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Cat BITES!!! (Long)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Some of you may know I recently took in one of my ferals, a pregnant female I've named Juliet. I say "took in" because I did not trap her, she came into my home to eat of her own volition, and I simply closed the door behind her. I thought she was about to deliver and I wanted her to be safe. I called and scheduled an appt with my vet to get her checked.

If I approached her slowly and quietly she would let me get close enough to touch her, but not to stroke or pet her. I knew getting her into a carrier would be a challenge, but I had no idea it would turn into such an ordeal. In the process she of course became aggitated and defensive, and I sustained at least two bites and several scratches, especially to my right hand (dominant side, of course ) I did a quick rinse, applied some band-aids and we were off to the vet.

Three hours later (about 5pm), my finger was starting to swell and the first knuckle was getting stiff. I PM'd a forum friend whom I was certain had experience in this area in the hope she would have some advice on a home remedy. Her immediate reply, in bold type, was to get to an ER or doctor NOW. Not exactly what I wanted to hear since I am currently uninsured, but I trusted her advice, so I was in a quandry. I hemmed and hawed about it and rationalized, but every bit of info I found on the net only reconfirmed her warning. I even found a site that had surgery and post-op pictures of an infected bite eerily similar to mine. That scared me. I told myself if I wasn't better by morning I'd go to the Student Health Service as soon as they opened. in the interim I tried several folk remedies - epsom salts,elevating the hand, ice for the swelling, antibiotic ointment. . . in hindsight these probably did more harm than good.

I awoke at 3am and realized that my finger was now PAINfully swollen and the trip to the ER could not be avoided. Getting dressed was difficult, turning the key in the ignition was nigh impossible. I figured my hand was worth a few dollars in debt so off I went. There I received IV antibiotics (Unacin), a prescription for oral antibiotics (Augmentin), a splint to protect my now prodigious digit, and strict orders to call an orthopedist as soon as their office opened to schedule an appt with the PA to check the bite that afternoon. I was cautioned that if it was not improving by then, I may need surgery!

At 1:30 I met Kristi, the PA who had consulted with my ER doc, and found out she has four formerly stray cats, so she was very empathetic. She said the finger looked OK, and as long as the swelling and redness did not spread further I would not need surgery. She had an X-ray done to confirm there were no teeth in the bite, marked the outer edges of the inflammation and gave me their direct number to call her back in the morning.

The ER had to report the bite to Animal Control, so I will need to return their call this morning. Thankfully, since Juliet is contained at the vet's office (I opted to have her spayed), the doc did not order rabies vaccines for me, but AC will still need to follow-up the report.

I wanted to tell my story so you all would know what CAN happen with a severe cat bite. Wildcat feral or sweet-natured pet, they can both become infected VERY quickly (remember I showed signs after only 3 hours). First priority is to clean the wound thoroughly. All the sites I visited recommended soap and warm water for 10-15 minutes - this was my first mistake. Call a doctor immediately if you show any sign of infection - redness, swelling or moderate to severe pain. My second mistake.

Please send some forum magic my way that the antibiotics have begun their work and I'm past the worst of it. And again my thanks to MA for her heartfelt concern and sage advice.
post #2 of 10
Sounds like a nasty bite! Thanks for sharing your experience and I hope you finger is as right as rain soon!

Sending you lots of 'Get well finger' }}}VIBES{{{
post #3 of 10
Oh poor you - plenty of get well vibes coming your way. I hope that you get better really quickly.

I know just how difficult this is and for others I would like to reinforce your point (I know others have similar stories) - these poor kitties are so terrified, regardless of the amount of trust they have built with you. When we tried to put Adelaide in the carrier hubby was armed with a towel, one in the bottom of the carrier and a thick pair of leather gardening gloves (the ones that brambles can't penetrate) - Addie became very distressed and wrapped herself around his gloved hand and herself became a teeth and claw glove. These kitties require very careful handling and appropriate precautions to be taken.
post #4 of 10
aww that sounds very painful.
Teufel scratched my very sensitive thumb yesterday and i rinsed it and have a hand aid on it!
I hope you heal very soon
post #5 of 10
So sorry to hear your ordeal! I had a similar BAD bite about 6 yrs ago, I got antibiotics for it right away, but they didn't work. They had to switch me to a second antibiotic, which worked pretty quickly. The pain and swelling went down in a few days, and I didn't need surgery. But I do have scars on my thumb from it! And the entire thumb peeled (like after sunburn) a few weeks later, from having been so swollen.

Cats frequently have a bacterium called Pasteurella in their mouths, and this is the usual culprit that causes the infection. My advice, if you get bitten deeply, get to your family doctor right away, or you WILL be in the Emergency Room later!

Best wishes and good vibes for fast healing!!!
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all for the good vibes!! I believe the antibiotics are working: the redness has not spread any further and a dose of Tylenol is sufficient to keep the pain at bay. I know I've had a close call, and I felt compelled to share so that others could learn from my mistakes.
post #7 of 10
I had a very similar experience, and it took six months for the bite to heal properly, so I know how dangerous cat bites can be. One tip I can give, if you're planning on keeping Juliet - feed her in her carrier every day, with the door open, of course. It will make life much easier, because obviously trips to the vet's can't be avoided.
post #8 of 10
Originally Posted by RicaLynn
Thanks to all for the good vibes!! I believe the antibiotics are working: the redness has not spread any further and a dose of Tylenol is sufficient to keep the pain at bay. I know I've had a close call, and I felt compelled to share so that others could learn from my mistakes.
Thanks for the warning and glad to hear that you are mending well now. It is very good of you to take in the formerly pregnant feral mom. Hugs.
post #9 of 10
Thanks for listening! I am sorry I shouted at you, but your PM concerned me when you described your wound. I am grateful you paid attention and hope that surgery will not be needed now. Don't blame your cat from lashing out, it is common for them to do so when you are trying to put them in a carrier. Always wear long sleeves, and gloves and have the carrier standing up on end with the door open and lower them down into it. Even after my cats have been here awhile, I still respect them for what they can do to me when they are scared. Cat bites are nasty and Cat Scratch Fever is not just a song by Ted Nugent.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hissy, there is NO need to apologize!! You said what I pretty much already knew, but the reinforcement was much needed AND appreciated

And I would never blame Juliet for doing what she believed she needed to do to protect herself and her babies. Unfortunately, a lot of people who saw my splinted hand did not feel the same. I heard a lot of "well if it had been me. . ." and variations on reprisals to the kitten who was only doing what came naturally.

Juliet is now safe, healthy, no longer pregnant and on her way to becoming a socialized feral kitty, many, many months from now. I will definitely follow jcat's advice with regard to the carrier feeding - I don't want her to be afraid of it forever!!
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