Cat bites and scratches: Proper management

Cat bites are considered as common injuries particularly among children. The treatment for a bite must be started with safety in mind always. Generally, the following steps can be carried out at home or wherever a bite occurred.

After providing care for cat bites, it is vital to consult a doctor right away to determine if further treatment is required. Remember that all types of animal bites put one at high risk for infection.



If bleeding is present, apply direct pressure and raise the affected limb.

The initial step is to secure the cat or the individual by moving one away from the other. Cat bites or scratches are likely to occur if the animal is frightened or has kittens. Treatment should not be started until the cat will not attack again.

Observe the universal precautions by wearing proper protective equipment if on hand.

Bleeding control

If bleeding is present, apply direct pressure and raise the affected limb. A tourniquet should not be used unless there is significant bleeding that could not be controlled by any measures.

In case direct pressure could not be maintained for an extended period, direct pressure can be achieved by utilizing a pressure dressing.

Once the blood flow ceases, cleanse the wound using warm water and soap. Make sure to clean within the wound and thoroughly rinse away the soap or it can trigger irritation later.

Wound care

Cat bites must be covered with a dry clean dressing. An antibiotic ointment can be applied on the site before it is covered, but this is not always needed.

Important considerations to bear in mind

Cat bites and scratches puts one at higher risk for infection. The usual signs of infection include swelling, redness, warmth and drainage of pus.

A doctor should always be consulted after caring for cat bites or scratches since some wounds require stitches. Since bites and scratches are often deep, infection is always at risk.

If the wounds occur on the hands or face, a doctor should be seen due to the potential for scarring and possible loss of function.

In case of an unidentified cat, there is the risk for carrying rabies. If the cat could not be identified or the owner was not able to provide proof of rabies vaccination, it is vital to seek medical care right away. Remember that rabies is deadly to humans if left untreated.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on cat bites and scratches is for learning purposes only. Learn to properly manage this type of animal bite by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.


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