Did you know that there are hundreds of disease-causing microbes lurking in your cat’s mouth right now?
It’s pretty gross when you sit down and think about it, but really, the same is true for human mouths as well. The difference? Most well-adjusted humans don’t go around biting each other or other animals… the same is not exactly true when it comes to cats!
Biting is one of a cat’s main defenses when they feel threatened.
Because of this, we actually take cat bites very seriously within the veterinary community. Due to the narrow size and pointed shape of a cat’s canine teeth, they are able to penetrate skin very deeply, but leave only a small wound on the surface. When a cat bites, the bacteria on their fangs can be driven deep down into the tissue, but the wound can heal rather quickly. This traps the bacteria beneath the surface of the skin. If left untreated, this bacteria can easily turn into a dangerous infection within 24-48 hours.
If you or your pet are unlucky enough to experience a bite from a cat, you should immediately wash the area under running water. Avoid using any harsh disinfectant that could damage surrounding tissue and/or delay healing. Apply direct pressure to the area to stop any bleeding and see a doctor or veterinarian as soon as possible.
It is a rule within our clinic here at Snelgrove Vet, that any staff suffering from a cat bite wound go directly to a walk-in clinic in order to received appropriate treatment. This often means a round of antibiotics to fight infection. The feline patients we see here are up to date on their vaccines, so typically the doctor is not concerned about the potential for viral disease. However, if someone is bitten by a cat that is unknown to them or possibly feral, a doctor may recommend a rabies vaccine depending on the severity of the bite wound.
If you see a stray cat, it is best to call animal services if you want to help it. A stray or feral cat can be skittish and may lash out at an attempt to help them. Your intentions to aid an animal in distress may be sincere, but it is best to leave handling an unknown animal to the professionals, lest you risk a bite from those bacteria-laced mouths!