|The ever-expanding, hummus-loving Colin|
When I was tiny, there was Winston, a black moggie with a sweet nature and an unfortunate name (Winston was a girl) and Tabitha; and then Lucy, who turned up as a tiny kitten under the chest freezer in the garage. Long and careful coaxing by Pa Blonde meant that we got home one evening to find him (nope, not a lot of luck with names) curled up on Pa’s knee in front of the fire.
Bella, the beautiful but rotund silver tabby taken in from a friend; Trigger and then Sam, both rescued from Wood Green; Maggie, a pretty but bad-tempered little minx; and Colin, the Cats’ Protection interloper.
My grandparents’ pride and joy was Polly (short for Pollyanna Tokai), a Siamese with apparently endless patience and capacity for being dressed in dolls’ clothes and pushed around in a pram when I was small. And my sister’s two, Bill and Ted, a British Shorthair and a Bengal, are both tiny, vocal and completely nuts.
I have some experience. I can tell which signs mean carry on, human, I didn’t say you could stop the worship; what’s don’t come near me; and what’s feed me the hummus I know damned well is in the fridge.
So it was a bit of a surprise to find out this Christmas that being bitten by a cat is potentially deadly.
I’m completely sure that I’ve been bitten previously in my cat-owning career. But a pretty comprehensive munch from Maggie, whose allegiance lies strictly with Ma Blonde and I should have known better than to pick her up, landed me at a walk-in clinic in Streatham on 28th December with a finger of epic proportions and a worried expression on the face of the emergency GP.
So, for the health and wellbeing of other long-term cat owners out there to whom the whole ‘deadly’ thing is news, here’s the long and short of it:
- Cat bites are really dangerous. Like, really. Their mouths are chokka full of nasties. The only creature that it’s worse to be bitten by is a human. Think about that for a moment.
- 60% of cat bites become infected. This was the bit I found truly baffling, but is trufax, apparently.
- The hand is one of the worst places to be bitten, as the arteries can quickly carry the bacteria to your major organs, causing organ failure. (!!!!!!)
- If you’re bitten in the hand, elevate it: don’t let the poison gather in a finger – it may go gangrenous which can end in amputation. (!!!!!!)
- If the bite area is at all swollen, get antibiotics into your system as soon as you can: delaying doing so can lead to a hospital trip for an intravenous session of ‘em, or surgery.
I’m still not entirely sure how I didn’t know all this before. But 48 hours spent with my hand held over my head (yes, even in public); drawing all over it in biro to track the movement of the redness and rash; and a course of antibiotics so strong that not only did I not toast in the new year with Champagne, I only recovered from their rather unpleasant side effects some two weeks later, has convinced me: don’t pick up the ones that just might kill you.