Cat being encouraged to bite. Photo by Shutterstock
Cat being encouraged to bite. Photography by Bogdan Sonjachnyj / Shutterstock.

How to Treat Cat Bites and Cat Bite Infections

Cat bites happen for a few reasons (which we’ll explore here). How do you treat cat bites and how can you prevent cat bites? What about cat bite infections?
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I had never been bitten by a cat before I started volunteering at a cat shelter last summer. I’d been nipped at, sure, but never to the point of broken skin. However, none of the cats who bit me meant to do me harm — which is an important thing to remember in my position of continuing to care for them, even with fresh wounds. All those cat bites were from kitties who had simply gotten overstimulated. They’re living in an environment with the ever-changing sounds and smells of 130 other cats, so it’s easy to see how cat bites happen.

My experience with cat bites

Cat bites on a hand.
Cat bites on a hand. Photography courtesy Andee Bingham.

The first cat to bite me was Miles, an enormous black beauty who had been caged for health issues. While cleaning his cage, he was rubbing against my hands and headbutting my elbows. He was new to my area of the shelter, and I was excited to have some good bonding time with him. Then, behind me, there was a scuffle between two free-roaming cats. I turned my head to see what all the fuss was about, and Miles bit me on the back of my neck. This bite was mild; he barely broke the surface of my skin. It was more of a deep scrape, really. Still, it startled me, and, of course, OUCH!

When Miles bit me, I didn’t know anything about cat bites. And because that cat bite didn’t get infected, I stayed oblivious about cat bites for a while. Then, about a week later, Rigel bit me. I was scratching him on his sweet orange-spotted head, behind his ears. He was loving it, loving it, loving it, until he didn’t love it anymore and sunk his teeth into my hand like a snake would.

One tooth went into the palm-side of my hand, at the base of my thumb, and another tooth punctured a similar spot on the other side of my thumb. I knew it was bad the second it happened, as pain shot up my arm and made my hand throb.

My instinct with the cat bite was to wash it, smear it with an antibiotic ointment, and bandage it up.

When cat bites get infected

Cat bites on a hand.
This cat bite wound might be infected. Always see a medical professional if you suspect your cat bite wound is infected. Photography courtesy Andee Bingham.

I wasn’t concerned about the cat bite until the next day, when I removed the bandage. What I found was that the base of my thumb was a bit swollen (nothing too dramatic, but certainly noticeable), the area was pink, warm to the touch and painful. As a freelancer who often struggles to eat, let alone see a doctor, I don’t have health insurance (I play emergency-roulette every time I leave my apartment). I kept the punctures clean and smeared with a triple-antibiotic ointment, and I changed the bandages twice per day — keeping a close eye on the brewing cat bite infection to make sure it didn’t get worse.

After a few days the swelling went down, the redness receded and the area became less tender. I was lucky.

Treatment for cat bites — how to prevent cat bite infections

“Because cat bites carry the risk of infection, they shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Dawn Quinn, a registered nurse, advises. “You can lessen your chances of developing an infection by washing your wound with antibacterial soap thoroughly and immediately. If you have peroxide or Betadine on hand, you may use either to disinfect your wound.”

Quinn says that deep-puncture wounds from cat bites might bleed, and that you should apply pressure to stop the bleeding, then apply a clean bandage. She also recommends visiting urgent care or an emergency room.

“A course of oral antibiotics is almost always prescribed in the case of deep-puncture wounds,” she says. “Depending on the circumstances of your bite, you may need to think about rabies or tetanus infection, and a health-care provider can help you evaluate your level of risk.”

What to know about cat bites and infections

“Cat bites are highly infectious,” says Quinn. “The deeper the bite, the greater the chances are that it can become infected.”

Cat bites are exceptionally dangerous and prone to infection because a cat’s needle-like teeth can push bacteria deep into flesh, tendons and joints. The small but deep puncture wounds are hard to thoroughly clean and tend to trap bacteria inside, where it quickly spreads.

Signs of infection from cat bites

According to Quinn, cat bites that are infected will be red and painful, and might have some drainage. You might see bumps or blisters. Late stages of infections from cat bites might result in fever, weakness, swollen lymph nodes, headache and a general feeling of being unwell.

What are the signals that a cat might bite?

Catnip can cause cats to act aggressively.
This cat is showing signs of aggression, which means he might bite. Photography by Alun Marchant / Shutterstock.

It’s not uncommon for cats to get overstimulated during play and lash out from excitement (though it is rarer for a family cat to lash out in a way that breaks skin). In nonplayful situations, though, there are some signals you should heed.

According to Hannah Curtain, certified veterinary technician, “The biggest red flags are the vocal signals, such as yowling or hissing. Always watch for signs of fright and offensive or defensive behavior when handling a cat. A cat in danger-mode will probably be crouched with his ears and whiskers pinned back, tail down, dilated pupils; he might be growling or yowling as a warning to stay away.”

Why do cats bite?

Remember that cats don’t inflict injury based on whether or not they “like” the person they injure, and their behavior shouldn’t be taken personally. When it comes to cat bites, they’re simply acting in self-preservation, striking if they feel threatened.

Curtain advises that “people who handle animals should approach them in a calm, confident manner, but they should be prepared to back off if the situation is too stressful for themselves or the animal. Animals can sense when a handler’s energy is off and can interpret this as a threat. Just like people, animals sometimes just need a break to cool down and then the situation can be approached again.”

Tell us: Have you ever had a rough run-in with a cat or dealt with cat bites? What about cat bite infections? Tell us about it in the comments.

Thumbnail: Photography by Bogdan Sonjachnyj / Shutterstock.

This piece was originally published in 2015.

Read more about cat health and care on Catster.com:

121 thoughts on “How to Treat Cat Bites and Cat Bite Infections”

  1. I adopted Schnitzel, a 4 month old kitten a week ago from a friend. Really sweet cat and really playful. She started biting a few days ago while I was petting her. She would get really comfortable and would start kneading but after a while she would start grabbing my fingers and then biting it. It started out really mild, not really painful, just playful bites. But it has been recurring a lot lately, most of the time the target of her bites is my bracelet, and sometimes she would swipe for my fingers/hands and biting even when I’m not playing with her. The bites now have slightly more pressure than before, just enough to sting a bit and I’m afraid that she might break skin after a while.

