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WWYD. My daughter got bit by a neighborhood cat UPDATE


lynn
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The cat was on our front porch and dd tried to give it a treat it wasn't aggressive bite, just an accident.  It did break skin and draw blood.  We washed her finger and put neosporin on it.  Does this kind of bite need antibiotics?  Shes had all her tetanus as scheduled she's 13 now does she need a booster?  I checked with the owner and all shots are up to date?   She's a confused old gal hardly ever gets out so I don't think rabies is a concern.

Update.....cat had no shots in 10 years.  What now?

Edited by lynn
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If the owner said kitty was up to date on shots, I'd just watch it for signs of infection.  We'd all be on antibiotics constantly if got them every time a cat broke skin.  But usually it's obviously healing within the first 48 hours.  If it gets hot or swollen go in immediately.  And that really goes for any type of flesh wound. 

We've gotten consistent about following up with hydrogen peroxide on animal wounds and that seems to work well for us.

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Cat bites can be nasty. If you don't go to the doctor, keep a close watch and take her in at the first sign of infection.  (I'm assuming that it's not very deep. If it were a deep puncture, personally I'd take her it. My DD was bitten by a cat at our local shelter in December. It was nasty.)

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Who is a confused gal?  The cat or the owner?  If you can take the neighbor's word that the cat is UTD on all shots then I'd not worry.  If not, check with the vet yourself.  Your only big concern is was cat vaxxed for rabies?

I rescue a lot of cats and get bitten frequently.  Never had a problem.

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12 minutes ago, MaBelle said:

Who is a confused gal?  The cat or the owner?  If you can take the neighbor's word that the cat is UTD on all shots then I'd not worry.  If not, check with the vet yourself.  Your only big concern is was cat vaxxed for rabies?

I rescue a lot of cats and get bitten frequently.  Never had a problem.

LOL.  The cat's owner said that her cat was an  confused old gal.   

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Personally, I'd treat it like you did but keep a very close eye on it. Cat bites can be super germy so any unusual redness or whatever, I'd call the nurse line. But we tend to lean towards wait-and-see for most things (especially for older kids/adults).

Edited by alisoncooks
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For an adult I'd wait and see.  For a child I might take to the doctor immediately, it depends on their personality.  Older and assertive not, younger and meek, absolutely.  I've seen meek children let things get to the hospitalization stage before complaining.  Well, that and as a foster parent doctor visits are free but take the time, explaining why you didn't take them to the doctor is a huge production that takes much longer than an hour or two at urgent care.

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I would want to know that the cat was definitely up to date on rabies vax. I might even want written proof or something, confirm with vet. But then I would just wash the bite really well with soap and water and keep a close eye on it for signs of infection.

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My boss's wife had a cat bite her in the leg.  They almost had to remove her leg.  She thought that it was no big deal at first but infection set in fast.  She ended up in the hospital for a week, IV of antibiotics, etc.  Please keep a very close eye on the bite.  

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In my experience, blood helps wash out the wound.  When one of us gets bitten by a cat that we know has up-to-date rabies vaccination, we make sure the wound bleeds, wash it well, treat with neosporin, and cover, then check it twice daily for infection.  Usually, it heals quickly.  It's normal for the wound itself to be red as it heals.  However, if there is any redness beyond just a slight bit around the wound, that indicates infection, which should be watched very carefully; if it spreads further, it may require medical attention.  You can draw along the edge with a pen to help you remember where it was earlier.  Red streaks leading away from the wound are very serious and require immediate medical attention.  

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Clean it well and keep an eye on it.  I was bitten by my own cat on a finger tip (terrified kitty who had been skunk sprayed in the eyes) and ended up on antibiotics.  The infection came quickly, like 12 hours later it was really red and swelling......Kitty recovered well too.

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I had 'Cat Scratch Fever'-- it is a very REAL thing!

We picked up a new kitty from a shelter (so vaxed).  I took him into the house for the first time-- our big dogs were outside.  I asked my dds to keep the door closed-- but too late-- my middle dd-- then 8 yrs old-- opened the door and the dogs ran in-- straight for me.    Cat climbed ME as I was the tallest thing around.  He scratched my neck and face-- drew a bit of blood.

