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The Bite Is Worse Than The Meow

The vast majority of bites -- animal or human -- are from the jaws of a dog. The figure is about 90 percent plus. But the worst of bites may be that of the feline.

Cat bites make up smaller percentage of teeth-to-skin, but by far, make up the highest percentage of infections and complications.

A new study from the Mayo Clinic says one-in-three cat bites become infected to the point where humans on the receiving end require hospitalization.

The reason: even though dog mouths contains as many germs, and human bites contain nastier germs, cat bites do the kind of damage the others often don't.

Cat teeth are like mini-needles -- they penetrate deep and inject their germs farther into the tissue (usually a hand or wrist), where the bacteria can take off like a wildfire, leading to permanent loss of use of a hand or finger (or other body part.)

Those pointy teeth can easily penetrate a tendon, or some other important structure --and since those are deeper areas hard to cleanse, the germs quickly multiply and eat away at those structures.

That's not to say I'd rather care for a dog bite or human bite over a cat bite. I don't.

Dog bites typically tear and crush tissue, while human bites usually are more gaping (and located on the knuckles of fingers that had a run-in with punch to someone's mouth.)

They all need cleaning, and they almost all need antibiotics.

But when I see a cat bite, I really scrub them, antibiotic them, and make sure people understand that even with the best of care, the bites can get red, inflamed, and painful from infection. And sometimes a quickly as within a couple of hours.

Even though a hand might swell to the size of a boxing glove, it's the severe pain that is the sign of bad things happening.

The message: don't ignore or downplay any bite. But be especially cautious when it comes from the fangs of that sweet, cuddly, kitty cat.

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