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Cat Bites Can Cost You and Cause a Small Cat-astrophe

(John Moore/Getty Images)

Okay, so puns aside, a cat bite on your hand is something you normally shrug off and don’t think about, outside of the irritation while it heals.  Heck, I have a cat and play with her all of the time.  Yes, I let her bite my hands because I know that she’s just playing.  Unfortunately, there’s evidence to support that this is exactly what you don’t want due to bacteria that can get transferred from the cat’s mouth into your hands’ joints.  The result can be painful and dangerous.

The Mayo Clinic recently held a study to find out if cat bites can cause serious harm.  The results of the study are, yes.  After being bitten by a cat on the hands, about thirty percent of people who needed medical treatment needed hospitalization for proper treatment of the wound.  Yes, hospitalization.  Why?

This three-year study confirms that cat bites can lead to serious infections that can only be achieved through hospital services, such as intravenous antibiotic therapy and operative treatment.  You see, cats have needle-sharp teeth that easily penetrate your skin.  When that happens, bacteria are introduced into your hands beneath the skin that can infect your hands’ joints.  The joints don’t have circulation of blood to flush out and kill the bacteria.  The result is a serious and hard-to-treat infection.

I, personally, have never encountered this problem.  Maybe my cats have never bitten me hard enough to get the bacteria under my skin.  Maybe it’s because I always wash my hands right away when my cat and I are finished playing.  I don’t know the reason why I have been unscathed, but now I know that the possibility of serious infections exist if I’m not careful.

So the bottom line is this, if you have a cat bite and it doesn’t begin healing well, or in other words, if there’s no improvement in the wound, within 24 hours, you should get professional treatment for it.  Otherwise you may end up with a serious infection that not only affects the joints in your hands, but can also spread throughout your body, causing systemic infection.  And that truly would be catastrophic.

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