Within MINUTES I had a fever and my jaw started swelling-- I could feel the heat!  I was in my Dr's office 15 minutes later (luckily it was down the street and open!) -- I was given a shot and was on antibiotics for several weeks-- I narrowly missed out on an ambulance ride.

Said cat and dogs became great friends and lived happily ever after (seriously BFFs!).  I still have a scar on my jaw...

 

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Once it was determined that the cat was utd on shots, I'd just keep an eye on things and go in if there were signs of infection.

On a related note, I wonder why it is that cat bites seem to be so serious in some cases and not in others? I have four cats, and I've had several more over the years. I've been bitten and clawed more times than I could count, between cats getting too wound up playing, having to apply claw caps and flea medication and give the occasional bath, and having to separate cats having a spat, and I've never once gotten an infection. Maybe if you have cats you build up a resistance to their bacteria somehow? Two of my cats go outside during the summer, too, so it's not that they're only indoors. Though they pretty much just go out and lay in the grass, lol.

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Wash well, check twice daily,  and at first sign of anything , go in .  Cat bites either go away or go bad.  There doesn't seem to be a middle ground. Though as nurse, I have only treated a few cat scratch fever cases and they do seem to go bad very very quickly, like went to bed with a scratch on the finger and woke up in the middle of the night with severe swelling, heat and dark redness over the entire hand and arm. Cat bites are so strange and unpredictable. 

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Just read the update.....Going to post to bump.  I want someone other than Dh to agree with me!

No shots in 10 years........obviously the cat goes outdoors so potentially exposed to rabies.   I know rabies vacinations are supposed to normally actually good for roughly 3 years (I think that is the number)  but are given annually to be safe due to the percentages but that cat is way overdue.

 I would seek medical treatment.  I don’t think you have a choice.

I think that cat needs to be isolated/caged now.   You need to know where it is for sure.  No I’ll keep it in the house...... I honestly doubt there is anything wrong with it but you need to be cautious.

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2 minutes ago, mumto2 said:

Just read the update.....Going to post to bump.  I want someone other than Dh to agree with me!

No shots in 10 years........obviously the cat goes outdoors so potentially exposed to rabies.   I know rabies vacinations are supposed to normally actually good for roughly 3 years (I think that is the number)  but are given annually to be safe due to the percentages but that cat is way overdue.

 I would seek medical treatment.  I don’t think you have a choice.

I think that cat needs to be isolated/caged now.   You need to know where it is for sure.  No I’ll keep it in the house...... I honestly doubt there is anything wrong with it but you need to be cautious.

I brought dd to pediatrician.  She gave antibiotics.  I did not have have the info on the cat until a little while ago.  I needed my dd to verify it was the same cat as pictures my neighbor sent.  Unique looking cat so positive it is my neighbors..

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A vet or animal control needs to keep track of the cat.  I’m actually basing this on dog bite experience, but basically the animal gets quarantined to make sure it doesn’t have rabies. If they think it has rabies then the child has to get rabies shots.  But usually pet animals in USA , assuming that’s where you are, don’t have rabies.  

Still someone competent needs to examine it ASAP and make sure it seems normal now.  

I would be calling both animal control and a vet, immediately. 

The cat should be contained indoors at its own home until it can be examined.  And then possibly at home, vet, or animal control for the quarantine period.

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Also contact a doctor.  Emergency room may know statistical rate of rabies in cats in your area.  When my son got bit by an unvaccinated dog, learning that statistically the dog who bit him was very unlikely to have rabies was reassuring.  I hope that will turn out to be the case for cats in your area.

However, I learned that in our area cats are more often rabid than dogs. Though since rabies vaccination rate is high still not very often.  But they can get it from wildlife if they hunt or tussle with a rabid animal, and do that more than most dogs.  

 

Beyond that, there are the other illnesses or infections that can come from cat bites that people have already mentioned.  

Edited by Pen
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Just to put things in perspective, from Alley Cat Allies:

"There has not been a single case of a human contracting rabies from a cat in the past 40 years in the U.S...there were only 31 confirmed cases of rabies in humans in America from 2003 to June 2013. None of those cases were known to have come from cats."

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56 minutes ago, MercyA said:

Just to put things in perspective, from Alley Cat Allies:

"There has not been a single case of a human contracting rabies from a cat in the past 40 years in the U.S...there were only 31 confirmed cases of rabies in humans in America from 2003 to June 2013. None of those cases were known to have come from cats."

