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Scratched and possibly bitten by a stray

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Ok, my FI and I walk to our humane society about once a week or so to bring in some donations and give some love to the adult cats that have been there for awhile. Since it's so nice today, we headed over there (even though we were just there on Friday) and in the parking lot next to our HS (which has a lot of open ground and woods around it), we saw a black/white small cat meowing. I sent my FI in to tell them there was a cat outside and I approached it to see if it was friendly. Well, I got about 5 feet away from her (just calling it a her b/c of her small size, it could be either) before she didn't want me to get any closer, so I crouched down and held my hand out. She immediately came up and started rubbing on me and head butting me. I was petting her and things were fine and FI came back and said the HS said it was probably feral and to leave it alone. At this point the cat was practically in my lap on the ground so I sent him back. Someone came out with a crate and asked me to grab her, when I did she exploded in screams and claws. I let go when it was clear she wasn't going to calm down and have tons of scratches on my arms. Since it all happened so fast, I'm not positive I wasn't bit. I don't want her to be put down so I told them I wasn't bit and only scratched. I don't have bite marks on me but I do have some pretty deep punctures that could easily be from claws or teeth. Is there anything I should watch out for in case she did bite me?

Sorry this is so long, I wanted to make sure b/c I'm going to go back tomorrow and try to feed her and trap her eventually. I figured I would just wait and go to the ER if I get a fever but I wanted some advice.

post #2 of 28
Ideally it would be best for you to go to a doctor, but honestly, I have had this happen to me so many times and I just wait it out. If you get the doctors involved they will want to know all about the cat and want to it quarentine and may even want to give you rabies shots, possibly euthanize the cat for being "viscious". Clean it well, scrub it with iodine if you can or at least antibacterial soap and put neosporin on it and give it a few days.

The cat is obviously not feral or else you wouldn't have caught more then a glimpse of it before it disappeared and took off. Next time, even if the cat seems sweet and loving, scruff it on the back of the neck and lift it into a carrier or whatever. Don't pick it up like you would a pet cat.
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I grabbed her by her scruff and shoulda been smart enough to keep her pinned to the ground but as soon as she got her back claws into me I lifted her off the ground to grab the back feet, hoping to hold her by the scruff and back feet, the HS lady was walking so slowly and as soon as the cat started to struggle she just stopped and started to yell at me to let her go.

I'll know better next time...:: but I am calling tomorrow to say if they catch her I'd like to foster her.
post #4 of 28
How do the scratches look now? If you have anything that looks like increasing swelling/redness/pus discharge you should go on antibiotics. (they usually give you Augmentin, unless you're allergic to penicillan.) Cats saliva can contain a bacteria and can cause nasty infections, usually this occurs with bites. Did you wash the areas with anti bacterial soap or use alcohol on it? As far as rabies, all mammals can carry rabies but cats are seldom infected with it. Rabies is most frequently found in bats, skunks, racoons and unvaccinated dogs. You can check with your state board of health for rabies statistics..you may find it on line. If you tell this to the doctor that you may have been bit, they will notify animal control. The cat will probably be euthanized and its brain examined for rabies. Another option for you to ease your mind would be for you to trap the cat and observe it for 10 days...it would be apparent within 10 days if the cat had rabies, in fact it probably would look sick if it bit you at the time it had the disease.
So, I'm not going to say you have nothing to worry about, but your chances of getting something like rabies is pretty slim, and if you have an infection from a bite there are antibiotics available.
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
I'm almost positive she's not rabid, as she readily came meowing up to me when I sat down and was so friendly (even purring when I was petting her). The scratches are a bit more swollen than my FI's 2 scratches but I was allergic to cats when I was younger so I'm used to scratches swelling up a bit (but my cats haven't scratched me in a long time, so I'm not sure how I would react to non-stray scratches.

There's really just two of the punctures that I'm worried about but there's not excessive swelling or any puss. I did wash the wounds out with antibacterial soap and hydrogen peroxide and the deeper ones are covered in band-aids.

