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.


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.


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:, homeremediesfor, and “Prescription for Natural Healing” by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, M.D. Third edition Penguin Putnam, Inc. Copyright 2000 p. 330


Jen said...

My brother-in-laws father lost a finger to 'cat scratch disease'
He waited way to long before going to the doctor. This is a serious and very real thing.
And thanks for visiting my blog; come over anytime. :)

Incognito said...

Hey Jen, Wow.. i think that bites to the hand and fingers somehow are more serious. As I mentioned, the bite to my hand became very infected.. this bite to the arm was fine.