Most people don’t take cat bites seriously. Cats are small. They don’t bite very often, and when they do, the injuries appear minor. Cat bites don’t bleed a lot, and they don’t usually cause disfiguration.

But this doesn’t mean that cat bites are not serious injuries. A new study has found as many as one-third of cat bites are serious enough to require hospitalization.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic looked at the medical records of 193 patients who were treated for cat bites over a three-year period. Sixty-five percent were female and had an average age of 49. The victims were seen an average of 27 hours after the cat bite.

Each patient was hospitalized, treated with oral antibiotics, or not treated:

  • 36 (18 percent) were hospitalized immediately
  • 154 (80 percent) were prescribed antibiotics as outpatients
  • 21 (14 percent of those treated) were hospitalized later because the antibiotic was not effective
  • Overall, 57 (30 percent) victims were hospitalized
  • 38 hospitalized patients required surgical debridement to remove bacteria-infected tissue
  • 8 patients required more than one surgery
  • 3 (.02 percent) were not treated

Patients who were bitten on the hand were most likely to be hospitalized. The reason is that the skin on the hands is thin. When a cat bites, its needle-like teeth can push bacteria deep into the joints and muscles, increasing the risk of infection. Many of these bacteria are very common and hard to fight with ordinary antibiotics. Even a minor cat bite can become a serious injury.

The study was published in the Journal of Hand Surgery.

Who pays for a cat bite injury? It depends on the circumstances. However, it is not unusual for the owner of an aggressive cat to be responsible for medical bills resulting from a cat bite.

If you have questions about your own cat bite case, contact Hupy and Abraham at 800-800-5678. One of our personal injury attorneys will be happy to discuss your case. There’s no charge for the initial consultation.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.