Thanks for easing my worries, it was really my FI that's been checking on me every 5 minutes. But he's still up for trying to catch her with food and a humane trap .
post #6 of 28
I would keep rinsing it with peroxide as often as you can, and if you happen to have an antibiotic ointment around, that would be good too! Good luck with this little kitty!!
post #7 of 28
The punctures I would be a little more concerned about, but if you washed with antibacterial soap, that's pretty much all I do. I've had my share of outsiders (feral) snips and snaps, but if you just wash it good, it should be OK.
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
Yay, all the cuts/scratches are healing nicely. They started to get red, hot, and swollen the day after it happened but since I used to be allergic to cats when I was younger I figured it was probably an allergic reaction. I took some Benadryl (sp?) and most of the swelling went down. I work in a lab and have to wash my hands all the time so the wounds were well cleansed with both Anti-Bacterial Soap at home and the heavy-duty Anti-Microbial stuff at work. Now everything is scabbed over and healing nicely. She did get one nice puncture in, even bruised around it she had so much force.

I've tried going back there the past two days to feed her but she wasn't around, I left food and it was gone but anything could have eaten it. I'm going to call the HS and see if they caught her.
post #9 of 28
Your immune system has a lot to do with how you fight off infections, etc. Glad these are healing nicely. I had some very deep cat bites last year and it turned into cellutitis...spent 6 days in the hospital because of cat bites! But I'm a diabetic and my immune system is compromised. Needless to say, I take every cat bite very very seriously.
post #10 of 28
Bites and scratches are pretty much a given when handling stray and feral cats; they can be painful but most are ultimately harmless. The worst I've seen was a bite on the forearm The Other Half got recapturing an escaped feral; it got infected and was reddened and leaked pus for a few days. Not uncommon, as a cat's mouth is a bacteriological zoo.

The good news is that relatively few cats are rabid--I've yet to run into one. And diseases endemic to cats don't jump the species barrier to humans....
post #11 of 28
Vets and assistants are all required to have rabies shots, and our vet recommends that people actively involved in rescue get them as well.

We know a number of people that have gotten seriously ill from cat scratches - the most important thing to watch for (if you want to avoid the Docs at least at first) is whether or not you develop a fever. It's been long enough now I have to agree all is well - but don't try that again without long leather gloves! (Which we have in the car - but you were out for a walk, so I got nothin' for ya there, lol!)

post #12 of 28
After dealing with Anna, who was as feral as they came (and is now doing nicely), we made sure to invest in the proper equipment--long, kevlar reinforced gauntlets, a grasper and a net on a long pole.

Feral cats are nothing to mess around with--be sure you're able to use your equipment to recapture, immobilize and control an escaped feral, but do so with your own safety in mind....
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
yeah, we're normally very good about catching strays (usually not ferals) b/c they wander over around our apartment complex. Long sleeves, long leather gloves, etc. My FI and I have worked out a fairly good system but since we were out on a walk we didn't have anything and it was starting to get dark, since she climbed in my lap when I sat on the ground I knew she wasn't feral and I thought she might be calm enough to get in the cage but the HS helper was walking very slowly towards us, even after I had her grabbed. I'm fairly certain if I had kept her pinned to the ground she would be safe inside. We keep going back there but haven't found her yet, but the food we leave out always gets eaten, so I hope she's getting at least a little of it.
post #14 of 28
five days ago i was either scratched or bit by a kitten i found. should i be worried as i now have a slight fever 99.7. i still have the kitten and she's fine except for diarrhea. should i be worried?? should i see the DR?
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
are you exhibiting any other symptoms? i'm not quite sure on this one (since I luckily didn't get a fever), perhaps you should start a new post. Is the kitten acting weird at all? Is she friendly? How did the bite happen? What does the wound look like now? How long ago were you bitten?
post #16 of 28
The kitten is acting like a kitten. the only time she growls is when my grown cat gets too close. it happened saturday night, but like you it happened fast and i dont know if its a scratch or a bite. what symptoms should i look for. i dont want to go to the doctor if they are going to kill her but i dont want to risk rabies either.
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
the fever, hallucinations, and general malaise are I think the most common symptoms. If it's been 5 days and the kitten isn't acting rabid you should be safe. Very few cats carry rabies (the majority of human cases from the last 50 years are from bat bites).

