Saturday, 1 February 2014

In which I make a public service announcement and my mother's cat nearly kills me


The ever-expanding, hummus-loving Colin
Family Blonde has owned cats since before I can remember.

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.

3 comments:

Alicia Foodycat said...

To be honest, it's a moderately recent discovery for me too. When I was in my late 20s a bite from a beautiful but unbalanced animal just before I drove to visit a doctor friend led to him giving me dire warnings and smothering it with antiseptic cream, which I never would have bothered with otherwise. Fortunately I didn't get infected.

Marcheline said...

Come on, Ted Nugent had a hit song about that AGES ago! 8-)

Sylvia Warren said...

Daddy got bitten by our usually lovely cat (the big ginger had managed to get his paw stuck in a fence and couldn't get out), and the bite rapidly turned septic. You could see the infection spread up his arm in big red streaks - really quite scary.

Other than that, the cat may or may not cause hypothermia for me because he insists on stealing my tights, socks and slippers and using them as cuddle-blankets.

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