Cat Bite Treatment Guidelines Handout

Use our comprehensive guidelines to treat cat bites effectively. Download our free Cat Bite Treatment Guidelines Handout and ensure optimal patient care.

By Telita Montales on Jul 12, 2024.


Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What prompts cats to bite people?

Cats are known for their playful yet sometimes unpredictable behavior. They may bite or scratch people for various reasons, including fear, stress, or overstimulation during play. Unlike dogs, whose bites are often more straightforward in intent, cat bites can happen swiftly and unexpectedly. Cats also bite to defend themselves if they feel threatened or cornered—even in seemingly benign situations. It's also important to remember that cats have sharp teeth designed to inflict deep puncture wounds, which can easily introduce bacteria into the bite site.

Cat Bite Treatment Guidelines Handout Template

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Cat Bite Treatment Guidelines Handout Example

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Why is it important to see a doctor after getting bit by a cat?

Seeing a doctor immediately after a cat bite is a must because of the high risk of infection. Cat bites often result in deep puncture wounds that can trap bacteria within the tissue, making infections likely and sometimes severe.

One of the most concerning infections is cat scratch disease, caused by the bacterium Bartonella henselae, which can lead to swollen lymph nodes, fever, and fatigue. Other serious infections like tetanus and rabies can also occur, especially if the biting cat's vaccination status is unknown or the cat is a stray.

Rabies is a life-threatening disease that affects the nervous system and is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. Therefore, any stray or wild animal bite should be taken seriously, and rabies shots may be necessary. Seeking prompt medical attention ensures that appropriate measures, such as wound cleaning, antibiotics, and potentially a rabies vaccine, are administered quickly to reduce the risk of severe complications.

How to treat cat bites

When cat bites occur, they often result in deep puncture wounds that can easily become infected. Whether minor cat scratches or a more serious bite, immediate and proper treatment is essential to prevent complications.

Clean the wound

The initial step in managing a cat bite is to meticulously clean the wound. Utilize warm water and mild soap to gently remove any contaminants from the site. This is crucial for infection control and facilitating proper healing.


For bleeding wounds, apply gentle pressure with a sterile cloth or bandage for several minutes. If hemostasis is not achieved or the wound is extensive, urgent medical intervention is necessary.

Infection prophylaxis

Cat bites are highly susceptible to infection due to oral bacteria. Post-cleansing, apply a broad-spectrum antibiotic ointment and cover with a sterile dressing. Monitor the wound for erythema, swelling, or purulent discharge, which are indicative of infection.

Rabies surveillance

Cat bites pose a risk for rabies transmission, a severe viral infection impacting the central nervous system. If the vaccination status of the cat is unknown or suspect, immediate medical evaluation is warranted. Clinical manifestations of rabies include pyrexia, cephalalgia, cognitive impairment, paralysis, and dysphagia.

Advanced management

Patients with immunocompromised systems or those exhibiting severe infections from cat bites may require advanced interventions, including systemic antibiotics or surgical debridement. Close monitoring for potential complications is advised.

How healthcare professionals will benefit from this handout

Healthcare professionals will find our Cat Bite Treatment Guidelines Handout indispensable for streamlining patient care. This comprehensive, easy-to-follow protocol ensures that all necessary steps are taken to effectively treat and manage cat bite wounds.

Enhanced patient education

The handout serves as an excellent educational resource, aiding patients in understanding the importance of proper wound care and the steps involved in their treatment. Clear instructions alleviate patient anxiety and enhance adherence to medical advice.

Standardized treatment protocol

A standardized treatment protocol enables healthcare professionals to deliver consistent care. It ensures that no critical steps are overlooked, thereby reducing the risk of complications and improving patient outcomes.

Time-saving resource

The handout is a time-saving tool for healthcare professionals, offering detailed guidelines that can be quickly referenced. This allows them to ensure all aspects of care are covered, enabling them to focus on other critical areas of patient care.

What should a patient do immediately after a cat bite?
What should a patient do immediately after a cat bite?

Commonly asked questions

What should a patient do immediately after a cat bite?

As a healthcare professional, you should advise patients to clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover it with a clean bandage. Emphasize the importance of seeking medical attention as soon as possible to reduce the risk of infection.

How can a patient tell if a cat bite is infected?

Instruct patients to watch for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, warmth, pus, or fever. If these symptoms occur, they should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Are cat bites more dangerous than dog bites?

Explain to patients that while both types of bites can be serious, cat bites are more likely to cause infections due to the deep puncture wounds they create, which can trap bacteria.

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