    I also noticed that whenever I have her on my lap while I’m using my computer she seems really focused on my hand that is holding the mouse, and then she would leap for it and bite me. Any suggestions? It’s my first time taking care of a cat and I’m not really sure
    what to do

  2. Pingback: Kitten Teething: 5 Tips to Stop Kitten Biting – My Blog

  3. I recently got bit by my own cat. I had to go to the emergency room. My injuries are still healing. I had to get IV Antibiotics and oral antibiotics.

    He bit my left hand.

    1. For what’s it’s worth……..

      When a cat bites me I take homeopathic Ledum 30 c at once . Then homeopathic Arnica 30c half an hour later AND
      repeating the Arnica & Ledum ,as above, for 4 doses . (about 2hourly)
      Then 1 dose Ledum 30c on waking is a good idea.

      Not for everyone , of course . I routinely dose the cats (as above ) after cat fights- never see an abscess . ( There’s always a first time & I would give them a broad spectrum antibiotic if I had any concerns the bite was septic.)

      Cat bite wounds are a seriously filthy injection of bacteria & other equally nasty microbes .

      Homeopathic treatment does not preclude the concurrent use of IV antibiotics ( usually Ciprofloxacin) or oral antibiotic & Metronidazole. Sometimes a hand nreeds splinting.

      Reddened , tense , swollen & painful skin needs immediate medical review .

      I have been badly nipped & scratched when rescuing cats in tricky situations & found homeopathy useful in my case.

      (I would not hesitate to use mainstream medicine if the wound progressed to cellulitis )

    2. hi … my cat bite me too but idont know if its dangerous coz its not that deep and my finger is starting to get big
      i just want to know if you guys know what todo

      1. Hi there,

        After reading this article and noticing your symptoms after a cat bite, we suggest seeing a medical professional to get expert treatment.

  4. WHEN MY 25 LB CAT SITS IN THE RECLINER WITH ME, SHE GETS MAD WHEN I READ. HAS GRABBED BOOKS WITH HER TEETH AND THROWN THEM ON THE FLOOR. ABOUT A YEAR AGO SHE WAS SITTING WITH ME WHILE I WAS READING AND EVIDENTLY GOT ANNOYED AT ME BECAUSE OF IT. SHE REACHED OVER AND PUT HER MOUTH BETWEEN THUMB AND FIRST FINGER AND BIT THE MIDDLE OF MY HAND. I WAS SO SURPRISED I JERKED ON MY HAND AND SHE IMMEDIATELY BIT DOWN WITH HER FANGS (LONG ONES) AND BIT CLEAR THROUGH THE TENDON ON MY HAND. I STILL DO NOT THINK SHE MEANT TO. BUT I IMMEDIATELY WENT TO THE BATHROOM AND SCRUBBED THE HECK OUT OF MY HAND WITH SOAP AND ALCOHOL AND PEROXIDE THEN RUBBED ANTIBIOTIC CREAM IN BITE. THOUGHT IT WOULD BE ALRIGHT. I HAD SOME SMALL BITES BEFORE THAT I TREATED THAT WAY AND THEY WERE FINE. BY THE NEXT MORNING MY HAND WAS SWELLED UP LIKE A SMALL MELON AND RED AS FIRE. I WENT TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM AND WHEN I SAID MY CAT HAD BIT ME, HE IMMEDIATELY SAID THAT I WOULD HAVE TO BE ON IV ANTIBIOTICS AND STAY IN HOSPITAL FOR 3 DAYS. I TOLD HIM THERE WAS NO WAY BECAUSE MY CAT HAD TO BE FED AND TAKEN CARE OF AND THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE TO DO IT. I SAID JUST GIVE ME THE ANTIBIOTICS AND PAIN MEDS AND I WILL GO HOME AND IF IT GETS ANY WORSE OR DOESN’T GET BETTER IN THE NEXT TWO DAYS I WILL BE BACK. HE THEN INFORMED ME NOT TO BE SURPRISED IF THE LOCAL POLICE CALLED OR CAME TO SEE ME ABOUT THE CAT. I ASKED WHY AND HE SAID THEY WERE LEGALLY REQUIRED TO REPORT ALL BITES TO LOCAL POLICE AND TO THE STATE. ALSO SAID THAT IF THE CAT BIT ME AGAIN THEY WERE REQUIRED TO PUT IT DOWN.( I LIVE IN INDIANA). I
    TOLD HIM THAT MAYBE IF “MY” CAT BIT SOMEONE ELSE THEY COULD ENFORCE THIS , BUT NOT IF IT BIT ME AGAIN! WHEN I GOT HOME SINCE THEY DIDN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT CLEANING OUT THE WOUND. I GOT OUT A NEW TOOTHBRUSH, PUT IT IN BOILING WATER TO MAKE SURE IT WAS SAFE. THEN I USED THE TOOTHBRUSH AND SOAP AND SCRUBBED MY HAND UNTIL IT STARTED BLEEDING AND KEPT IT BLEEDING FOR A FEW MINUTES THEN CLEANED MY HAND AGAIN AND PUT MORE ANTIBIOTIC CREAM ON THE WOUND AND COVERED IT. TOOK MY MEDS THAT THE DR HAD GIVEN ME AND IN A COUPLE OF DAYS THE SWELLING AND REDNESS WAS GONE AND HAND CONTINUED TO HEAL. DOESN’T BOTHER ME AT ALL NOW.
    THE AFTER EFFECTS OF THIS WITH MY CAT IS THAT SHE HASN’T BIT ME SINCE THAT WOULD BREAK THE SKIN. IF SHE IS SITTING IN THE CHAIR WITH ME NOW AND I AM READING, ONCE IN A WHILE SHE WILL REACH OVER TO MY ARM VERY GENTLY GET A LIGHT HOLD ON A SMALL BIT OF SKIN WITH JUST THE TIPS OF HER TEETH AND NEVER BITES DOWN. I JUST LOOK DOWN AT HER AND ASK “ARE YOU TRYING TO BITE YOUR MAMA”
    SHE IMMEDIATELY RAISES HER HEAD AND LOOKS AT ME AND SAYS “NAHH”. HER WORD FOR NO. SO I JUST ASK HER THEN IF SHE KNOWS HER MAMA LOVES HER AND SHE ANSWERS YESS!
    AND THEN I ASK HER IF SHE LOVES HER MAMA AND SHE ANSWERS “YESS” AGAIN. YOU MAY THINK I AM IMAGINING THIS,
    BUT EVERYBODY THAT VISITS US CAN UNDERSTAND HER WHEN SHE SAYS “YESS” OR “NAHH” AND SHE ALSO HAS SEVERAL OTHER WORDS IN HER VOCABULARY THAT PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND. MY CAT IS A BEAUTIFUL LARGE RUSSIAN BLUE. WITH GREEN AND GOLD EYES. HER VET SAYS SHE IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CAT THEY HAVE EVER SEEN AND ALSO THE SMARTEST. BECAUSE WHEN THEY WANT TO GIVE HER A SHOT THEY ASK FIRST AND SHE SAYS “NAHHHH” THEN LOOKS AT ME AND TURNS AROUND AND BEHAVES AND SAYS”YES” EVEN THOUGH SHE HATES SHOTS.

