Beware internet newspapers as they can distort the truth. This is another case in point and it concerns the Daily Mail, a major UK newspaper reporting on cat bites. I’ll just stick to the central point and present the two versions.
This is the truth
Over a three year period, 193 people presented themselves at the Mayo Clinic because of a cat bite to the hand. 57 of the 193 people were hospitalized, which represents 29.5%. Other areas of the body were excluded.
The point here is that we don’t know how many people who received a cat bite over that period dealt with it themselves and had no need to go to hospital. If this body of people is a high number, overall the percentage of people with a cat bite that have to be hospitalised will be vastly lower than the 29.5% as stated. In fact a US study concluded that 6% of people with a cat bite need to be hospitalised and this was an “estimate”. My estimate would be lower.
It could be argued that the Mayo study itself gives the wrong impression about cats and their potential danger to people because it is an exceedingly limited study.
See search results on PoC on “cat bites” – lots of articles (link opens a new window or tab)
This is the Daily Mail’s version
The reporter, Emma Innes, has misconstrued the Mayo Clinic report and sensationalised it and exaggerated it.
She writes that one third (33%) of all people who are bitten by a cat end up being hospitalised! That is a gross distortion of the truth on two levels that anyone can see. Firstly she represents the 193 people referred to as the entire population of the country (USA) who had received a cat bite and then ups the figure of 29.5% to 33%.
I’ll leave it at that because I don’t wish to complicate things. I’ll just add this:
- 69% of the people 193 people referred to in the study were females with an average age of 49. This supports what we know that middle-aged women are probably involved with cats more than other people.
- Cat bite puncture wounds can be serious because bacteria can be deposited under the skin and next to important bits of anatomy. Twenty percent of the people in the study who were hospitalised had surgery to clean out the wound.
- All cat bites are the fault of the person as far I am concerned. It is in the hands (forgive the pun) of the person to read cat behaviour and the signs that indicate that she/he may be bitten and withdraw to avoid it happening.
Photo: Picture heading post: by cmerlo441 and published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License.