Bitten and scratched by a cat. What to do?

On reading the username/post title combo I thought the OP was meant as a joke.

Why were the bare hands near a feral cat in the first place?

We have 7 cats ½ a big dog. Out house is more interesting & we pay more attention to him.

Lots of cuts, scratches, bites.

We seem to have built up our immune systems, what with eating garden veggies straight from the vine, blackberries too.

I believe in the 5 second rule in my own house for dropped foods.

I would be dead if I took meds for every bite, scratch, tool cut, skinned place, etc. Can you die from too many antibiotics? I think a person could if the bled & broke their skin as much as I do.

Maybe we have built up our immune systems???

I recently read worse. Bubonic plague is not extinct.

The link has unpleasant medical pictures, so don’t click if you get queasy at such.

While I was in there, I found out two others were hospitalized at the same time with cat bites. (Different cats). Perhaps they didn’t know then, but they should know now. The original doc was a young thing, and the doc that came in and saved me was actually on his last week before retirement. It surely was experience, and not anything they taught in med school. Lucky for all of us the retiring doc was still there, two weeks later and it may have been much worse for us all.

Probably wasn’t a feral cat, just a stray one. She somehow sneaked into my office and was scared and hid all the time.

We tried to lure her with food placed near the exit, hoping she would eat the food and then get out but she ate the food and hid again.

Then finally I found her hiding spot. It was in the lowest drawer in one of the desks. Apparently there’s some gap at the back end of the drawer big enough for her to get in. She had her back turned to me so I went to lift her out.

Bad idea! The moment I touched her she turned around and started biting and scratching. I grabbed her tightly from behind the neck and then she couldn’t turn and bite. I then took her to an empty field next to the office and let her go.

Anyway, the wounds are almost gone now, but I took some antibiotics as a precaution.

Does the army give you a rabies vaccine?

Since in your case there were no complications, my post is really not germane. However, in addition to the possibility of rabies (if you do not know the cat had its shots) and severe staph infection, you would, ordinarily, need a tetanus shot or booster. (Tamerlane said different bacteria are involved, but my Merck manual says that staphylococcus is the usual culprit.)

My neighbor’s cat bit me on the back of my right hand several months. There was some immediate swelling, but I ignored it until the following morning. Then my entire lower right arm swelled immensely (as a poster noted like a comic strip arm). I had to get the neighbor to drive me to the doctor, who gave me a tetanus and a penicillin shot, with prescription for oral penicillin for 10 days.) It took a couple of days before I was able to drive, but even now there is still some swelling near the base of the thumb, and I have to use the peck method for typing with my right hand. I am, however, been seeing slow improvement and expect to be able to type normally in another month or two. Cellulitis is still evident at several fingers.

As Tamerlane noted, there was not much evidence as to the puncture mark. The tooth is sharp and goes deep into the flesh, but the mark was hardly noticeable. I put an antibacterial salve on it immediately, but, obviously, that was insufficient. From my reading of the Merck maual, I suspect the continued swelling near the base of my thumb is caused by inflammation of a lymph node. The Merck manual says, that strep and staph are most frequent cause of lymphadenitis.

Since I had and still have cellulitis - an inflammation of the tissues - according to Merck, streptococci and staphylococci are the most common pathogens (but any organism capable of invading tissue may produce cellulitis.

Strictly by the numbers the Merck manual would seem to be inaccurate, though I wouldn’t discount that they might have access to more thorough studies than the one cited by the survey below. Cite:

Pasteurella spp. was the most common pathogen isolated from both dog and cat bites (50% and 75% respectively). Pasteurella canis was the most common isolate of dog bites, and Pasteurella multocida subspecies multocida and septica were the most common isolates of cat bites. The next more frequently encountered aerobic organisms were streptococci, and staphylococci. Streptococci were seen in 46% of the cases, staphylococci were seen in 46% of dog bites and 35% of cat bites, Staphylococcus aureus was cultured in 20% of dog bites and 4% of cat bites. Staphylococcus intermedius was found in two cases.

From here. That article in general has a wealth of curious trivia about bacteria in the bites of various critters. For example if you ever wanted to know the primary bacterium associated with hamster bites for a pub trivia game, it’s in there :D.

Where I think the Merck might get the prevalence of staph thing if not from better sources might be explained by this sentence: Wounds that appear infected more than 24 hours after an injury are more likely to be infected with staphylococci and streptococci among other oral flora. In other words if you start swelling up in the first 24 hours it is more likely Pasturella, after 24 hours probably staph or strep ( and of course some unlucky guy could end up with all of the above ).

