National Hug Your Cat Day– please approach carefully!

Cat bites can easily become infected

Today is National Hug Your Cat day. Go ahead and hug your cat, pick your cat up, put the cat on your lap–caressing a cat has actually been known to lower stress markers and maybe even prolong life for both the human and the cat. Now who wouldn’t want a longer, happier life? It seems like a fail-proof method of achieving health and long life, unless the cat doesn’t agree or care about those medical findings and doesn’t wish to be handled. Approaching a cat that wants to be left alone is the fastest way to increase stress for both you and the cat. Cats have extremely sharp nails and sharp, powerful teeth that can cause severe harm. Getting scratched or bitten by a cat is not only painful but it is potentially dangerous. If a cat puts on a display that shows he wants to be left alone, it is best to leave him alone.

A Zen monk who always appeared happy and at peace was once asked how he meditates and the answer he would always tell everyone was “I do nothing, I just sit empty and still, that’s all I do.” Sitting still, quiet, and calm happens to also be the best way to approach a cat that wants to be left alone. Let the cat get used to your presence without feeling threatened in any way. This takes time, but patience is usually rewarded by a loving cat that doesn’t feel threatened by someone grabbing at him.

There are so many shows on the television and so many books written on cat behavior, many have great ideas and are helpful, but what has worked for me is simply sitting quietly. I let the cat get closer to me on his own, and the cat usually lets me know when I can start slowly moving and approaching. I recently used this simple approach with a cat who was particularly difficult and who had even threatened his owner a few times. The owner had actually become afraid of his own pet. After a few hours of sitting quietly and speaking calmly, the cat became comfortable enough to come closer and closer. A few days later that cat allowed me to pick him up, and even flip him over and scratch his belly. He actually welcomed and enjoyed it when I picked him up, and as I held him upside down and scratched his belly he began purring.

If patience is not your thing, it is then important to know the following: cat bites carry a tremendous amount of bacteria and can cause a difficult to treat bacterial infection. Studies have shown time and again that cat bites are more dangerous than dog bites, and more than half of cat bite victims end up having to be hospitalized. Cats have sharper teeth than dogs and the bacteria ends up getting into deeper locations that are difficult to treat. Cat bites are nothing to take lightly. If you get bitten by a cat, even if it seems like no big deal and the cat was just playing around, you should immediately wash the wound with some soap and water and seek medical attention. Let’s not forget also that a cat can scratch and cause a variety of other illnesses. If there is redness and swelling, pain, or any signs of even a mild infection going on, it is extremely important to seek medical treatment for both bites and scratches. The quicker you get treatment and get on some antibiotics, the better the prognosis will be. The longer you wait the more problems that the infection can cause. Even waiting a day or two with an infection can result in a hospitalization and even the potential need for intravenous antibiotics.

As always, if you suspect anything wrong with you or your cat it is important to see either a doctor for yourself or a veterinarian for your pet. If you have any medication related questions feel free to call one of our 1800PetMeds pharmacists who are licensed in human pharmacy and have had extensive training in veterinary pharmacy.

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