Better than anyone, veterinarians know the sting of the cat scratch.
Cats have extremely sharp claws, that they constantly sharpen and groom.
Most cat owners are also familiar with cat injuries, caused by an overly-playful paw.
Here are some things to keep in mind about cat scratches, especially if you’re a new pet owner.
What Happens When A Cat Scratches You?
They’re renowned for how painful they can be, but sometimes cat scratches can bleed, become infected or swell up.
When you’re assessing the wound, consider the location and depth, as well as the health and cleanliness of the cat that scratched you.
If it’s minor and the cat is low-risk, you can clean it at home; other scratches might require a visit to the doctor or even the emergency room.
Risks Associated With A Cat Scratch
There are a few considerations if you get scratched by a cat, especially if it’s not your own.
Read on below for the most notable.
1. General Infection
If the area immediately surrounding the cat scratch becomes reddened, swollen, and painful, or the area is warm or is leaking pus, then you likely have an infected scratch.
You may notice other signs of your body fighting infection, such as fatigue, body aches, swollen glands, fever and chills.
Serious infections may require antibiotics, so if you’re noticing worsening symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible.
If it’s a feral cat that scratched you, you should reach out to your local animal control or health department; they may wish to find and test the cat for rabies, and possibly quarantine it.
If the cat bit as well as scratched you, your doctor may have you put through a prophylactic round of rabies treatments.
If you don’t have an up-to-date tetanus booster, be sure to mention this to your doctor as well.
3. Cat Scratch Fever (No, Seriously)
Catchy name, but we’re not playing you a tune – cat-scratch disease (aka cat scratch fever) is a well-known side-effect of being scratched.
It’s caused by a strain of bacteria called bartonella that a cat picks up from flea bites or feces.
And yes, humans can catch cat scratch disease through being scratched by an infected feline.
Beware also letting cats lick any open wounds you may have, because the bacteria can be found in the saliva of infected cats, and their saliva can be how it ends up in your bloodstream.
Cat scratch disease can manifest between three and fourteen days after you’re infected.
If you experience loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and you notice that the scratch broke your skin, you may have contracted cat scratch disease.
How To Treat A Cat Scratch
For scratches that haven’t broken the skin and bled, you can get away with merely washing the site with soap and water.
If the wound is bleeding, apply a gauze pad and apply pressure until it stops; if it refuses to stop, seek medical attention.
If you sustain a scratch to your eye, you should seek immediate medical attention.
For most wounds, you can use an over-the-counter antibiotic cream and cover the scratch with a sterile bandage until it’s healed.
Be aware that wounds on the hands and feet often are more easily infected, so give them extra care.
Book An Appointment At Bickford Park Animal Hospital
Do you have a recent feline addition to your family?
We provide regular veterinary checkups, including inoculations, spaying and neutering.
We also have an emergency service available after hours, because we know your pet is like family.
Call now to book an appointment with Bickford Park Animal Hospital.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.