    1. A word of caution about using antibiotic cream (Neosporin) for a cat bite. Make absolutely sure you aren’t allergic to any of the three ingredients in the triple antibiotic cream. I thought I wasn’t; had used it in the past, but suddenly had an allergy to it. I wreaked havoc far worse than my cat bite.

      One of our cats inadvertently bit me last summer on my left hand (I startled her during the night). I put Neosporin on the bite and had a horrific time for close to six weeks with it swelling, blistering, weeping, peeling skin; very painful. I thought it was infected. A bacterial swab test showed it wasn’t. A savvy dermatologist I was sent to figured out it was the Neosporin (the neomycin in it). Things started getting better immediately when I stopped using it.

  5. My Cat Concierge Cat Sitting Services

    I suffered a major bite when I was volunteering at an adoption center similar to the picture shown above and you could not see my hand for 5 days. I was on major antibiotics and had to get a shot due to blood poisoning. The cat bit me due to being surrendered and I too was cleaning his apartment. He moved so fast there was no way to prevent it.
    I am a Professional Cat Sitter and now I carry a vile 1/2 Lavender and Melaleuca mixed oils which kills anything in the wound as long as I get it on their quickly and ensure to rub it in. It burns but will prevent a doctor visit.
    These days, if I even think the cat is agitated I will not interact with it. The pupils and tail are the best way to gauge what they may do.

    1. Hi very interested in your story can I ask where did you get the information to use lavender and Melaleuca mixed oil and how does it or what is it in the oil’s that stop the infection ?

  6. I am regularly bitten by my cat Mickey. He has a thing for bare skin. Spring and summer are the hardest because there is so much more skin available. I know he’s playing and doesn’t realize his biting hurts. The funny thing is I can tell when he is contemplating biting because he literally licks his chops. But, he does break the skin on occasion and having worked for a vet as well as an MD, I know how dangerous bites can be. I’ve actually gone to the emergency room for one bite from a cat at the vet. My hand blew up within 5 min.
    People shouldn’t underestimate cat bites.
    As for Mickey, well if I drop dead in my apartment, especially during shorts and short sleeve season, he will probably eat me.

  7. My (now deceased) cat Bug hated our cat Margie. There was no discernable reason, he just did. We kept them separated quite successfully, but one day, Bug got into the room where Margie stayed, and he attacked her most severely. My husband, in an attempt to save Margie, grabbed Bug by the scruff to get him off of her, and he literally twisted in his skin and sunk his very long fangs into my husband’s thumb at the joint where it meets the hand. By that evening, he was in the ER and was admitted for intravenous antibiotics because infection had set in very quickly and very badly. He had to stay for four days. To this day, he has pretty bad arthritis in the joint at the bite site, and this is about 5 or 6 years since the bite happened.

  8. Several years ago, I woke up with searing pain in my foot in the middle of the night. My cat Mulder bit me. He just about always slept by my feet, and I think I must have moved and startled him in his sleep. Most of my foot swelled right up.

    You really do need to stay off your feet if bit on your lower extremities. My supervisor at the time talked me into working “just one shift” when I called out, and eight hours on my feet caused my whole foot to swell up. Then, I was out of work for a week. So I highly recommend you take it easy and let it heal rather than stressing it out and making it worse.

    Mulder bit my finger at another point when he was startled a while after this incident – much less serious. He was super affectionate and would follow me around. He was such a sweetheart. I miss him and his sister Scully.

  9. Ok I was giving my cat a flea bath tonight an he has super sharp teeth and he latched onto my wrist and it went pretty deep. It wasn’t sore at first but now it’s hard for me to even move it. Should I go to the doctor for this??

    1. I have a beautiful little cat that might have a home but it wanders around where I live and seems lost.
      I have fed it and let it stay on my lanai but never in the house or near my cats.
      Tonight I reached out to pet her and she bit me and gave me a little scratch.
      I washed the cut with peroxide and put neosporin on it.
      Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!!
      I hope a soap and water wash with neosporin will be enough to avoid infection etc
      No Good Deed goes unpunished ….

  10. Pingback: How to Treat Cat Bites and Cat Bite Infections | Speaking of Pets at Rescue Pet Supply

  11. I’ve had three serious cat bites, all requiring medical attention. The most recent one caused septic arthritis in my hand, which caused significant pain for about 6 months. Now, five years later, I still have some pain. My doctor has told me this is permanent. Don’t fool with cat bites.

  12. P Nitin chakravarthy

    My cat bit and scratched me just few minutes ago.it was very angry at dat time.immediately I washed my hands with dettol and applied turmeric powder.even I also applied lemon to avoid entry of pathogens.i googled and saw that cat bite is so dangerous.should I consult a doctor or not.i have taken intial care by washing with dettol, turmeric n lemon.is it really necessary to consult a physician.please reply me

  13. Jennifer Ahearn

    We returned home after being away for a week on vacation. I had a neighbor looking in on my 7 year old cat. Since we got home Oreo has been very vocal and loud. This morning he came over to me and sat in front of me, the whole time purring and meowing. Out of nowhere he lunged at me and sunk 3 teeth into my arm. I will probably be going to the dr tomorrow, but for today it is bandaged.

