Cats are generally really nice pets and so when they bite there is a lot of surprise. Cat bites are not necessarily innocuous. Infections from cat bites are common, with many patients bitten in the hand hospitalized, reported Mayo Clinic on Feb. 5, 2014. Cats really do sometimes bite the hands that feed them.
When cats strike a hand with their sharp teeth they can inject bacteria deep into joints and tissue, which are perfect breeding grounds for infection. In fact in a recent study thirty percent of patients with cat bites to the hand were hospitalized, reports the Journal of Hand Surgery. The researchers concluded that cat bite injuries to the hand can progress to serious infection. When such serious infections occur the treatment often requires hospitalization, intravenous antibiotic therapy, and operative treatment.
The reason a cats bite can be so serious is because the cats’ teeth are sharp and they can penetrate very deeply. This can result in the seeding of bacteria in the joint and tendon sheaths. Even a pinpoint bite mark can cause a real problem, because the bacteria can get into the tendon sheath or into the joint where they can grow with relative protection from the blood and immune system.
Senior author Brian Carlsen, M.D., a Mayo Clinic plastic surgeon and orthopedic hand surgeon, says physicians and victims of cat bites to the hand must take the wounds seriously and take time to carefully evaluate them. So, if you are bitten by a cat, even if the bite is very small, it would be a good idea to seek out medical attention if there appears to be any problems at all associated with the bite. It is important to treat infections as soon as possible.