What to Do about a Cat Bite

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Section II: Going to the Dogs
(Or Cats)

12. Stray cat tried biting me today . . .

…but I just got a minor scratch from its teeth with very little blood which stopped immediately after wash. Precautions?

If any animal whose health history is unknown to you bites you, go to your doctor, for hevvinsake! At this time, the main source of rabies infections in the US is the cat. Once rabies symptoms appear, there is nothing anyone can do to save your life.

But rabies is only part of the story. Cats carry any number of unpleasant and even life-threatening diseases.

When I was a toddler, my mother’s cat scratched me in the face. A rash soon developed, which was diagnosed as cat-scratch fever. In the late 1940s, civilian doctors didn’t have a lot of experience with antibiotics, so they prescribed them for everything and anything. I developed an allergic reaction to the drug they gave me and nearly died from it. They told my mother that I would not live through the night.

As you can imagine, this was somewhat stressful for her.

Fortunately, I do not remember it. The message, though, is that you do not want a cat biting and scratching you. Especially not a stray cat, or someone’s pet that you know little about.

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