Cat Bites Can Be a Serious Matter!

Don’t Take a Cat Bite Lightly

cat bitesMy two cats, Peanut and Jelly, have been shedding excessively. Perhaps this is due to the heavy coats they acquired over one of the harshest winters we have had in Ohio in years.

I usually don’t bathe my cats, but I thought a bath with a special shampoo to decrease shedding would be of benefit and rid my house of all the cat hair.

I bathed five-year-old Jelly solo with no problem. However, I knew my fifteen-year-old cat, Peanut, would freak out, so I enlisted my husband to assist me.

As he had a grip on Peanut in the laundry tub, I wet the hysterical cat with warm water and massaged the shampoo into his thick coat. He was as hyper as I expected; attempting to jump out of the tub and screeching during the entire bath. As I was about to complete the final rinse and directed the hose to his chest area, he opened his mouth as wide as he could and his upper and lower teeth clamped down on my hand relentlessly. This was the first time Peanut has ever bitten me in fifteen years and I was not only in excruciating pain, but saddened that he would do such a thing to his master!

My hand began to swell within minutes. I went to the emergency room at a local hospital where they advertise “30 minutes until being treated.” Right. No, wrong! I had to wait two hours before I was finally escorted to a cubicle in the Emergency Express unit. Fortunately for me, the patient ahead of me walked out without treatment due to the excessive weight, so I was seen by the ER physician within thirty minutes of arriving at the cubicle — not the promise of thirty minutes upon arriving at ER.

The ER physician ordered x-rays of my hand which proved to be negative and I was released with a diagnosis of a cat bite with contusion and was given a prescription for Amoxicillin to prevent infection. It was unfortunate that no labs were ordered, for they would have proved I was already infected.

As I was waiting for my prescription to be filled at the pharmacy, I began to experience chills, general malaise, as well as increased swelling and redness of the hand. By the time I returned home, my fever had spiked and I called my oncologist. Being I have Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and I am immunocompromised, he contacted the hospital and had me direct admitted to a floor to begin the administration of IV antibiotics.

The next day, an infectious disease specialist was on consult. She told me how serious a cat bite could become, for a cat’s mouth has dangerous bacteria, especially Pasteurella bacteria on its incisors.

It was four days on IV antibiotics before I could finally see my knuckles. I was discharged with 875 mg. of Augmentin twice daily for ten days.

As I write, I am still experiencing some pain, as well as a lump under the scar where Peanut’s top tooth pierced the top of my hand. No, I am not angry at Peanut; I am angry with myself for not being more cautious knowing how Peanut would be traumatized by his bath.

Cat owners, beware! A cat bite can be serious, for the bacteria they have in their mouths can infect one’s bloodstream quickly and cause one to become septic. Fortunately, my infection was stopped in time by contacting my oncologist. He was wise enough to have me direct admitted to the same hospital I had just left after I was diagnosed with a cat bite and mere contusion.

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