    1. Our orange tabby Mango bit me on the forearm a few years ago. Within 12 hours my arm was swollen, red and extremely painful. I started vomiting and had to stay in hospital for a week, with 2 IVs, 2 different antibiotics and a morphine drip. Not to mention my right arm had to be elevated at all times. ALWAYS take cat bites seriously

  14. Yes cat bites can be serious! I took in a stray cat, got him fixed and was keeping him in a spare bedroom and feeding him, trying to make friends. He was unpredictable and when I went to feed him one day, he bit me out of nowhere and held on with all his might for a few seconds. I knew it was bad right away as it hurt a lot to move my wrist. I flushed it with soap and water for a good 2 minutes and figured it could wait until the morning to go to the Urgent Care. Well by the time I got to the Urgent Care, only 14 hours after the bite, I already needed 2 days of IV antibiotics, another week or oral meds, plus they had to cut it open to get the infection out. For 3 weeks I had a wound 2.5cm by 1.5cm and 1.5cm deep that I had to go every day to get the dressing changed. I had to go to physio to get the mobility back in my hand/wrist. Now I have a lovely scar!

    If you think it’s a bad bite, better safe than sorry, go get it checked right away!!

    1. I too had a similar bite. My cat nailed me with all 4 canines. I spent 2 weeks going every other day to have the packing removed, wounds scraped, then repacked. Oral antibiotics for 4 weeks. This was 8 years ago. I still have scars. I lost my baby this past right before hi 17th birthday. If you’ve got them, there’s that slim chance it might happen.

  15. wife was bathing kitten in the kitchen sink, and when kitten started screaming our 2 yr old cat went into big brother mode and scratched and maybe gave me a very small bite (looks more like a scratch) even though i wasn’t even that close to the action. guess i wasn’t defending the kitten good enough? then after he showed me his displeasure he went around to my wife and bit her. we have cleaned our wounds with peroxide followed by antibiotic ointment. if our legs start to fall off i will update this thread, otherwise we either died in our sleep or came out of it just fine.
    i had heard that you can put a chip clip on cat’s neck to disable them during bathing, any truth to that?

    1. Hi William,

      Thanks for reaching out and sorry that this happened to you. Feel better.
      We do not suggest scruffing a cat — especially not with a chip clip. Here are humane alternatives:
      https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/scruffing-a-cat-you-shouldnt-do-it-how-to-restrain-a-cat-safely

      Advice on how to give a cat a bath:
      https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/how-to-give-a-cat-a-bath
      https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/should-you-bathe-a-cat-what-to-know-about-cat-baths
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/do-you-need-to-bathe-your-cat-heres-how-to-do-it-right
      https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/what-cats-need-grooming-bathing-and-brushing-your-cat

      And here’s more insight on cat bites:
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/how-to-stop-kitten-biting
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/how-to-detect-and-prevent-a-cat-attack

  16. I was bit by my uncles cat a few days ago. Didn’t think anything of it. Well today, its swollen, a bit red & has hard bumps where the teeth actually pierced the skin. It’s also very sore. After reading this, I will see a doctor tomorrow if still showing symptoms.

  17. Cat bites are very serious. Cats’ mouths contain pasteurella multocida, a Gram negative bacterium that can cause serious skin and soft tissue infection. Sometimes, infection just cannot be prevented at home, but there are a few things you can do. First, irrigate the wound(s) with tap water for 5-10 minutes, (yes, 5-10) using as much pressure as you can tolerate. In the ED, we use syringes to develop necessary pressure. Washing the wound off with water, soap, Betadyne, peroxide, or holy water will do little to the bacteria from the cat’s pointed teeth that have penetrated deep into the skin. If movement of a hand or foot is affected, the bite may have damaged a tendon. Testing for tendon function is a procedure that is best undertaken by an experienced emergency physician or hand surgeon. After the 5-10 minute irrigation under pressure, you may apply an antibiotic ointment. Even in spite of this treatment, in 1-3 days, you should see medical attention if swelling, redness, tenderness, pain, of discharge develop. Early infections can be treated with oral antibiotics; however, deeper ones may require parenteral administration, and unusually, hospitalization and/or surgery. Proper treatment initially is important to avoid more serious future issues.

  18. Robert Farquharson

    We have three cats, all separated to different parts of the house or they will fight. The cat my fiancee has on her bed (Tabby), has an issue with her and very unpredictable. He would be laying next to her on her bed being peaceful and all of a sudden will attack her, mainly at her face. Yet when I am called to stop him biting, once he hears me, he stops biting and head butts, and when I am out of sight he resumes biting her. He does this all the time.

  19. Marilyn Widdifield

    A few years ago our indoor cat bite my husbands finger right to the joint and he got such a bad infection that he was in hospital for six days on IV antibiotics. He was never able to fully straighten his finger after that because of the scar tissue that formed in the joint. Cat bites can be lethal!!

  20. We got a kitten when he was 2 months old and now he is 7 months, super loving and affectionate and loves to play. But a few days ago I was sleeping and he woke me up by biting my ear! It hurt so much and I realized it was bleeding a lot. I ended up going to a walk in clinic and got some antibiotics. But I just wanted to know if this has happened to anyone else and why a cat would do this? Is he just figuring out different ways to wake me up so he’ll get fed?
    The good part is I think he felt bad about it, because when I was applying pressure to the wound while sitting on my bed he was circling me and meowing in a way he’s never done before. Hopefully it won’t happen again.

  21. Living on farm, I have been bitten more times than I care to admit. Most of them of my own carelessness, but a few times out I wasn’t expecting it.
    My worst bite ever was picking up one of two cats that were “looking” at each other….they were not just looking at each other, they were getting ready to fight, but at the moment I saw them, I didn’t realize it. They were super friendly barn cats any other day. As I bent down to pick Mr. Whiskers up, he must have decided I was the aggressor. The big tom was large enough to have a mouth that fit over my wrist, with jaws clamped tightly, he bit and bit, as I shook my arm up and down as my only defense, I could feel his teeth going through the tendon of my thumb. Watching him at the end of my arm was like watching a slow motion movie. Finally, I was able to shake him free. Within 1/2 hour, my arm was swollen to my shoulder. Scary stuff! I went to the ER & I was given an immediate IV of antibiotics and a prescription for more at home. It seemed as soon as I went off the drugs, a new infection would pop up. I remained on them about 7 months–different kinds, different doses.
    I too have been bitten through a fingernail and that is a trip I would not like to take again!
    Cat bites that are more than innocent nips are nothing to ignore!

