In contrast to (mostly) harmless love bites, actual cat bites can have serious medical consequences. Even the smallest injuries can sometimes cause serious infections. What should you look out for in an emergency? How can a cat bite be prevented?
Reasons why a cat bite?
The reasons for this can be very varied, because every cat is an individual and has had its own experiences. Not every cat has the same needs or boundaries. For example, if you are used to your cat running wild with you, this does not mean that every cat is automatically a big fan of this.
- Individual boundaries have been exceeded: One minute they’re in play mode and the next they’re digging their sharp little teeth into your hand? Then you may have disregarded their personal boundaries. Some cats go on the attack when they feel harassed. Especially if they don’t have the opportunity to keep their distance. For some cats, it is also across borders if you take their favourite toy or food away from them, try to pick them up or wake them unpleasantly from their sleep.
- The animal is in pain: You may have unintentionally touched a painful area while petting it or the cat is obviously in a lot of pain and does not want to be touched. In this case, a visit to the veterinary clinic is advisable.
- The cat is scared: If your cat is frightened or very scared, for example of the transport box , then it could also happen that it wants to defend itself with a bite. Chronic stress can also have a negative effect on the cat’s emotional life. Patience and empathy are needed here. A trainer is always available to help you.
- Cats who are willing to mate: When cats are willing to mate, they can instinctively bite. In this case, they don’t mean any harm, they just let their emotions speak. Although the intensity of the bite is not as strong as that of conventional cat bites, painful wounds can still occur.
- Young cats: Young cats in particular are usually not yet fully aware of their energy and strength. By squeaking briefly and interrupting play, you can break your cat of such unwanted behaviour. Instead, give her a toy that she can bite into.
- Intentionally?: A cat never bites out of pure malice or to annoy you. In most cases, you have misread their body language and missed their warning signals. Some cats only learn to get your attention through this behaviour.
First aid after a cat bite or cat scratch
Have you or another person been seriously bitten by a cat?
- Then the first thing to do is to keep your distance from the animal to prevent further injuries.
- The wound, no matter how big, should be treated immediately. If there is a lot of bleeding, apply a pressure bandage, everything else will be taken care of by the doctor.
- Even small bites should be observed and not taken lightly. If the bite becomes infected, you should also consult a doctor.
- If you are not currently vaccinated against tetanus, a booster is recommended.
- And last but not least, stay calm! Hectic movements, for example, could frighten the cat again.
- Cat scratches: Even deep scratches should be treated medically. Especially outdoor cats have dirt and bacteria on their claws, which can lead to inflammation of the wound. Superficial scratches should be disinfected and kept under observation.
Consequences of a cat bite
Cat bites should not be underestimated. Not only can cat bites be very painful, the wound can become very inflamed or even develop sepsis. In contrast to most dogs, the biting power of cats is much lower, but they also have long fangs with which they can irrupt deep into the skin and cause enormous damage to nerves, tendons, vessels, etc. The saliva of our cats can be very irritating.
The saliva of our beloved pets contains billions of bacteria and germs that can enter the human body through a bite. If you compare the bites of cats and dogs, cat bites are almost three times more likely to become infected, as there are significantly more germs in cat saliva than in dogs. The good news, however, is that cats bite statistically less often than dogs. Since they tend to be left alone, they are much less likely to have to defend themselves so fiercely against us.
Apart from the effects on the body (risk of infection, pain, scarring) and the psyche of the person bitten, legal consequences cannot be ruled out, as it is a case of bodily harm by law.
Prevention before intervention is the motto here. In addition to a species-appropriate and loving upbringing, there are a few things that owners can do to prevent this from happening.
Pay attention to species-appropriate play: The hand is only there for feeding and petting! You should teach your cat this rule right from the beginning. Cat fishing, for example, is a better way.
Pay attention to the cat’s warning signals: You can tell a lot from the body language of cats. If the cat starts to whip its tail, flatten its ears, growl and hiss, you should keep your distance.
Watch your body language: Too fast, hectic movements on your part could be misinterpreted by the cat. Staring directly at the cat or leaning over the cat can also seem threatening to your pet.
Do not separate fighting cats: In the heat of the moment, your cat may mistake your hand for a potential enemy.
Do not leave children playing unsupervised: Especially very young children should not play with cats unsupervised. In general, it is advisable to train children in how to handle cats.
Give cats time: As mentioned above, every cat behaves differently. What one cat likes, another cat may not like at all. The more time you give to get to know the cat, the less likely misunderstandings and injuries will occur.
Be careful with mother cats: Some mother cats find it threatening when you approach their kittens.
Be attentive: Always keep an eye on your darling. If you notice any changes in behaviour and/or temperament, a visit to a veterinary clinic is recommended. There is a possibility that your beloved pet is in pain or ill.
The danger of a cat bite should not be underestimated. Apart from the pain, injuries and possible risk of infection, the psyche can also suffer. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take to avoid a biting incident.