Cat bites and scratches must be taken care of properly. Since many of us interact with felines, cat bites and scratches are considered as common injuries especially among children. When it comes to this injury, it is vital to start with the safety of all involved including the victim, rescuer and if possible the cat responsible for the bite.
There are measures that must be carried out at home or wherever a bite occurred, but it is best to consult a doctor right away in order to determine if further action is required.
Always stay safe
The initial step is to secure the cat that inflicted the bite or the victim. You have to move one away from the other. In case the owner of the cat is around, ask him/her to secure the cat. If the owner is not around or the cat is a stray, transfer the individual to a safe location.
Take note that cats can bite or scratch if scared or if their kittens are threatened, thus it is best to leave them alone. Do not start any form of treatment until the possibility of another attack from the cat is dealt with.
If you are not the victim, you have to strictly observe the universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if on hand.
If there is bleeding from the cat bite or scratch, you have to apply direct pressure using a clean towel or cloth. Do not use a tourniquet unless the bleeding is severe that it could not be controlled in any other way.
Cleaning the wound
When the bleeding is under control, you have to clean the wound using warm water and soap. Make sure that you will clean inside the wound and rinse out all the soap or it can cause further irritation.
Cover the wound using a clean, dry dressing. You can apply an antibiotic ointment on the wound before it is covered. Take note that cat bites and scratches can often lead to infection. The indicative signs of infection include swelling, redness, warmth and drainage of pus.
When to consult a doctor
A doctor should be consulted if in doubt regarding cat bites and scratches. In most cases, the wound might require stitches. Since most cat bites and scratches are often deep, the risk for infection is always high. Irrespective of the severity of the bite or scratch, consulting a doctor is a wise step.
If the wound is on the hands or face, it should be carefully checked by a doctor due to the risk for scarring as well as loss of function. Stray cats are at risk for carrying rabies. Once the cat could not be identified and the owner could not provide proof on rabies vaccination, the individual must seek medical care. Remember that rabies is always fatal to humans if not treated early.