  22. So tonight the dog I rescued in the leukemia cat that I also Foster that have been together for a couple of months now got into horrible sight. I put the dog in the spare bedroom and didn’t see the cat for a couple of hours. I knew she had released her anal glands and was terrified, and still 2 hours later when she jumped on the bed she reeked. I went to pick her up so I could at least wash her off a bit and she immediately turned and sunk her teeth deep into my arms and started to scratch at me like she was attacking the dog or felt like she was being attacked again. The more I tried to pull her off me some more she scratched and scratched herself so badly that she was ripping her own hair out which made it worse. I literally had to swing my arm to dislodge her and sling her off of me. I did the same thing of scrubbing both of my arms and slather with antibiotic ointment. I do believe I’m going to end up at the hospital tomorrow because it hasn’t even done 30 minutes in the pain on the arm that she focused on is pretty intense, almost excruciating.

  23. I’m recovering from a seriously deep cat bite right now. I was bathing my cat, and he was howling then bit down hard on my hand and wrist, pulling out a chunk of flesh and a blood vessel with his lower teeth. It bleed profusely. I held it tightly with the other hand to try and stop the bleeding; the blood poured between my fingers and onto the floor, but did eventually stop.

    It was 10:30 pm. I had a friend drive me to the ER where it was cleaned and I was given oral antibiotics. The next morning my hand was puffy, red, and incredibly sore. I dropped by my doctor’s office, but there were no available appointments. I went back again the next morning. This time I was seen, told I have fasciitis and cellulitis and would likely need surgery. My arm and hand were red and ballooned. All the teeth marks were oozing pus. I was sent back to the ER

    At the ER, they took cultures, blood samples, x-rays and then administered IV antibiotics. The ER doctor thinks the limited mobility in my fingers is due to swelling and is hopeful the teeth missed the tendons. He told me to rest and keep it elevated.

    This morning it had not spread much. I could move my fingers a bit more, the swelling was greatly reduced. By this evening the swelling is mostly gone, the red has faded, I can see my knuckles and my wrinkly skin again. The area around the bite remainins very tender and my wrist as well as the joint below my thumb are very painful, but I can move them.

    The cleaner looking deep punctures hurt far more than where the cat took a chunk out. That was mostly fat.

    Cat bites can cause serious permanent damage if they are not treated right away. Get them seen by a professional. Don’t wait.

  24. My cat bit me last night and around 11 am, I got vaccinated. But my cat bit me again. Do I still need to get a shot even if I had it today or no?

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  26. I adopted an adult female cat to be a companion for my other adult female cat. Over the first 11 days she was in my home, the new cat was very affectionate – except for the 8 times she bit me without warning. (I do know the warning signs as I’ve owned cats for about 20 years) Four of the times was deep enough to break the skin, and I had to go to the ER for one of the bites.

    I became scared of this 5 pound bundle of cuddles, but was willing to work with her to stop the biting. I called the no kill shelter I adopted her from and they told me it was unlikely I could break the habit. So I returned her, but I feel guilty about it. Did I do the wrong thing returning her?

  27. December !st 2017 as I raised one leg to get into bed my cat appeared from nowhere, leaped up, grabbed my leg and left me with a wound at least “”2 ” inches square, and very deep, with no skin left. I doused it with tcp, and in the morning visited local hospital. nearly 4 months later the wound is smaller but still not healed. visiting local surgery twice a week for wound dressing. what can I do. will this ever heal?

    1. Hi there‚

      Sorry to hear you experienced this. We would continue following advice from medical professionals. Best of luck and feel better!

  28. Our house cat bit my daughter a few days ago. Didn’t even bleed but immediately swelled up a lot. I cleaned it with peroxide, making sure to get deep down inside. Next day was twice as swollen. Took her to the doctor, they sent us to ER. Spent 2 long days in the hospital on iv antibiotics. Guessing about a $4000 bill once it’s all said and done. Don’t take car bites lightly, especially with kids.

  29. Two of my cats were fighting. I separated them picked up peaches who was a little slow mentally. When I brought my hand up to pet him on the head he turned and bit my thunb right beside the nail. Peaches tooth went all the way through my thumb. It immediately swelled and hurt like the Dickens. I had to go to the Dr get antibiotics and pain meds it hurt that bad. Now I know peaches wasn’t trying to hurt me he saw something out of the corner of his eye and reacted. I believe he thought tiger was coming back for more. Now that was the only time peaches every bit me when I broke up there fights I was careful that peaches saw every move I made so he would know it was my hand and not the other cat. I believe the other cats started fights with peaches because he was different from them. Peaches might have been slow but he was a very loving cat. I miss him terribly.

  30. Having been owned by some 50+ cats in my 70 years, and being prone to roughhousing and playing “gonna gotcha!” with all of them, I’ve been bitten and scratched probably 1000+ times. Sometimes my hands looked more like hamburger than hands! STILL, no infections or other untoward effects in any way. I’ve heard of “cat-scratch fever” but thought it was just a figure of speech. Now, having read the comments, I guess I’ve been lucky. PS, great site! I wish I’d heard of it sooner.

    1. Oh wow. I run a cat rescue and can’t count how many times I have been shredded by cats, especially feral ones. And (knock on wood) never had any issues. A friend of mine broke up a cat fight on Friday. She went to the doc and got antibiotics and 24h later (yesterday) was in hospital. They cut her whole forearm open to drain the infection she got. It’s open to drain and will be stitched up tomorrow. And they are pumping her full of antibiotics too.

