Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When Cats Behave Badly: Dealing With Cat Bites The Natural Way

Our furry, fiercely independent, feline friends aren't always as loving and cuddly as we'd like them to be, but sometimes they can be downright evil. I experienced that this past weekend, after a friend's cat bit me.


So, why do cats bite and scratch, you ask?

a. They were somehow provoked. A tad too much roughhousing by their human, perhaps? No, not even animals like getting slapped around.

b. They were frightened, or scared by something, and your body just so happened to be in the way.

c. They were just playing, and your hand looked more interesting than their catnip mouse.

d. They're ill. Don't we all get ornery when we do?

e. Their evil alter-ego decides your arm is a deserving target.


f. All of the above.



If you marked f. you get an A.

There are many reasons a cat will scratch and bite, but you won't find many people attributing it to the Jekyll and Hyde nature of one. Most cats are lovable, and wouldn't dream of harming their humans, without provocation, that is. I had a wonderful cat for 13 years that never once bit or scratched me, or any of my friends for that matter; but I trained her, from kittenhood, that I would not tolerate aggressive behaviour. I haven't had a cat in a long while, so I enjoy any time I can spend with one. The friend I was visiting has 2 beautiful cats, although she did warn me that one of them had a proclivity to bite. She was gone for the evening, and I couldn't remember which was which, so when Hugo (the evil one) started rubbing himself against my leg, I automatically assumed he was the good kitty. At one point, Hugo jumped onto the couch and, purring softly, allowed me to pet him for a few minutes, seducing me further into thinking he was enjoying it. But then he suddenly lunged at me, sunk his teeth into my forearm (drawing blood), and then scampered off, laughing all the while at my stupidity, I'm sure.

After the initial shock, my first instinct was to wash the bite with soap and hot water, then douse it with alcohol, which, as it turns out, is exactly what one should do. Thankfully, it did not get infected, but apparently anywhere from 50 to 80% of all cat bites do get infected. I was one of those statistics, about 12 years ago, after getting bitten on my hand by a frightened cat; a long story which I will not get into. In that case, I did not think to wash the wound, as I was more concerned about the condition of the cat. The following morning my hand was severely infected.


IMMEDIATE SOLUTIONS FOR CAT BITES:

1. Stop the bleeding, if there is any, by applying pressure to the wound, with a clean, dry cloth. This could take several minutes. Do NOT, however, apply a tourniquet. This could cause damage.

2. Immediately wash the wound with soap and warm water, for approximately 5 minutes. The cat's saliva is the source for potential infection. Those little mouths are not as clean as we might think; just remember what they spend so much time licking, and no, not their fur. Some sources suggest soaking the wound in warm soapy water for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Clean the wound (if not too deep) with alcohol. Although I haven't seen this in any articles regarding cat bite first-aid, it helped keep me from having to visit the doctor.

4. Cover the wound, loosely, with a sterile gauze pad.

5. Increase your intake of Vitamin C, which helps fight infection. 4,000 to 10,000 mg per day for a week, then decrease to 3,000.



SOME HOME REMEDIES: I can't vouch for any of these, but here are some natural, albeit less orthodox treatments, for slow healing cat bites. If you have been to a doctor, the wound is not infected, and you are not in need of antibiotics you might try the following:

1. Make a poultice of fresh grated carrots and place on top of wound. Then cover with a warm, moist washcloth, and leave for 20 to 30 minutes. Apparently this will draw out the toxins and help speed healing. (I'm not sure about this one, but people have used honey on wounds, and that seems to work, so who knows.)

2. Homeopathic remedy LEDUM PALUSTRE 30C. Good for puncture wounds. Eases pain and speeds up healing. (There are no potential adverse side affects using Homeopathy, so this should be pretty harmless.)

3. Make a paste using clay and any, or all, of the following anti-bacterials: goldenseal, tea tree oil or calendula and place on wound.

4. Combine castor oil and lime juice and apply to wound.


Please do your research and make sure you are not allergic to any of the herbal products, and consult a doctor immediately, if the wound looks like it is infected or you were bitten by a feral cat (in case of rabies.

SIGNS OF INFECTION:

If there is swelling, and the wound becomes hot, red, oozes, smells foul, becomes more painful, or there seems to be a red line leading outwards from the wound, get thee to a doctor immediately.

PLEASE NOTE: Do not use herbs if you are pregnant or nursing, and check to make sure various herbs are safe for you to use.