 

Yeah, I wouldn't be terribly worried about rabies unless I happened to live in an area with an unusually high number of cases. The odds of getting rabies from a cat are as close to zero as it's possible to be without actually being zero. I'd ask my neighbor to let me know if the cat started acting weird, but I wouldn't demand quarantine procedures or anything. 

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I've been scratched and bitten so many times by cats and never had issues other than the one time when it was a really deep bite when I was about 16. I have a hand full of scars from that experience. My mum was not interested and didn't take me to the Dr (she was pretty neglectful when it came to health stuff) and was bleeding badly and got very infected. These days I don't bother doing anything much with small superficial scratches/nips other than clean them fastidiously but a proper deep bite I'd get checked out asap. 

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9 hours ago, Mergath said:

Once it was determined that the cat was utd on shots, I'd just keep an eye on things and go in if there were signs of infection.

On a related note, I wonder why it is that cat bites seem to be so serious in some cases and not in others? I have four cats, and I've had several more over the years. I've been bitten and clawed more times than I could count, between cats getting too wound up playing, having to apply claw caps and flea medication and give the occasional bath, and having to separate cats having a spat, and I've never once gotten an infection. Maybe if you have cats you build up a resistance to their bacteria somehow? Two of my cats go outside during the summer, too, so it's not that they're only indoors. Though they pretty much just go out and lay in the grass, lol.

I think you can be immune to toxoplasmosis.  I guess as well it’s because it’s an infection that’s the worry it depends on the amount and type of bacteria or virus or whatever that’s on the cats claws the amount that’s gets into the skin and the persons immunity so a lot of factors.  

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5 hours ago, Mergath said:

 

Yeah, I wouldn't be terribly worried about rabies unless I happened to live in an area with an unusually high number of cases. The odds of getting rabies from a cat are as close to zero as it's possible to be without actually being zero. I'd ask my neighbor to let me know if the cat started acting weird, but I wouldn't demand quarantine procedures or anything. 

 

@lynn if you choose this route, it could help to have an idea that “weird” may not be a typical image of rabies as foaming at the mouth.  

There’s a you tube video of a yellow cat with rabies to give an idea.  I’ll link if able.  

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There are probably others also.

 If you yourself saw the cat before and after your daughter was bitten it could give you and idea if the cat was normal or weird at that time.

I did see that the op indicated accidental bite, not aggression.    That’s good.

I discounted the part about cat almost never out though because I’m not sure your original understanding from owner was reliable.  As you also thought cat was up to date on all vaccinations.  

 

I also hope where you are the rabies rate is infinitesimally small.  

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Rabies isn't uncommon in the wildlife population in my area. But the chances of a pet cat--especially an older pet cat who "hardly ever gets out"--having it are probably barely above zero (see the statistic Mercy posted). But I don't know what I'd do in your shoes. I know I wouldn't worry about it, but I would want someone to keep an eye on the cat for the next couple of weeks. Is your neighbor trustworthy for that? If not I'd probably be inclined to call AC and tell the neighbor "Sorry, but I have to look after my DD." Hopefully your state allows quarantine in the home.

(It's not surprising the doc prescribed antibiotics. That's much more a CYA thing for the medical provider than necessity for the patient.)

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12 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

Rabies isn't uncommon in the wildlife population in my area. But the chances of a pet cat--especially an older pet cat who "hardly ever gets out"--having it are probably barely above zero (see the statistic Mercy posted). But I don't know what I'd do in your shoes. I know I wouldn't worry about it, but I would want someone to keep an eye on the cat for the next couple of weeks. Is your neighbor trustworthy for that? If not I'd probably be inclined to call AC and tell the neighbor "Sorry, but I have to look after my DD." Hopefully your state allows quarantine in the home.

(It's not surprising the doc prescribed antibiotics. That's much more a CYA thing for the medical provider than necessity for the patient.)

