Who knows about cat bites?

I hate putting something this wussy in GQ, so here goes in IMHO.

My friend’s cat attacked me today, and sunk his fangs pretty deep in my leg.

It hurts. How can I tell the difference between “It hurts because puncture wounds hurt” and “it hurts because those cat germs are causing problems”?

I noticed on some medical websites that they recommend antibiotics, possibly tetanus booster, for most deep cat bites, simply because so many do get infected. But it’s the weekend. Doctor’s office closed. I’m not inclined to go to some urgent-care center (or god forbid, an emergency room) unless I absolutely must. Words can’t describe how little I want to do that. I’m also reluctant to call the on-call doctor in my practice, because they’ve treated me like a moron before when I’ve bothered them on the weekend. Then there’s the thing about my PHONE NOT WORKING for incoming calls (see my rant in livejournal).

So can I wait? How closely to I have to monitor this thing, and is there some way to judge whether it’s a problem already? Or is that all a moot point and I have to hie my leg to some medical professional regardless?

Cranky, you really should call urgent care at least. I don’t know how your health insurer handles things, but I have an HMO and can call a medical advice nurse. A close friend of mine has a number of cats and has gotten cellulitis twice from cat bites, the last time getting bitten when she was trying to separate two who were fighting. You probably should get at least a tetanus booster, if you haven’t had one in the past seven years (I think it’s seven, might be ten that they’re good for); also, if there’s an infection, you could be getting it before it has a chance to set in. I’m sorry that your doctor’s office has mis-treated (hehe, sorry about that unintentional pun) you in the past, but I really think this is something you should at least call in and ask about. Cat bites can be dangerous.

Good luck!


Cat bites often cause infection because they are puncture-type wounds. They are deep and have a small opening. Hopefully, you washed with soap and water for 5-10 minutes and put antibiotic ointment on the wound.

Signs of infection would be swelling, redness, oozing, the skin becoming hot, etc. If you get any kind of a line going from the bite up your leg, or you get chills or fever, that could be an emergency and you should seek immediate treatment. If it is just painful and mildly swollen, you can probably keep an eye on it till Monday. In any case, I would go see your doctor and get some antibiotics.

If you have not had a tetanus booster in the last 8-10 years, I think you should go get one now. Also, if the cat does not have a rabies vaccination–proven by a certificate–the cat needs to be quarantined (kept inside) for 10 days. You also need to report it to the health department. Don’t mess around when it comes to things like that.

My MIL got a very infected arm from a cat bite, and was very close to being hospitalized for IV antibiotics. Take good care of the wound and see the doctor at the first sign of any infection.

Bite wounds are particularly susceptible to infection because, IIRC, of the presence of anaerobic bacteria–particularly nasty little bugs. I know humans have those bacteria in their mouths. I suspect cats do, too.

If I were you, I’d be visiting the urgent care center. At least call them.

(I know that toxoplasmosis is cat borne, but I think that’s more cat scratch related.)

Good luck.

Have you been to urgent care yet? Cat bites are just about the nastiest animal bites you can get. Get that sucker taken care of–much better to take antibiotics before you get knocked off your feet by a serious infection, and with cat bites that can happen with scary rapidity.
Let us know, 'kay?

This is a perfect example of someone following the advice she wanted to hear (calliope’s). Barring a post from Qadgop to the contrary, I am going to wait until Monday. I know this might seem incautious, but I am trying to hard to meet a dissertation deadline. I’ve got my husband and kid farmed out and my schedule all set. I can’t bear to screw all that up by sitting for HOURS waiting to get a 15-minute exam by a harried ER doc unless I have definite signs that this bite is a problem.

Even though you’re in a bind timewise, it’s never good to let such a bite go. It may be fine but then not all infections are the same either, should it become infected.

Good luck and if it was me, I’d fix that cat’s little red wagon.

Okay, update, I called the doctor on call. I’m going into urgent care. Sigh. She would have let me wait (and put me on antibiotics until I could see her on Monday) until I told her I hadn’t had a tetanus shot.

However, she did give me the good news that the emergency room in the hospital has its own urgent care area, separate from the “chest pain and broken leg area” as she put it. Thank god, I didn’t want to be the non-life-threatening case waiting for 12 hours while they treat people who are critical.

Sorry for such a self-absorbed thread, but maybe it will be good info for other people to file away. Cat bites = serious.

Patients with catbites get an automatic prescription for antibiotics from me, even if they don’t look bad. I’ve seen too many wounds go real sour real fast from catbites, far worse than dogbites. The only thing worse than catbites that I see regularly are human bites. Glad you’re going to urgent care, cranky!

Well! If I had known this, I would have advised a nice long bubble bath and about 12 ounces of good semi-sweet chocolate. :smiley: 'Cause that’s just the kind of friend I am, always coming through in a pinch…

And I see you’ve called the doc and are going in for care. Good, good. I feel much better now. Pick up some chocolate on your way home.


Okay. I’m home. What a freaking zoo. I saw four nurses, one medical student, one resident, and one doctor. Oh yeah, and the security guy, who documents all bites. I got one tetanus shot (and a hugely sort arm), 10 days of antibiotics, and a little hospital bracelet.

It cost me four hours of my life, $2 in parking, and $14 for the drugs.

They said they saw two cat bites yesterday so there must be some bad cat karma going around. Mine was the worst, I think (it looks like a rattlesnake bite–everyone was deeply impressed). And everyone said I was right to come in (although god did I feel sheepish, hale and hearty in my hospital gown while all these seriously messed-up people were all around me).

Cranky 0, Cat 1.