The above solutions are taken from the following sources: homeremedies.com, homeremediesfor you.com, and revolutionhealth.com. “Prescription for Natural Healing” by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, M.D. Third edition Penguin Putnam, Inc. Copyright 2000 p. 330

Monday, August 4, 2008

Food Can Make You Very Sick- Some cautions and precautions

Food sustains and nourishes us. Without it we would literally starve to death, and yet, some foods themselves can actually make us very sick, even causing death. For those with food allergies the body itself is responsible- the person's immune system views a normally safe food as an invader and the body reacts accordingly, causing anything from a rash to anaphylaxis (which can sometimes lead to death). For those of us with Rheumatoid Arthritis (an auto-immune disorder), certain foods can trigger inflammation, and the accompanying pain. Foods in the nightshade family, like white potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers and tomatoes are potentially harmful, if eaten in excess, or eaten at all. I also have problems if I eat too much corn, another trigger for those with R.A. If I eat corn or potatoes, occasionally, I have no problems; it's when I eat these foods several days in a row that I notice an increase in achiness.

The most common allergenic foods are:

soy, eggs, wheat, cows milk, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish,

although most foods can cause an allergic reaction, even strawberries. So, those of us who know which foods cause trouble simply eliminate them from our diets, that is, if we value good health enough to make those sacrifices. It's as simple as that.

But, in other cases, the food itself is what creates havoc in our bodies, or to be more specific, the food that has become contaminated by microbes and other nasties, and there is usually no way to determine if something has become contaminated or not, until there is some major publicized outbreak. Like the recent tomato/salmonella scare, which has now turned into a jalapeno pepper scare. Foodborne illnesses can be very hazardous to our health, so it is essential to practice safe food handling at home.

Some suggestions:

FOOD SHOPPING:

**If you have a cooler, great. Place all frozen and refrigerated foods in cooler and transfer immediately to freezer and fridge as soon as you get home. Do NOT leave food in a hot car for an extended period of time.
**Choose veggies and fruits that are in good condition.
**Pick cans that are not dented, bulging or cracked.
**Cold foods should be cold, frozen foods solidly frozen.
**Choose a use-by date that you know you will use by.

STORING THAT FOOD:

**Make sure your fridge is 40 degrees F, and the freezer at 0 degrees F, bacteria can multiply rapidly in a fridge that isn't cold enough.
**Meat, fish, poultry products should be frozen if you don't plan to eat within a few days, and should be placed on a plate so the juices don't mingle with other foods.
**Eggs should always be refrigerated, and always refrigerate any foods that recommend refrigerating after opening.

PREPARING THAT FOOD:

**Always, wash, wash, wash those hands with warm soapy water before you touch any food item, and after you touch potentially bacteria-laden foods like meat, fish, poultry and eggs.
**Make sure you wash your kitchen towels often, and replace or disinfect your sponges often. They can also harbour lots of nasties.
**Keep flesh foods away from other foods. If you're a vegetarian, you don't have to worry about this, but if you're a carnivore, make sure you wash, in hot soapy water, all cutting boards, knives etc. before you start chopping that onion.
**Marinate or thaw food inside the fridge, not in the kitchen. Bacteria will start to proliferate before the meat thaws.

COOKING THAT FOOD:

**Cook, cook, cook that meat, fish, chicken and those eggs until done. No rare steaks or runny eggs, please. Especially important for pregnant women, our elders, children and anyone with immune system troubles.

SERVING THAT FOOD:

**Never re-use dishes and utensils that you used to prepare the food.

STORING THOSE LEFTOVERS:

**Don't leave any perishable leftovers unrefrigerated for more than 2 to 4 hours. You're inviting bacteria to enjoy the food as much as you did. I would refrigerate any kind of dish with mayonnaise sooner than that.
**Large amounts of food will cool and keep better if placed in smaller containers.
**Remove stuffing from turkeys etc. and store separately. Remember, warm and moist can cause bacteria.

REHEATING THOSE LEFTOVERS:

**Heat thoroughly all leftovers. Boil sauces, soups and gravies. If anything looks odd or smells odd, toss it. It's not worth getting sick over.

**

When we eat away from home, it's not so easy, but we can choose carefully the restaurants we decide to patronize. California has a wonderful system of grading, and the results are plastered on the front of every eatery. In other States, if you are concerned, you can simply ask to see their most recent inspection score. If they have nothing to hide, I'm sure they will gladly comply. You can usually tell if a place is safe to eat, although a recent outbreak of ciguatera-laden fish was found at a Whole Foods health food store in West Palm Beach, Florida, recently. One would think you'd be safe at a health food store, but apparently not.

If you do happen to get sick, and the symptoms are severe, get thee to a doctor, or emergency room, and report it to your local health department. You could be responsible for stopping an outbreak in its tracks, before it becomes a national health problem.