I just got home after several days in the hospital, including surgery on my hand to clean & drain the wound, from a small gash from the tooth of a neighbors cat. Despite 2 antibiotics shots and twice-daily oral antibiotics before admission to the hospital. Now I’m changing the dressing & packing the open wound daily, and will be on oral antibiotics for at least a couple of weeks.

Doctor said that cat bites are one of the worst, because they are genetically close to humawns, so the bacteria that live in cats can easily live in humans, too8. Also, their small teeth create puncture wounds, that often close on top while the bacteria is still growing underneath. And cats are quite common around humans, so bites happen.

*He said that this was the most relevant feature. Human bites are the worst; they assume every one will cause an infection. Next worse are ape/chimp bites, nearly always cause infection. But not many people live with apes or chimps. Next are cats & dogs – pretty infectious, and pretty common. Dogs are slightly less dangerous because their bigger teeth leave a bigger wound, which drains better. Other pets, like rodents (hamsters, guinea pigs) or birds are much less dangerous.

I could see going to the doctor for a scratch from a stray, but from your own cat, that’s a little much. I’d be spending half of my life at the doctors if I went there every time one of my cats scratched me. I have some scars from some cat scratches, and I never once bothered to get medical help other than a band aid and neosporine, maybe.

Hell, Buffy bites me if she doesn’t get my undivided attention. She’ll even follow me into the bathroom and scratch at my legs when I’m brushing my teeth.

Note: my cats are not constantly attacking me. Almost all of them are the results of accidents, and/or trying to give a cat medicine. (Maggie just hates being held, so if I have to pick her up and move her somewhere, she kicks and squirms like you wouldn’t believe.)

One of my cats scratches me all the time, too. He doesn’t realize that it hurts me because his claws are mostly retracted and it doesn’t bother his cat buddies as they have a nice coat of fur. I just put on some neosporin. My other cat gives me love bites but they don’t break my skin. When I first got her from the pound, however, she bit the back of my hand as I tried to give her Revolution. It broke the skin and I put on some neosporin. No problems with those. I cannot explain why that bite did not affect me as did the neighbor’s cat. The difference between the scratches, however, may be due to the saliva. I think the thing to do when a cat you know bites or scratches you is to wait and see what, if anything, develops after a few hours. I waited until the next day when I should’ve gone when I first noted swelling.

My wife volunteers occasionally to help Friends of Feral Felines capture, well, feral felines. They found a feral cat a few blocks from where we live in a crawlspace under an apartment building.

They couldn’t capture it, so for some reason the called me to help. I brought welders gloves and crawled in, corning the cat, grabbing it and getting bit in the process on the meaty part of my left hand between my thumb and fore finger through the welders gloves.

I went home, cleaned up my hand with lots of soap, water, peroxide anything I could find. No pain, no more bleeding and called it good.

Within 3 hours My thumb, forefinger and palm of my hand down to my wrist was swollen and bright red. I noticed red lines starting to form from the infection site up my arm.

Off to the emergency room I went. When I got there I was immediately put on an IV for 2 days, told that if the red lines made it to my shoulder it would have made it shortly to my heart an I would be dead.

We ended up adopting the cat and he turned out to be the sweetest most likable cat we have ever had.

If and I mean IF I ever try something like that again, I want to be wearing chain mail and Kevlar carrying a long stick with a noose on the end.

Hogwash. I’ve been battling with my Maine Coon Finnegan for two years now, and often end up looking like I’ve walked through rose bushes and back again. I’ve been scratched by little kitties since the day I was born and there’s nuffin wrong with me. Nuffin!! Now get back down on the rug and play with your kitty you big babies!!!

The thread is over a year old, Mugs.

…to have a bit of fun.

Last summer Mrs. Napier got scratched (not bitten) by a rabid cat. There was some confusion but calls between the ER and the Health Department finally resolved that this required the rabies shot series, which she started a week after being scratched. The small scratch wounds, which were well healed and nearly invisible, turned red and blistered and swelled and itched and hurt hours after the first shots. This is an indication that she did get rabies virus in the wound (or at least fragments of the virus) and suggests she might have died without the shots.

If I were you I’d hit the ER.

It might be a little late for that. I don’t think rabies shots work a year after the incident. :smiley: (check the original post date)

On the other hand, by now, the OP should know pretty solidly whether the cat was rabid even if they didn’t get the shots.

A street cat, I can understand. But why would a bite by a house cat be particularly nasty? Worse than a dog’s even?

I’ve heard that human bites can be really bad. Something about bacteria that live between tooth and gum.