How To Treat Cat Bites

picture of tiger showing teeth

Wounds from cat bites can become infected if they aren't thoroughly cleaned. This is because a cat's saliva contains many germs which may start growing in the wound if they're not removed.

The information on this page isn't medical advice. If you have any concerns after being bitten by a cat, please seek qualified medical advice immediately.

Treatment Of Cat Bites

1) Clean the wound as thoroughly as you can

To reduce the risk of infection, the wound should be cleaned as soon as possible. Do this regardless of how small the wound appears, or how tiny the cut to the skin.

If it's a small wound, you can clean it yourself using clean water and soap. There is some controversy as to whether you should apply an antiseptic cream following this; there is some concern that antiseptics may damage skin tissue and actually impede the healing process. For further advice on this, consult your doctor.

After cleaning, cover the wound with a non-stick, sterile dressing material.

If you have any concerns about the bite or the wound, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

2) Further treatment

A doctor may:

  • Close an open wound using stitches, glue or sticky tape
  • Remove any damaged tissue
  • Prescribe a course of antibiotics
  • Give you a tetanus booster
  • Start preventative treatment for rabies, if you were bitten in a country where this disease is present

3) Antibiotics

Antibiotics are usually prescribed if the wound is large or deep. Some deep wounds may look small on the surface, but actually run deep into the tissues.

Antibiotics may also be prescribed for small wounds if:

  • The wound is on the face, hand or foot
  • Your resistance to infection is low
  • You have an artificial heart valve (and maybe if you have an artificial joint)

A Note On Wound Infection

This is the most common problem following cat bites. See a doctor immediately if the skin around the wound gets more swollen, painful, tender or inflamed. It's possible (but thankfully rare) for germs to get into the bloodstream from a wound and cause a serious infection of the blood itself. If you become unwell with a high temperature, shivers, pains or any other unusual, worrying features, seek medical advice without delay.

Click here for advice on cat scratches and cat scratch disease.

Go from cat bites page to aggressive cat behavior page

Go to Cat Behavior Explained home page