This is my cat, Pollux:
Let not the little pink nose and the googly eyes fool you: he’s a ticking time bomb.
In a three-year retrospective study published in the February issue of The Journal of Hand Surgery, researchers reviewed records of 193 people who came to Mayo Clinic Hospital with cat bites to the hand.
Thirty-six victims were immediately admitted to the hospital, where they stayed an average of three days. Another 154 were treated with oral antibiotics as outpatients, although 21 of them eventually had to be hospitalized. Complications included nerve involvement, abscesses and loss of joint mobility.
While canine bites are more common and more immediately traumatic, as dogs are able to tear flesh, and in some cases break bone, feline bites pose a much greater risk of infection. The cat’s narrow teeth create cavities in skin, muscle and tendon that are not easily cleaned.
The most common cause of infection was Pasteurella multocida, an aggressive bacterium found in the mouths of many animals and up to 90 percent of healthy cats. Amoxicillin is commonly used to treat it.
“Redness, swelling, increasing pain, difficulty in moving the hand and drainage from the wound are all signs that there may be an infection and that treatment should be sought,” said the senior author of the study, Dr. Brian T. Carlsen, a hand surgeon at the Mayo Clinic.
“The tendon sheaths and joints are superficial in the hand, and cat bites penetrate easily, seeding those spaces with the germ, ” he added. “Once it’s in there, it can grow quite rapidly in fluid-filled spaces that don’t have blood circulation, and surgery is often required. That’s an important message: don’t ignore a cat bite.”
Looks like I’ll be sleeping with one eye open tonight…