  31. I guess I was just very unlucky when my cat Max bit me. He was always a one person cat. Hiding when others were around, but so very sweet and gentle. The problem came when I had to move and get him in a carrier when the time came. He had been in carriers without issue before. But this time was different. He was very stress about the move. He wouldn’t let me catch him and when someone tried to help me he was even more stressed. I should have known better but I needed to get him out of there and kept trying to catch him. I finally caught him him and all of the sudden I felt a deep pain in my hand that was so painful that I actually screamed. I couldn’t believe my sweet Max did that. It bleed quite a bit and was very painful. Having no insurance I tried to treat at home with antibiotic cream and soaks. Keeping my arm elevated to reduce the swelling. Unfortunately, over the next three days the swelling, pain and redness got worse and as a nurse I knew this was getting serious so I went to Emergency Room where I was immediately admitted and put on IV antibiotics. After two days the swelling was still severe and I ended up needing surgery to get rid of the infection which had gone into the tendon and shaft in my wrist. I was in the hospital for about three and a half weeks on the IV antibiotics. It was a nightmare but I never blamed Max as many people did. I knew I had ignored his signals to back off and that he was absolutely terrified. Never ignore persistent pain and swelling Get help immediately if you know it was a deep bite or if swelling and redness persists. It can cost you more than a hospital bill if you ignore it.

    1. Thank you for the advice.

      My 19 year old cat bit my right hand today. One puncture wound. I was petting her chin area, and it’s not the first time she’s indicated she doesn’t like that. I was wondering if there is anything in her chin area causing her some pain, but she wouldn’t let me look or touch the chin area. Today she let me know to back off by biting me. I immediately went to the bathroom to wash the area with antibacterial soap and water, swabbed it with alcohol, placed an antibiotic ointment on the area, and covered it with a bandaid. It didn’t bleed but I could see red in the puncture. She followed close behind me when I went to wash the area, and followed me to the bedroom where I keep my first aid kit. I know she was worried about me. I know her following me around was her way of saying, “hey, are you ok? I’m sorry.”

      The area is a little swollen. I called my Oncologist to ask if I need a round of antibiotics.
      I am under chemotherapy treatment for bone marrow cancer, and am waiting to hear back. My cat is up to date on her shots but it’s important, like you said, to follow up ASAP.

  32. First of all I have to say I absolutely love the Catster magazine!! I have really learned quite a bit about why my cat does some of the most off the wall things and learning the different ways she communicates with me. I have a great 10 month old kitten that is so overactive and I love that. Her name is Asteric ( my 4 yr old nephew named her)
    and we roughhouse play a lot so I get scratched and bitten quite a bit and she can sure draw blood. We play hide and seek and I’m gonna getcha but I’m the one that’s usually got!! I really haven’t had any problems with my cat bites and she’s had her shots but I let her outside to play for awhile when I get home from work in the morning. Im really trying to turn into an inside cat because she has no fear of anything and goes into cow pastures and old barns and underneath my neighbors trailers and stands up to a neighbors pit bull and gets right in his face so I got to thinking that she could pick up a germ or something from water that has been sitting after a hard rain then when she cleans her paws and then bites me. I have started wondering if she could be carrying some kind of something. She doesn’t act like she feels bad but she has these crazy fits where she runs and tries to climb up walls and I wonder if that’s just being a kitten or if she may have ingested something. I just wash my arms and hands with regular soap and put antibiotic gel and a bandaid on the bites and scratches. I haven’t really been concerned about it but should I watch out for something like taking a while to heal. They never have become swollen but have had a few red rings around some. Just guess I should keep a closer eye on these signs of her showing me who’s in charge. Again I love this magazine and my emails I get from y’all. Thanks, Debbie( the mom) I think!!

  33. michael tischler

    just had a run in with my boy Nyan yesterday (Japanese for Meow). He’s a rescue he came up to our door last year this time crying out in pain it was several degrees below zero and there was a lot of snow on the ground. My wife made him a little enclosure out of card board and put blankets in it and said “under no circumstances is that cat to come inside.” My reply was I am the primary bread winner of this family and if he is still here and alive when we come back today he is not only coming inside he will become a part of our family. So Nyan was named he came into our house and he was severely underweight (we thought he was a kitten the vet informed us that he was at least 2) and we thought undersized boy were we amazed when he blew up to 12 pounds from 6 pounds its like we put him underneath a faucet and let the water run filling him up like a water balloon… I digress I’m sorry I actually love this cat we nursed him back to health – someone through this wonderful beautiful loving fur ball into the street in South Dakota’s cold winters merely because he was sick… He had some dhiaria issues and it took a long time for him to gain weight, months before he trusted any of us, fed him watered him listened to him…. watched him move around the house exploring…. he’s a happy cat now, very loving, very independent…. he prances just to hear his bell … my point is I love this young man… he bit me deep it was my fault… I think he caught a tendon and a bone… I was told that I should not report it if I go to the Dr that it was my cat because I would be forced to put him down… But if I don’t report that it was my cat who is current on all of his shots and is for the most part an indoor (he does his business outside in the dog run and sometimes thinks he’s a raccoon and gets halfway up the tree) I would be forced to put him down… not another family member not another time I was forced three times already Bear Bear was psychotic (dog) but I didn’t like watching him lose his life, Moo Moo was our overweight handicapped chiuahua she had a short leg her left side and limped everywhere she could go blind in both eyes she trusted he sensed of smell… wonderful creature of god she was so fat… 13 lbs

  34. I have been bitten many times by cats. I think that has always been my fault for misreading behavior signs. In summer of 2016 I was bitten by my own cat. It was a hot day and the cat had very long hair and I was trying to help him by removing extra hair. He was purring, he was rubbing against me, he was happy…and then suddenly he was not. He bit me in the pinkie knuckle of my hand. I washed well, applied peroxide and antibiotic ointment and went on my way. Twelve hours later, when I woke, my hand was red, hot and swollen like a balloon. Went to the emergency room. Red streaks already partially up my arm. The nurse told me I was likely to be admitted, but the doctor gave me an antibiotic prescription and sent me home. The next day I was back. The infection was spreading and had reached my elbow. Long story short: I had to have surgery on my hand and spent the next three days in the hospital with an iv antibiotic drip. The surgeon said that cat bites are among the worst, because of the sharpness and many bacterias and because it was in a joint the spread of bacteria was nearly immediate. I was lucky that the sepsis did not kill me. I am allergic to penicillin and it could have gone very wrong.
    I was bitten by a cat again two days ago, in the pinkie knuckle area of the opposite hand. I got to the emergency room as soon as I could to be put on two antibiotics which treat different types of bacterias. Location, location, location. Cat bites are no joke.

