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Cat bite on the hand, bite marks persistent which do not appear to be deep. Should I worry?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2001
Answered : 14838 Questions
I'm a healthy 28 year old male with no health problems. I have been feeding a skinny stray cat at my house that is very nice and domesticated. Today though I suppose he felt threatened and bit my hand. I pulled away quickly and he did not get too deep. Still, I have two bite marks on my hand - see photo attached.

It doesn't appear that they go down very far and sort of nicked the top layer or two of skin. They definitely didn't penetrate down. Still, I know there are risks involved. Statistically should I worry? I am not up on my latest tetanus shot I don't believe.

Any information you could provide would be helpful. I don't feel like I should worry but I am a worrisome person so I appreciate your information. Thank you.
Posted Mon, 20 May 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 3 hours later
Hi, thanks for using health care magic

The fact that the bites are superficial and you have no chronic illnesses reduces the chance of any resultant infection significantly but a small risk is still present.

If you cleaned it thoroughly with anti septic or anti bacterial solution immediately after the bite this would also reduce the chances of transmission of the bacteria associated with cats.

If you have not received a tetanus shot within the last 10 years then you need to do so , this would prevent a present tetanus infection and cover you for the next 10 yrs.
You may also be advised to be immunized against rabies, this is a course of 4 injections.
When you visit your doctor for the tetanus injection and rabies immunisations, if you are not covered he or she may prescribe antibiotics to cover you, the reason for this is the increased risk of infection associated with cat bites.

Signs of impending infection would be swelling, increased warmth of your limb, redness, increasing pain , discharge from the site and fever.

As stated ealier because you are well otherwise the risk is small but cat bites are highly infectious so it would be best to seek medical attention.

I hope this helps . Feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Cat bite on the hand, bite marks persistent which do not appear to be deep. Should I worry? 29 minutes later
Thank you for your great answer Doctor.

After I was bitten, I immediately washed the wound and applied hydrogen peroxide several times. I also squeezed blood out of the wound in case there was any bacteria. But it honestly did not really bleed too much. It just barely broke the skin. It was not what I would consider a puncture wound. I had to squeeze hard to get any blood out at all.

It more seemed like a "tooth scratch" if that makes sense.

The cat also is friendly/seems healthy, etc.

Would you still advise I see a doctor? Also, what are the typical antibiotic name prescribed for such an occasion as this?

Thank you.
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 24 minutes later
Hi, augmentin is used first line unless there is a history of allergies to the medication. There are also other antibiotic options as well such as cefuroxime plus clindamycin or metronidazole.

You should still make that your immunisations are up to date especially since it is stray even if you prefer to monitor for any evidence of bacterial infection .
If you notice any of the mentioned indicators of infection you would need to seek immediate medical care.

Please feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Cat bite on the hand, bite marks persistent which do not appear to be deep. Should I worry? 7 hours later
Thank you for your great information again. I have enclosed one final picture that shows the progress as the day has progressed. The swelling around the wounds has gone down and it only hurts if I'm putting the peroxide on it.

I will monitor for any signs of infection and take immediate action. I will also take your advice and get up to date on immunizations. Thank you for that advice.

Finally - is there any chance of any infection that could be present that shows no symptoms at all? In other words, if I have infection, will I know it?

Thank you again. I will likely close the conversation after your next reply so I just want to take the opportunity to say thank you for your great information and may God bless you always.
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 4 hours later

There are certain signs and symptoms that would be present if there is an infection: the swelling will return, there would be increasing pain, there would increasing redness and warmth, fever and there may be a discharge.

If an infection is present the above would be present, there are always signs and symptoms associated with infection

God bless you as well
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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