Cat Nip: Cat Bites and How to Prevent Them
When cats bite, it is nothing to mess around with. Cat bites can be extremely painful and have been known to lead to very serious infections. So how can cat owners keep themselves safe and steer clear of those pearly white? A little education goes a long way. Most cat bites are preventable. Keep reading to be sure that you know how to protect yourself and your family.
When Good Cats Bite
Biting is a natural part of cat behavior. Even during play, you can witness feline friends wrestling, swatting, and nipping. During these behaviors they are developing their hunting skills and exerting their social muscles. This type of play is most commonly seen in kittens, but cats of all ages engage.
Sometimes, however, these behaviors become directed at people instead of other cats. Even if the cat is just playing, injury can result. Besides play/social biting, a cat may bite for other reasons as well. These can include:
- Pain / illness
The Danger of Cat Bites
When cats bite, things can turn dangerous very quickly. This is because a cat’s teeth tend to cause small but deep puncture wounds. These can seal over very quickly, trapping infection deep inside.
A cat’s mouth also often contains bacteria that are very prone to causing severe infections in tissue. The most common and devastating of these is the bacteria Pasteurella.
The combination of these two factors make cat bites something to not take lightly. Untreated, an infected cat bit can result in infection in the surrounding tissues (cellulitis) and eventual blood infection (septicemia).
If you are bitten by a cat, it is important to visit your doctor right away. Antibiotics are almost always needed to prevent serious and even life-threatening infection from ensuing. Cat bites can also transmit the rabies virus, which is another important consideration, especially if the animal in question is not vaccinated.
Prevention is Key
Avoiding cat bites is important in keeping yourself and your family healthy and safe.
Take the time to learn a little about cat body language. In general, a cat who is growling, hissing, or otherwise vocalizing should be left alone. Also tread lightly around a cat who has his or her ears pinned back, whiskers pointed forward, dilated pupils, a swishing tail, or an arched back. Pay close attention when petting or interacting with your cat that he or she may be done with you. Cats often give subtle signs that they are unhappy before biting.
You can also redirect your cat’s rough play behavior by providing appropriate outlets for him or her. Be sure to:
- Provide a variety of toys that are rotated often
- Allow your cat to explore objects such as boxes, bags, or new household items
- Dedicate at least ten minutes a day to interactive play with your cat (never play with your hands)
- Redirect any aggression aimed at you or your family to appropriate toys
- Stop play time if things escalate to biting or scratching
Cats make great additions to our families, but cat bites do not. Schertz Animal Hospital is here to help you understand your cat’s behavior and reduce the incidence of cat bites. Please call us today if you have questions about your cat or need help dealing with a problem. We are happy to help.
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Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!