What does the wound look like? A long scratch or a puncture wound (perhaps more than one close to each other). Did she even break the skin (as kittens will often bite but fail to break the skin) Is it red/swollen/oozing/painful? My cuts heals pretty quickly, only getting red/swollen b/c I'm slightly allergic to cats (some Benedryl took away those symptoms).

Also, how's the weather where you live? Is it likely you've got a fever due to a cold/flu or, like IN, crazy warm/freezing temp changes that can weaken the immune system?

If I were you I wouldn't be too worried unless other symptoms start to appear. If you do feel the need to go to the doctor, you can tell something similar to my story, then your kitten won't have to be put down, but make sure you describe the behavior of the "stray" to the doctor as your kitten is acting, but the test for rabies in humans isn't very pleasant (though I suppose you could just ask for the shot).
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
I just read your post about when you found her. I seriously doubt she has rabies. As far as her diarrhea, it could still be a side-effect of the vaccinations (they are, afterall, poison). What kind of food are you feeding her? Has she gotten outside at all since you've brought her in?

*Edit: Sorry, I meant wormers are poison
post #19 of 28
Thanks so much for the help. i had one little pinpoint mark that is almost gone and about a half inch away i little line that looks like a scratch or maybe a tear that is 1/8 inch long. that one is a little red. it only hurts if i poke at it.
the weather has been crazy here too and my fiancee is under the weather. i was afraid to lie about saying it was "stray" and ran away but thats a good idea. i hope they wont go on a wild goose chase looking for the "stray"
i never knew vaccines were poison so hope fully thats why the diarrhea. the vet gave her amoxicillian. she hasnt gotten out since i brought her home so thats not of concern. she has been eating iams kitten food (dry) and friskies canned food.
do you know what the symptoms in a cat are so i can keep an eye out?
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
In cats the disease tends to take over and kill within 2-6 weeks of exposure. Since rabies affects the brain, the first stage causes dramatic changes in behavior, namely, a friendly cat will become shy, withdrawn, and skittish while a wild animal will become friendly. That stage usually lasts 1-2 days. After that, the animal will become quite ferious, "Animals become restless and irritable and are hyperresponsive to auditory and visual stimuli. As they become more restless, they begin to roam and become more irritable and vicious. " Cats only tend to survive this stage for a week, after that they will begin a painful death, often by seizures or respiratory failure.


That's where I got a lot of my information when I got scratched.

As far as her food, you may want to try upgrading her to something better. I know a lot of cats do just fine on those foods but since she is still weak from living outside and getting her shots and is doing a fair amount of growing at her age, you may want to get a pet store and buy a higher quality food (check the nutrition board, they LOVE to talk about the best brands). But the diarrhea may also be caused by the fact that she's not used to eating cat food, while outside she probably ate bugs and garbage. When she got her vaccinations was she checked for worms? Often cats that get outside, even for a short amount of time, will get parasites and those are easy to treat, but they do need to be treated.
post #21 of 28
the vet did worm her, they said that coulve cause the diarrhea. and when i found her she had been someones pet as she had a collar but with no tags on it. i looked in the papers but still cant find her owner. thanks for the link to the site, i'll check it out. and also i'll get some higher quality cat food too. she doesnt look sick at all she always playing, running around and getting into everything. she does beg for people food which i wont give her cause i heard it bad for her.
post #22 of 28
Worm medications don't work instantly, it may be a day or so before she produces a solid stool. As for your own wounds, watch them carefully and apply antibacterial ointments--more than likely that will do the job, especially with scratches.

