How to respond to and treat cat bites and cat bite infections
You don’t need to be a doctor in order to know how to respond to and treat cat bites and cat bite infections. You need to apply common sense and to be vigilant. The great problem with cat bites is that the cat will deposit bacteria under your skin almost as if he or she is injecting a bacterial infection into you. Whether this causes an infection is the problem to be discussed and resolved.
Note: I have deliberately (a) not referred to rabies as it is outside the scope of this article and (b) not discussed an alternative outcome called cat scratch fever.
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The first response is to perhaps clean the area and, if you want to, to apply an antibacterial topical cream. I simply dry the area of any blood if it is bleeding; perhaps cleaning the area if I feel so inclined and then wait and watch. You can detect when a bacterial infection takes hold because the area around the bite becomes inflamed (red).
As soon as this happens, if it does indeed happen, take a course of antibiotics as soon as possible. The sooner the better. In the past I have been fortunate enough to have had antibiotics to hand having been prescribed antibiotics for a previous secondary infection to the common cold. I know there are different antibiotics for different infections and that some are more effective than others.
In my experience, and I stress this is a personal experience, taking one antibiotic pill per day for four days halted the bacterial infection and resolved the problem entirely.
However, if antibiotics are not to hand then a quick visit to your doctor (tell your doctor it is an emergency) will be the solution at which she will prescribe a course of antibiotics which will resolve the problem. It is essential that you do not delay and assume that the infection will resolve itself. It might well not resolve itself and if the infection is ignored it can cause serious injury and even result in hospitalisation.
There’s nothing more, to be honest, to discuss with respect of a standard cat bite and how to treat and respond to it. In my honest opinion, it is very straightforward. To reiterate, you should not let any inflammation around the bite become any larger than a few millimetres to a quarter of an inch. The area will feel tender due to the infection and it will be quite clear that there is an infection. It’s important, as mentioned, to be vigilant.
On almost all the occasions that I have been bitten, my body’s immune system dealt with it satisfactorily without any medical intervention. In my view this is the most likely outcome but it cannot be assumed.
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I was taught to bleed it out immediately as in as soon as it happens to apply pressure and press out as much blood as is comfortable. Then to soak in Epsom salts in warm water. Then start of topical antibiotics. If the wound looks rough you’ll need antibiotics. I’ve never been bitten but I have had some deep scratches over the years. I’ve had friends who ended up in hospital because they didn’t treat properly.
The last sentence is the key one for me. Thanks Elisa.