Cats Are Cuddly...But Not Always
by Colleen Paige
Like our best behaved canine kids, our feline kids can exhibit behavior problems just as frequently and with sharper claws and teeth, you might forget that your dog nipped you in the past, but you will never forget a cat bite!
Cats tend to have more bacteria in their mouths and on their teeth, especially if they don’t eat dry food to scrape off plaque and tartar. Dogs often chew on items that help remove their plaque, which helps to keep their mouths cleaner. You also have the added threat of bacterial infection due to the hunting hobby of an outdoor kitty. Rats and mice are known carriers of all kinds of bacteria such as salmonellosis, leptospirosis and trichinosis.
Cat bites become infected more often because the bacteria that cats carry orally is called anaerobic, which thrives in an environment without oxygen. When a cat bites, often they claw you as well and this bacteria from its teeth and the litter box is left behind in the tissue, multiplying at an alarming rate, because the wounds are fine needle-like punctures, which seal back over quickly, leaving the bacteria in a little pocket to multiply from the heat of your body and the lack of oxygen. Dog bites on the other hand, are usually much deeper and wider, causing more bleeding than a cat bite, which helps to clean out some of the initial bacteria. Dogs also don’t claw, so with cats, you often suffer from two kinds of wounds, rather than just one.
Cat bites often occur because, unbeknownst to the human, the cat is sick or injured. Cat bites can also occur due to an indoor cat that’s being territorially taunted by an outdoor cat through a door or window. You make the mistake of reaching out to pet the cat when they’re angry or scared and bam! Cat bite. It can happen when you’re petting a strange cat that doesn’t trust you. One moment it looks as if they’re enjoying your affections and the next minute they grab your hand and sink their teeth into you. For this reason, you need to always be careful petting an unfamiliar cat. You can also get inadvertently bitten you if you try to break up a fight between two cats. Take it from me. Been there-done that. Have the scars to prove it.
Then, of course, you might have the cat that needs extra special help. These cats are inherently difficult, full of anxiety, fear and distrust, many times because they were abandoned at birth, lacking the social development necessary for the self-control they’d learn growing up in a litter with a mother to teach them proper behavior. If your cat is a repeat biter or attacker, you’ll need to hire an animal behaviorist who can help you discover why your cat behaves the way he/she does and to help you fix the problem before anything really serious happens - like a guest needing an emergency room. My unfortunate encounter left me with over 100 puncture wounds and a cast from my own cat.
The most important thing to remember is to never hit a cat that bites you. This is not only because it’s simply cruel to do so, as many cats don’t understand what they did wrong - but you may be setting yourself up for further attack. Instead, remove yourself from the animal’s presence and call your veterinarian for assistance and guidance. With a little love, patience and professional help, cat problems, even serious ones, can find resolve.