When you play with your cat, it’s typical to acquire the odd scratch.
But it’s crucial to look after your wound and keep a close eye out for any complications.
While not all cat scratches are harmful, there are several situations that could make you more susceptible to certain diseases and other health problems.
Continue reading to find out some of the potential risks connected to cat scratches and whether you should seek medical assistance.
✅ Even while the occasional scratch may appear to come with the territory of cat ownership, you should always be careful to wash any cuts you could sustain while playing with your pets.
✅ It’s crucial to be aware of any suspicious symptoms and to get in touch with a doctor as soon as possible because some cases may develop into infections.
✅ There are some precautions you can take to assist minimize issues, even though it might be challenging to completely eliminate cat scratches when you have an active feline in your home.
✅ These include carrying out recommended vaccinations, avoiding feral animals, and cleaning properly.
Risk factors for cat scratching
Even while playing seemingly innocently with your feline friend, cat scratches will inevitably occur. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, kittens under a year old are significantly more prone to scratching. As your younger cat becomes accustomed to your motions, you may observe more occurrences during play and lap time cuddles.
Cat scratches can cause more than simple discomfort and short-term red or discolored marks, regardless of age. Sometimes, these wounds may pain, bleed, or even develop an infection.
Cats that are domesticated or feral may both spread some viruses and germs when they itch people. A few of the potential health issues include:
- Cat scratch disease (also called cat-scratch disease)
Home remedies for cat scratching
Always wash any cat scratches with soap and warm water first. Even if it’s your own cat, adhere to this guideline for all scratches. With a fresh towel, pat the skin in that area dry. Use a clean gauze pad to gently press on the wound if it is bleeding. Before covering with a sterile bandage, you could also apply a little over-the-counter antibiotic ointment.
Over the coming days, closely watch the scratch for signs of infection, such as:
- heightened swelling
- Pus or dripping
- streaks of color erupting from the original scrape that is red or colorful
- Flu-like symptoms include chills, headache, and fever
If you see any of the aforementioned symptoms, contact a doctor right once. If you’ve recently been bitten, scratched, or had an open wound licked by a cat that isn’t your own, you should also seek medical attention.
Eye scratches are treated
A cat may occasionally unintentionally scratch your face, notably the area around your eyes. In this case, you need to promptly rinse the afflicted eye with either saline solution or clean water. Avoid rubbing your eyes in case something is lodged in there, such as claw fragments from your cat.
Call your doctor next so they can thoroughly inspect your eye for any potential injury. If your eye scrape develops an infection, they might also recommend drugs.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, eye scrapes typically recover rapidly. But if ignored, they could lead to:
- a headache;
- Too many tears
- Sensitivity to light
- Distorted eyesight
Concerning cat scratch fever
A bacterial infection brought on by bartonella henselae is known as cat-scratch fever. Cats’ saliva may contain the bacteria. Although most cats don’t display any symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that up to 40% of cats will contain this bacterium at some point.
Cats may have initially acquired this bacteria via fleas. During catfights, cats can pass the bacteria to one another. The bacteria could then spread to people when an infected cat bites, scratches, or licks an open wound.
Cat-scratch fever symptoms
According to the CDCTrusted Source, you may experience the following symptoms within 3 to 14 days of the initial incidence if you have cat scratch fever:
- scrapes or bites that progressively swell, becoming redder or more discolored.
- aches and pains, fever, and other flu-like symptoms
- Skin rashes
- enlarged lymph nodes
- extreme weakness and exhaustion
How to treat cat scratch fever
Antibiotics and at-home wound care can be used to treat cat scratch fever to help you feel better and avoid any complications. It’s crucial to be aware that some cat-scratch fever symptoms are also present in other illnesses. This includes tetanus, which is brought on by the bacteria Clostridium tetani.
If you have any infection-related symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately so that you can receive the necessary care. Additionally, if you’ve been around a cat that has a flea infestation, your risk of acquiring cat scratch fever may be increased.
According to the CDCTrusted Source, having cat scratch fever consequences increases your risk if you’re younger than 14 or have a compromised immune system. Although uncommon, these options include:
- Brain damage
- Damage to other internal organs
- Bacillary angiomatosis, a chronic skin condition that creates elevated, scaly lesions that are red or tan in hue.
- itchy, reddened eyes as well as flu-like symptoms
Being bitten by an animal with rabies causes a dangerous viral infection to manifest. Although rabies cases in domesticated cats are uncommon in the United States, felines are the most frequently reported feline household pets.
A cat with an infection may exhibit abrupt behavioral changes, such as unexpected hostility. Other signs include paralysis, loss of muscle control, and lack of appetite. Rabid cats are more prone to bite people and spread the illness to them through their saliva. Even yet, there is still a slim chance that an infected cat will spread the disease through scratches. According to the CDC flu-like first symptoms can manifest in people up to weeks or months after they first appear.
Even if you haven’t noticed any signs, you should get emergency care if you think you may have come into contact with a rabid cat. Life-threatening consequences can be avoided with prompt treatment with rabies antibodies and immunization.
How to reduce the dangers of cat scratches
Reduce the health hazards associated with cat scratches by:
- cleaning any inadvertent cuts and tending to them throughout all kinds of interactions
- refraining from physical play, especially with kittens who are more likely to itch
- avoiding putting your face near your cat’s face when playing to prevent eye damage
- putting bandages over any open sores you have to prevent your cat from licking them
- making your cat’s environment exclusively indoors
- providing care for feral cats and other cats that aren’t yours.
- ensuring that your cat receives all necessary vaccinations, such as rabies shots.
- keeping up with your own vaccinations, such as tetanus boosters
- ensuring that your cat receives the recommended level of flea treatment from your veterinarian.