  35. Reached out in my sleep at 2am last night and somehow upset my cat. He sunk his teeth into my forearm. Got up, washed it off good, and used a little pressure to stop the bleeding. Then I went back to sleep.

    By 2pm today (yep, only 12hr later) there was a red swollen area 2in in diameter with streaks already starting to run up my arm. Went to urgent care and got antibiotics. The doctor said that if I had waited until the next day the infection probably would have gone up my whole arm. Google pasteurella multocida, it’s nothing to mess with.

  36. Pingback: Scruffing a Cat — Why You Shouldn’t Do It and How to Restrain a Cat the Right Way – user's Blog!

  37. I was not today by a young cat my dog and the cat were in our yard I don’t know the cat and it had no collar I was trying to separate the two and was hit by the cat puncture bite

    The cat died
    I went to the dr they gave me a shot and antibiotics
    Then I filled out a paper and had to turn it in th the health department.
    They asked if we could get the cat and bring it in for testing. We will know if it had Rabbies in 24 hours.
    What will happen if it is tested positive ??????
    What next? I am frightened.

      1. My son left on a trip and left the cat with his sister the cat was at our house. She came to pick it up and it attacked 4 of us but got my daughter really bad. Her hand looks just like the hand in the picture. I told her to clean it out well with perioxide then put a baking soda paste on it to draw the poison out then to take Benadryl and then put antibiotic cream and bandage it up. I am hoping being very conscious with doctoring hope she doesn’t have to go to the hospital. It wasn’t the cats fault the cat didn’t know us strange place and 4 of us trying to catch her was bad on our part. I should of known better that to do that she was just getting use to me since she had been here a whole week. She is a indoor cat only and very spoiled

  38. I got bitten by my 1 year old kitten yesterday. Now,it bled,but not a lot. It looked like a scratch but it really hurt more than usual. It was right at the point between my index finger and my thumb. The only thing is,is that my skin was already very sensitive and dry because of the season (It happens every year around the end of Fall) so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. She didn’t hiss or growl,it was like she was playing. She was purring and smiling and then bit me!It’s never been that painful,so I washed it out,covered it with a bandage and left it. In the morning I checked on it and no swelling,didn’t look like an infection but it’s sore around that area. Could it have just been my sensitive skin?Or was it a really bad bite?Update me as soon as possible. Thanks.
    Ps. I’m 13

  39. This article and all the comments were so helpful for my first cat bite! I got bit yesterday by my cat at a visit to the vet. The vet assistant was being over aggressive and when I stepped in it was already to late and my cat was angry and bit me. Her canine went into my middle finger right under my nail and the bottom tooth right on the other side. I cared for it right away but my whole finger has now swollen up! I will be seeing a doctor when I get a chance. To all the other cat bite culprits out there, be careful and make sure your cat is in good hands at the vet! And make sure you see a doctor just in case!

  40. My cat just got in a fight with my other cat. I went to pick him up to stop the fight but as I did he hissed and bit me. He never ever hisses nor bites he’s only 1. I put peroxide on it and also elevated it. Should I see a doctor?

    1. Hi there— We suggest going to a medical professional for this sort of advice. Best of luck and hope you’re feeling better!

  41. Hello – My kitten bit me just a few minutes ago. He was playing with another kitten and suddenly the other kitten’s claw was stuck in his eyelid. He was screaming a lot so i went to help him. Instead he bit me on the top part of my index finger. I let it bleed out for sometime then i applied an antiseptic liquid. It stopped bleeding but it is throbbing a lot. And luckily his eyeball wasn’t scratched just his eyelid.
    So should I go see a doctor?

    1. I was bitten the day after Thanksgiving by my kitten who I had rescued at the age of 3 weeks. He was 5 months when he bit me. He was trapped in a metal piece of furniture and his leg was broken. I tried to help him and he bit me on the wrist. It hurt a lot. I called the vet and he sent someone to help. The kitten had to be sedated. While waiting for the vet, I called my doctor and said I was bitten by a cat. They called in antibiotics. I picked them up and started taking them that afternoon after returning from the vet. But 24 hours later, the wound looked worse, was throbbing and swelling, red, tender to touch, and my hand was hard to move. I had to stop moving and rest with a heating pad on it for 2 hours and then I slept (such as it was) with it wrapped in a heating pad for about 12 hours. (luckily it was the week-end and I could do that) After that it seems to have been improving substantially and today is Monday evening and the swelling and pain are minimal. Hopefully it will be fine.

    2. Hi Cleo—

      Hope you’re feeling better. If the bite does not appear to be healing normally, please consult a doctor.

  42. I got bitten and scratched on Thanksgiving Day, November 23rd, by my kitty because I accidentally stepped on her; I was getting clothes from inside the closet and completely unaware she had laid down on the floor behind me so when I stepped back to turn around with a pile of clothes in my arms I hear this cat yowl and i realized it was her and not a pile of clothing I was stepping on so I tried to get out of that stance but lost my balance then I felt her bite me. This all happened in such a blur of a few seconds. She ran and I felt so bad. She ran from me as if scared of me which made me feel even worse. I was able to catch her and kept hugging and kissing her and she realized it was an accident. I checked her out and she was okay. I put pressure on it to stop the bleeding then washed it off and put ointment on it with a bandage. It was Thanksgiving so was in a hurry plus I also had to go to work at 5pm. I knew my leg was hurting but the store I worked at was extremely busy I had no time to even think about the pain. When I got home at 1am I took the band-aid off and I seen infection so I pushed out the white pus and really cleaned the wounds. It is now 3 days later and still painful, red and swollen. If not better tomorrow morning I’m going to the doctor.

