Cat Bite: Being Bitten By A Cat

Is A Cat Bite Serious?

Look at a cat's teeth.

What you see are needle sharp incisors that any vampire would be proud of.

A cat does not have the jaw clamping power of a larger animal so does not deliver crush injuries when biting.

What a cat does deliver are puncture wounds.

Never underestimate being bitten by a cat. 

A bite from a cat can be painful but the after effects may look pretty mild, it may not seem that the feline has inflicted much damage.

The small puncture wounds may appear to heal quickly and may look little cause for concern.

Don't be fooled.

Those thin sharp teeth go deep into the flesh. Bacteria from the cat's mouth is deposited in the wound and once the wound is sealed shut the bacteria can multiply rapidly. The wound needs correct treatment otherwise infection can thrive in the bloodstream with serious results.

Make no mistake about it, cat bites can be very serious.

Treating cat bites as soon as possible helps reduce the chances of infections developing. Acting swiftly and then receiving appropriate medical attention is of paramount importance in reducing the chances of serious complications.

First Aid For a Cat Bite

The basic first aid for a bite from a cat is to clean and flush the wound immediately.

A little bleeding can be a good thing as it helps to sluice out the wound, however the flow will need to be controlled so you can clean up the bite wound. Control the bleeding by applying gentle pressure to a gauze pad, or terry cloth pad, pressed over the wound.

cat with open mouthThose thin sharp teeth go deep into the flesh. Never underestimate a bite from a cat.

Whilst using an antibacterial soap would be best, any soap will do, liquid soap will get deeper into the wound.

Use the soap and warm running water to deep clean the bite wound for a minimum of five minutes.

Be sure to rinse all the soap out of the injury.

If you have Betadine solution use it to sterilize the wound or you can use a saline solution of 0.9% salt.

When the wound has been cleaned cover it with a clean and dry dressing.

If you have it apply a little antibiotic ointment before dressing.

Next, get medical treatment.

Yes, even though you have applied first aid to the wound it is imperative that you receive treatment from a health care professional.

Your doctor will want to make sure the bite wound is really clean and check for any sign of infection. Bite infections are serious and a high percentage of cat bites will become infected so you will likely be prescribed an antibiotic.

Rabies From Being Bitten By a Cat?

Yes, it is possible for a domestic cat to transmit rabies through biting. But, it would be an uncommon event in the western world.

There is the greatest risk of rabies in rural districts of Africa and Asia.

If the cat that nipped you appeared healthy it would be unlikely that it was infected with rabies.

However rabies is an acutely serious condition and chances can't be taken.

Your doctor will want to know all about the cat that bit you. Your cat? A cat that is known to you? He will want to know the cat's vaccination history.

Even if the cat is up to date with shots and seems healthy it will need to be quarantined away from both people and other animals and observed for ten days.

Should the cat display rabies symptoms during this time the cat will tested for rabies.

The person that has been bitten will begin vaccination treatment. However should the cat prove negative for rabies the treatment can be halted.

If the cat that bit you was feral or a stray, the animal control agency will need to be informed, they will search for the animal so that it can be tested.

If the cat cannot be located and captured, then you will need to start a series of shots as soon as possible.

cat showing teeth


A doctor will need to know the vaccination history of a cat bite victim. If it has been longer than five years since the last tetanus booster, the victim is at increased risk of lockjaw developing. Another booster shot may be needed. You need to see your doctor within 72 hours of the injury in order for the tetanus shot to prevent lockjaw.  If you can't get an appointment within that time, go to a hospital emergency room or urgent care center.

Why Do Cats Bite?

Domestic cats bite for many reasons. Sometimes it is out of fear or confusion, or it may be misdirected aggression. Sometimes your cat is trying to communicate something to you . . . Why Does My Cat Bite My Hand When I Stroke Her?

One of the easiest ways to get bitten by a cat is to use your hands to try and separate two Fighting Cats.

What can you get from a cat scratch? - Cat Scratch Fever.

Remember . . .

  • The after effects of being bitten by a cat may look reasonably mild, but all bites from a cat should be treated as serious.

  • Treat bites as soon as possible to reduce the risk of infections developing.

  • First aid is not enough, you must seek treatment of a cat bite from a health care professional.

This page is for informational purposes only, it is not intended as a replacement for advice from your doctor.

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