Bites are another matter. Those are deep punctures with a tendency toward infection, as cats have bacteriological menageries in their mouths. I'd watch for swelling, reddening and pus, but beyond that I'd treat with antibacterial ointments. Unless a cat is rabid--highly unlikely--their diseases won't jump the species barrier to humans and it's no different than any other puncture wound....
post #23 of 28
Many years ago I was bit by a stray cat that got into my house from the skylight that was open. I was just in a night shirt and he bit me on the upper thigh area near my butt while I was trying to pick him up. To make a long story short, it became really swollen after a few days and kept getting worse. I went to the doctor and wound up being treated for pasteurella. I had to have a drain put in the wound... It was really bad.. My biggest mistake was that I didn't take care of the wound properly when it happened.
post #24 of 28
I tried to catch a wild kitten (sibling to ours) and was bit. It was only one little puncture wound but because I am allergic to several antibiotics as well as the tetanus vaccine, I headed for ER. I felt silly and embarrassed when they asked to see the puncture and I couldn't pinpoint it down but they assured me they'd seen some very nasty infections from cat bites and scratches including people who had to have long term antibiotic treatment in a pik line.

Animal bites must be reported to animal control and they did set traps and talked me through the process of observation and then what would happen afterwards. I figured they would put any animal down but because it was a provoked attack they would still consider that kitten adoptable and asked if we'd be interested in keeping it in the event it was caught and was clear.

They never caught the kitten (although some animals were getting lots of tasty treats from the trap). Then my case went to the county health department who eventually had to check with the state health department before deeming I didn't need the rabies shots. (Very young animals rarely survive rabies for any period of time apparently.)
post #25 of 28
There is more chance of getting cat scratch fever than of getting rabies. Cat scratch fever isn't just a song. In fact many people who've handled cats all their lives have had it at one point or another. You can get a fever and swollen lymph glands. In most people the symptoms go away without treatment, if your immune system is compromised or if you're pregnant you may have more problems. Sometimes these lymph glands remain semi swollen or shotty in people without other symptoms (this showed up on my mri's and the doc asked me if I have cats which I have all my life) If you have a fever after a scratch you should still talk to your dr.
post #26 of 28
I did go to the doctor, she wasnt too concerned about cat scratch fever because i had no swollen glands, as a precaution she drew blood to see if i have a low grade infection. well all is well now, i have no fever and feel like normal.
as for my little kitty she is doing great! no more diarrhea, it could have been prolonged as she was on antibiotics and they can mess up a little tummy. but anyway she's doing great and is fitting in well with my two other kitties. one big happy family. thanks for everyones help.
post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 
I'm glad you're doing better and took the precaution to go to the doctor and I'm glad your kitten is doing better as well! Since she is young, this is a good time to start her getting used to you cutting her nails so she doesn't keep scratching you! Ask your vet if you're not comfortable doing this yet, your vet can show you how to cut your kittens nails without fear of them bleeding.

For anyone else that may wander into this thread b/c they've been bitten or scratched, I found this:

Should I call my doctor if I am bitten or scratched by a cat?
Call your family doctor if you notice any of the following problems:

- A cat scratch or bite that does not heal in the usual length of time.
- An area of redness around a cat scratch or bite that continues to get bigger for more than 2 days after the injury.
- Fever that lasts for several days after a cat scratch or bite.
- Painful and swollen lymph nodes for more than 2 or 3 weeks.
- Bone or joint pain, abdominal pain (without fever, vomiting or diarrhea) or an unusual degree of tiredness for more than 2 or 3 weeks.
post #28 of 28
actually i cut her nails on her 2nd day with me, little fuss but she'll get used to it. thanks again.
on the subject of bites or scratches my doctor informes me the best thing to clean them with is good 'ol soap and water, wash thouroughly and rinse for about five minutes, then use an antibiotics ointment. preoxide, alchol and betadine kill healthy tissue as well as bacteria were soap and water only kill the bacteria.
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