Pennsylvania residents who own cats or know people who own cats have the potential risk of suffering an animal bite. This can also happen if you approach an outdoor cat that you cannot identify, which is why animal experts advise against this.

Cat bites are not as frequently discussed as dog bites, but they can be just as harmful, if not more so.

How are cat bites dangerous?

Unfortunately, cat bites can be dangerous, even to the point of being lethal. Cat bites do not have the raw power behind them that dog bites do, so disfigurement is not usually as much of a risk. Whatever they lack in power, however, they make up for in bacteria. A feline’s sharp teeth can potentially puncture deep into the skin, injecting harmful bacteria into your bloodstream, fat or other soft tissue.

The bacteria from a cat’s mouth can cause infection within hours, especially if it is one of the more dangerous pathogens in some animals’ mouths. Within minutes of a bite, a person’s injury can begin to redden and swell. Within hours, it can become painful and inflamed and start to weep. If the bite transmitted a particularly dangerous bacteria, it can take a day or less for dangerous symptoms like high fever or delirium to occur.

What should you do to treat a bite?

If a pet animal bites you, you should immediately go to a doctor after washing the injury out as thoroughly as you can. Unfortunately, topical treatment is not always enough to deal with the injury due to a cat’s teeth and how deeply a bite can go. You may need antibiotics and other oral or injected treatments to stave off more serious injury.

After seeing a doctor, ensure that you follow whatever direction the medical professionals give to keep infections at bay. This may include taking medications, applying topical treatments, and changing the bandages frequently.