13 November 2018

Cat Bites

Welcome back. If perchance you read my e-book, No More Cats, Please!, and made it to the Epilogue, you may recall my mentioning barn cats.

After too many years of tending to pets, especially cats, I was delighted to live pet-less. But how could I object when Vicki announced she’d like a pony? After all, we now live on her family’s farm, with barns, fields and, you know, farm stuff, and she grew up with horses.

Barn-kittens Mindy (front)
and Mandy outside garage.

(photo by Vicki)
Well, somehow the equine became a feline, in fact two: Mindy and Mandy. They’re barn cats! They’re only kittens. They’re so cute!

Caring for Barn Cats
These barn cats reside in the two-car garage below our apartment when they’re not gallivanting about. In a departure from my years of cat servitude, Vicki has taken full responsibility for their care. To my knowledge, she has not once invited them upstairs.

By early evening, she calls and whistles them in for the night. If she’s been away at an evening event, they may appear when they see her car returning and follow or even lead her car. It’s the leading a car that reaffirmed why I voted for no more pets.

Did I Hit a Cat?
When I returned from shopping one Friday morning and was about half-way up the long driveway to the garage, I pushed the remote, opening my garage door. From nowhere, Mindy went running in front of my car. Then, repeating one of the dumbest actions both cats exercise with Vicki, she started walking slowly into the garage.

Driving into or out of the garage, I always inch along because of the cats. This time was no exception; however, this time, when I crept into the garage, I heard a bump. I continued into the garage, turned off the ignition and rushed from the car, fearing I’d find a squashed Mindy. She wasn’t there; she wasn’t anywhere. Whew!

That evening, Vicki came inside after rounding up the cats and said that Mindy didn’t want to come; she was acting funny, hurt. I had already moved on. It didn’t strike me until the next morning--I must have hit her! Vicki wasted no time getting Mindy to the vet, who short of x-rays, judged she was sore but otherwise fine.

Mindy the grown-up
barn cat. (photo by
 After monitoring the slow-moving, non-climbing Mindy for several days, Vicki departed for a long-scheduled, 5-day hiking-camping trip with friends. Keeping her vow that I would no longer be the cat keeper, Vicki left the cats at a kennel.

Monitoring Vicki

The evening of the day Vicki returned and retrieved the cats, Mindy resisted coming in for the night. When Vicki tried to pick her up, Mindy bit her, on her index finger. (I must interject that the bite was attributed solely to Mindy’s lingering pain. Both cats are incredibly sweet and had never bitten before.)

Despite carefully washing the wound and later rubbing on a first aid antibiotic, Vicki’s finger throbbed through the night, the next day and another sleepless night. Her can’t-wait-any-longer visit to the hospital’s urgent care facility was a prelude to: 

Vicki’s bandaged finger
after cat-bite surgery.

(photo by Vicki)
Surgery later that morning, painkillers, calls to the on-call doctor about continuing pain, 10 days of an antibiotic, a deputy sheriff’s visit to inspect the cat (yes, the cats had had their shots) and to deliver forms for completion and submission, three mandatory visits to a veterinarian for a rabies check and cat confinement for 10 days.

Three weeks after being bitten, Vicki had her first session with a hand therapist, who expressed concern about the finger’s redness, swelling and lack of mobility. After a couple of days with no change, Vicki decided she’d better see the surgeon. She’s back on the antibiotic and scheduled for a finger MRI.

Wrap Up

What have we learned? If a cat bite to the hand develops swelling, redness and pain, see a doctor immediately. Dog bites are far more common, but cat bites to the hand are more likely to progress to serious infection. Cats’ sharp teeth can easily pierce a joint or membrane sheath around a tendon. If bacteria get into these sites, antibiotics may be ineffective, leaving surgery the only option.

A 2014 study by Mayo Clinic researchers examined records of patients treated for cat bites to the hand during 2009 through 2011. Of 193 patients, 30% required hospitalization for an average of about 3 days, 67% of those hospitalized required surgery and 8 needed more than one operation.

I can only repeat, no more cats, please. Thanks for stopping by.

The 2016 e-book No More Cats, Please! is available from Amazon, Smashwords and other e-book sellers. I described the book in a blog post Warren’s Pet E-Book.
Mayo Clinic study of cat bites in The Journal of Hand Surgery: www.jhandsurg.org/article/S0363-5023%2813%2901539-6/abstract
Article on Mayo Clinic study on MinnPost website: www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2014/02/cat-bites-hand-can-cause-serious-infections-mayo-study-finds

A version of this blog post appeared earlier on www.warrensnotice.com.

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