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The potential dangers posed by cat bites

When conversations turn to the types of dangerous animal bite cases we handle here at Harting, Simkins, and Ryan, most typically assume them to involve dog bites. Yet while dog bites usually rank among the most common type of animal attack cases, it’s their partners in the domestic pet world that produce some of the most dangerous bites. Every year, countless people in Long Beach are bitten by cats. While it may seem hard to fathom, cat bites will often present an even greater danger to attack victims.

It’s often not the bite itself that poses the most danger when a cat attacks. Rather, it’s what happens afterward that bite victims need to worry about. According to animal bite data collected by Massachusetts General Hospital, cat bites have 20 to 50 percent occurrence rate of infection compared to only 7 to 20 percent of dog bites. One of the reasons is the nature of the bites themselves. Because cats have a much smaller bite radius than dogs, cat bite wounds are often more difficult to treat with disinfectant. Plus, cat canine teeth are sharper and more elongated than those of dogs, and thus are more likely to pierce the skin.

A cat’s natural oral flora contains several common disease-causing pathogens, such as streptococcus and staphylococcus. Pasteurella multocida and Bartonella henslae are organisms that are unique to cats, with the former being the cause of the commonly known “cat scratch fever.” Infections caused by these pathogens may be manifested by:

  •          Cellulitis around the bite area
  •          Fever
  •          Pneumonia
  •          Osteomyelitis
  •          Endocarditis

Due to the danger that cat bites present, victims are often recommended to begin a course of antibiotic treatment immediately following the attack.

To learn more about cat and other animal bites, visit our Dog Bites page.  

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