 

I agree with this.  I don’t even know what country @lynn is in.  Some have eradicated rabies.  Others have very low rates.  But some places it’s still pretty high.  In USA, there is enough vaccination and sureveillance that the rate is quite low.  Some areas, like North East it tends to be higher (still statistically low, but maybe around 200 domestic animals in a year?) While other areas such as west of the Rockies there have been almost no cats with rabies, if I understood correctly.  My state tends to run low single digits cases in domestic animals or none in each year, though there was an uptick recently in the news perhaps as people got too complacent.  

We may have encountered a rabid wild animal however, and not understood what we were seeing at the time because it didn’t fit the stereotype image in my mind.  

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11 hours ago, Mergath said:

 

On a related note, I wonder why it is that cat bites seem to be so serious in some cases and not in others? I have four cats, and I've had several more over the years. I've been bitten and clawed more times than I could count, between cats getting too wound up playing, having to apply claw caps and flea medication and give the occasional bath, and having to separate cats having a spat, and I've never once gotten an infection. Maybe if you have cats you build up a resistance to their bacteria somehow? Two of my cats go outside during the summer, too, so it's not that they're only indoors. Though they pretty much just go out and lay in the grass, lol.

At the time I was bit needing antibiotics I had always had a cat.  I was 17 and lived on a farm.  My cat was a pet but loved being outside and spent hours hunting creatures everyday.  He was by far the best hunter we ever had.  Maybe he had germs from his hunt that day.  Hunting is why we thought he was sprayed by the skunk,  new to him prey, and he was a big cat so skunks were potentially within his abilities size wise I guess.   Healthy cat, lived to 17,  always up to date on all vaccinations because he was the house cat.   I wondered if it had something to do with the skunk spray at the time,  I was bathing him and pouring canned tomatoes etc on him trying to get the spray off.   I kept bathing after the bite, it was the deepest bite I had ever received and centered sort of over a fingernail........ sort of put it down to depth and circulation in bite area.  We did clean well and bandage but probably 20 minutes after the bite.

Also this is information from my childhood but I think the cat needs to be observed for 30 days, a different wild animal bite on neighboring farm. Guidelines could have changed.  

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2 hours ago, lailasmum said:

I've been scratched and bitten so many times by cats and never had issues other than the one time when it was a really deep bite when I was about 16. I have a hand full of scars from that experience. My mum was not interested and didn't take me to the Dr (she was pretty neglectful when it came to health stuff) and was bleeding badly and got very infected. These days I don't bother doing anything much with small superficial scratches/nips other than clean them fastidiously but a proper deep bite I'd get checked out asap. 

 

You’re in UK?  I think rabies was eradicated there, and perhaps there’s less of some other potential cat vector illnesses also.  

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9 hours ago, mumto2 said:

I think that cat needs to be isolated/caged now.   You need to know where it is for sure.  No I’ll keep it in the house...... I honestly doubt there is anything wrong with it but you need to be cautious.

 

I mostly agree.  I think it would be fine for the cat to have its quarantine at home. But I think someone who can recognize rabies - animal control or vet- should see it.   

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I hate to be the alarmist....

I would call your local public health official and speak directly with them and ask their opinion.   I would call your doctor with this new info and ask their opinion.  Then I would call the local animal control (*not* humane society) and ask them about it.   Rabies is 100% fatal once symptoms occur.  If she said the cat was up to date on shots but then oops, it's been 10yrs, why would you believe her when she says the cat "hardly gets out".  

The cat should be quarantined.

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34 minutes ago, PrincessMommy said:

I hate to be the alarmist....

I would call your local public health official and speak directly with them and ask their opinion.   I would call your doctor with this new info and ask their opinion.  Then I would call the local animal control (*not* humane society) and ask them about it.   Rabies is 100% fatal once symptoms occur.  If she said the cat was up to date on shots but then oops, it's been 10yrs, why would you believe her when she says the cat "hardly gets out".  

The cat should be quarantined.

This is actually my reason for thinking the quarantine should possibly be caged.  The owner doesn’t seem to be reliable.

 

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Rabies is fatal But also so rare in pets in the US that paying thousands of dollars for rabies shots (yes, that much) can be a response that hurts the family unnecessarily. There was a thread not long ago on this board about it and how some ERs will call for it in a CYA move while Public Health (I think that was the agency) said that it was unnecessary. 

