Cat Bites Treatment
Treatment for a cat bite requires careful wound care. Because cat teeth a very sharp and thin, dirt and saliva can be introduced deep into the wound. Wounds must be rinsed and cleaned completely. Most minor cat bites heal within 2 weeks. Depending on the severity and location of the bite, a person with a cat bite may require antibiotics, or surgery to repair damaged tissue. In some circumstances, tetanus or rabies vaccinations are needed.
Treatment for cat bites may include:
Cat Bites Rabies
Cats that have not received rabies vaccinations are at risk for rabies. Most domestic cats have been vaccinated. If the cat has not been vaccinated, rabies may be safely excluded if the cat remains healthy for 10 days after the bite occurs. The observation period is usually performed by animal control personnel.
If there is any concern about rabies exposure, rabies vaccines are necessary within 72 hours after a bite.
Cat Bites Specialist
Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat cat bites:
Cat Bites Tetanus
Cat bites rarely cause tetanus. Most children born in the US have received three tetanus shots (boosters) in the past, because these boosters are part of the usual vaccination schedule. Additional tetanus boosters are given every 10 years.
Those who require treatment to prevent tetanus include:
- Those who have not had 3 tetanus boosters in the past need a tetanus booster after a skin wound.
- Those who have not received a tetanus booster in the past 10 years need a tetanus booster after a skin wound.
- Those who have dirty wounds need a tetanus booster if they have not received a booster in the past 5 years.
Dirty wounds include:
- Wounds that occur outdoors
- Wounds that contain dirt or foreign material
- Wounds caused by bites
- Tetanus booster:
- A tetanus booster stimulates the immune system to make antibodies against the tetanus toxin.
- A tetanus booster may be given to those who have received 3 tetanus boosters in the past.
- The tetanus booster may be given within 72 hours after the wound occurs.
- Tetanus Immune Globulin (TIG):
Tetanus Vaccine and TIG Recommendations
|History||Clean, Minor Wound||Other Wounds|
|< 3 boosters||give Td||give Td + TIG|
|3 boosters||possible Td||possible Td|
Clean and minor wounds may need a booster if it has been more than 10 years since the last tetanus vaccine. Other wounds may need a booster if it has been more than 5 years since last tetanus vaccine.
Continue to Cat Bites Home Care
- Brook I. Management of human and animal bite wounds: an overview. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2005 May;18(4):197-203. 
- Brook I. Microbiology and management of human and animal bite wound infections. Prim Care. 2003 Mar;30(1):25-39, v. 
- Correira K. Managing dog, cat, and human bite wounds. JAAPA. 2003 Apr;16(4):28-32, 34, 37. 
- Talan DA, Citron DM, Abrahamian FM, Moran GJ, Goldstein EJ. Bacteriologic analysis of infected dog and cat bites. Emergency Medicine Animal Bite Infection Study Group. N Engl J Med. 1999 Jan 14;340(2):85-92. 
- Wolff KD. Management of animal bite injuries of the face: experience with 94 patients. J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 1998 Jul;56(7):838-43.