    1. I got my bite almost the same way this past Monday except I was getting ready for work and my Chloe’ is always at my feet (cause she loves me so much). This time she was behind me and of course I didn’t see her. I stepped back, she screamed then I screamed. Both from being startled and then the pain I felt at the back of my ankle. I felt so bad that I immediately went to find my sweet baby and console her. She was fine. I think she actually felt bad too for hurting me. I cleaned up my two puncture wounds, place bandages on them and went to work. By mid morning I could hardly walk. I went to the doctor right after work and he told me how serious a cat bite is. I have had many cats my whole life and now in my 50’s have never experienced this before but it is very important to see a doctor right away. As we all know/learn, because it is an actual “puncture”, serious bacteria gets trapped and can’t be cleaned out. Never realized how my sweet little fur babies could have such an impact. Hope you and everyone else on this site is feeling better.

  43. My cat just bit me. It’s November 24, 2017, and I’m 14. I’ve had this experience before, but my cat lunged onto my left forearm and palm. There was no warning. She bit my thumb and index finger, and she scratched my forearm with her back claws. She’s an outside cat, and I’d like to know if I should be aware of any infectious diseases this might cause? I washed he wounds with hydrogen peroxide and warm water. Then, I dressed the wounds with an ace bandage. (Sorry for poor grammar and spelling. I’m still calculating what happened.)

  44. When a sweet or nice cat bites for no reason, it may be because their skin has a touchy spot from a flea, tick or other bite you cannot see, scratching or biting an itch which cut into their skin, illness, infection, abscess in the skin, mouth or somewhere else, minor injury you cannot detect, or any number of reasons. If only they could speak the human language…

  45. I got bitten today by a big black stray cat. He’s been visiting our garden for months now and getting more confident. I felt sorry for him so reached my hand out and he didn’t run away. I then moved my hand to try and stroke the back of his head … but he reacted incredibly quickly and sank his teeth into my fingers. Ouch! I felt hot and panicky and the pain was awful! I visited the local Minor Injuries unit where they washed the wounds with saline, gave me paracetamol, dressed the wound and prescribed antibiotics. I still feel a bit shaky now, although still sorry for the cat, and my hand is red, swollen and hot.

  46. Both my cats had bitten me (in fairness because I stepped on their tails). I didn’t think anything of it. Several weeks later I became very ill which I thought was due to other health issues so I called the ambulance. It turns out that I actually got Pasteurella from one of them. I was in the hospital ICU for 6 days and then another 4 days in a regular room. I was off work another 2 weeks on bed rest.

  47. Today is Wednesday, 8 November 2017.
    My cat bit & scratched me at about 9 pm, Monday, 6 November. My dog, a Pit Bull-Yellow Lab mix, is a happy and bouncy sort of four-year old. I was putting him away for the evening in the garage. The dog & cat have been chummy for years, with never a problem between them.
    For reasons known only to the cat, my feline buddy went berserk, jumped up onto me; screaming & yowling. He landed on my left arm, planting all “27,000 claws & 10,000 teeth” into the dorsal side of my forearm between elbow and wrist; then somehow managed to bite my left thumb and index finger, just forward of the joints, but not in them. His bites also penetrated the thumbnail into the nail bed (that was an ‘owee’)
    All the wounds were deep and caused significant bleeding. One bite must have nicked a small vein, as that bite bled copiously for five minutes before I applyied a clotting patch from my hunting med kit.
    I let all the wounds bleed for up to 10 minutes then washed the entire arm first with hydrogen peroxide, followed by a boric acid wash, then sprayed the entire area with 91% alcohol.
    My wife made up flexible ice packs, which I used for about two hours to control swelling from the injuries themselves; after which I slathered all the wounds with Neosporin then covered all with Band Aid (brand) non-stick pads and wrapped the arm with gauze.
    Tuesday morning I unwrapped the arm to find minor swelling and some residual soreness in the thumb and slight swelling of the index finger. I repeated the three-step wash and re-wrapped all the wounds. By late afternoon while out hog hunting, my thumb became very sore. Upon returning home I unwrapped the arm to find the thumb badly swollen, red & warm to the touch. As our nearest emergency room is 25 miles away I decided to wait until this morning to see our local doc.
    My idiot cat’s bite apparently missed the joint caps in both the thumb & index finger but did hit the bone itself.
    Doc gave me Ampicillin 125 mg (2x daily for 15 days) and Mupirocin ointment. For the discomfort I’m taking Ibuprofen 200 mg x3, twice a day.
    My infection (hopefully) is not Pasturella Multoceda, which is a very difficult to treat bacterium. I say this because the violent-red of the index finger infection area and on the thumb has already begun to fade in just two hours after taking the antibiotic, and the index finger swelling is beginning to subside; as is the really ugly purple over the thumb joint.
    Doc says the way I gave myself emergency treatment: let it bleed, thorough washing & disinfecting, and repeating the washing procedure probably saved my having to be admitted to hospital for intravenous antibiotics.
    Hope this info helps others with cat bites.

  48. I was just bitten today by a seemingly sweet and affectionate cat. She was rubbing against me through the cage and purring, but when the handler gave her to me she suddenly lashed out. She chomped down on my thumb multiple times in quick recession, as hard and deep as I think she possibly could. The woman struggled to tear the cat away from me. I know the cat had to be extremely frightened, but I can’t think of why…and neither can the handlers. Nobody can figure out what must’ve triggered her reaction, except somehow she became overstimulated. Anyway, I visited my doctor and he prescribed antibiotic + epsom salt. As I’m sitting here typing this, the pain/swelling from her bite is unbearable…and it’s only been a few hours! Still, I feel sorry for the poor kitty, and I wish I could understand why she lashed out.

  49. We rescued a young male cat (at about 6 months) who is neutered and is now 8 years old. I’ve learned not to play rough because he gets too aggressive. At night when he’s ready to go out he gets that “look” in his eye and cry, I know better than to touch him and just let him out for the night (twice during these years, he’s bitten me hard enough that it was infected and I had to go to the dr). During the day he usually is a calm, loving, lap sitting cat. However, lately even during the day when he is usually calm, he will react and bite for no reason. (We live in FL and the weather has just turned cooler). Not sure what to do anymore. Any suggestions?

    1. gidget. I would suggest you have your cat seen by a vet , the sudden aggression might be due to health issue , especially if is also an outdoor cat,

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