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When my son was bitten by one of our own cats, it did get infected (within hours) and we took him in, which triggered an automatic public health response (I'm in NY). We had to provide proof of his rabies vaccine while we were in the office, send a copy to the department, AND quarantine the cat (who was an inside cat) anyway!

A few years before that incident we had an over-excited kitten who scratched another son in *both* his eyes (kid was sitting inside one of those hanging tents, and the moving fabric was too much to resist), and it initiated the same chain of action after we visited urgent care. (I'll tell you: waking up at 6 AM to a blood-curdling scream from a five year old will give you some gray hairs!)

Honestly, I'm both impressed and annoyed by the response. It seemed over the top for known, vaccinated, INSIDE cats, but OTOH at least they're thorough.

So all that being said, if the doctor isn't obligated to let the health department know you were seen for a cat bite, I'd probably let them know. So far behind on shots concerns me some, even though the rabies infection risk is so low. 

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While rabies is rare overall in U.S. cats, that's not true for every region. A few years ago bil was bitten by a (probably feral) cat who did turn out to have rabies; fortunately animal control quarantined the cat and he got rabies shots. He was told rabies was a problem among feral cats in his region. So, it matters where the op is. Feral cats (or raccoons, foxes, bats, possums, ...) could tangle with a pet cat who managed to slip out of the house one night, and they could transmit rabies.

Most likely the cat is fine. But since the owner is not entirely reliable and the potential consequences are deadly, I'd report this to animal control and/or the health department. Do whatever you need to do to make sure someone other than the owner is able to monitor the cat. I'd be okay with it being quarantined at home, but I'd want a professional to make sure it was healthy at the end of the confinement period.

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2 hours ago, Zuzu822 said:

When my son was bitten by one of our own cats, it did get infected (within hours) and we took him in, which triggered an automatic public health response (I'm in NY). We had to provide proof of his rabies vaccine while we were in the office, send a copy to the department, AND quarantine the cat (who was an inside cat) anyway!

A few years before that incident we had an over-excited kitten who scratched another son in *both* his eyes (kid was sitting inside one of those hanging tents, and the moving fabric was too much to resist), and it initiated the same chain of action after we visited urgent care. (I'll tell you: waking up at 6 AM to a blood-curdling scream from a five year old will give you some gray hairs!)

Honestly, I'm both impressed and annoyed by the response. It seemed over the top for known, vaccinated, INSIDE cats, but OTOH at least they're thorough.

So all that being said, if the doctor isn't obligated to let the health department know you were seen for a cat bite, I'd probably let them know. So far behind on shots concerns me some, even though the rabies infection risk is so low. 

 

Yikes.  Scratched in eyes sounds bad.

There used to be a map of USA rabies cases Available maybe on CDC site, but I don’t see it now.  

NY and that part of country has had more rabies issues in domestic animals  than some other parts.  

I think this has included dogs imported from other countries with fake rabies vaccination certificates.  

And it may not be impossible for an indoor cat to have contact with a wild animal  that gets inside.  Though vaccinated plus  indoor animal seems to be extremely low risk.  

Edited by Pen
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Rabies in domestic animals in the United States: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/location/usa/surveillance/domestic_animals.html

"A number of rabid cats decreased by 10.3 percent from 272 in 2014 to 244 in 2015. However, the percentage of dogs and cats tested for rabies that were positive (0.3 percent) did not change compared to previous 5 years."

By county map here (though on first glance it looks difficult to read!): https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/full/10.2460/javma.250.10.1117

Edited by MercyA
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29 minutes ago, Innisfree said:

While rabies is rare overall in U.S. cats, that's not true for every region. A few years ago bil was bitten by a (probably feral) cat who did turn out to have rabies; fortunately animal control quarantined the cat and he got rabies shots. He was told rabies was a problem among feral cats in his region. So, it matters where the op is. Feral cats (or raccoons, foxes, bats, possums, ...) could tangle with a pet cat who managed to slip out of the house one night, and they could transmit rabies.

Most likely the cat is fine. But since the owner is not entirely reliable and the potential consequences are deadly, I'd report this to animal control and/or the health department. Do whatever you need to do to make sure someone other than the owner is able to monitor the cat. I'd be okay with it being quarantined at home, but I'd want a professional to make sure it was healthy at the end of the confinement period.

 

Honestly, I would most want a professional to make sure it seems healthy Now.  

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