My Cat Was Bitten by Another Cat
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Cats are generally calm animals, but they are also very territorial and do not hesitate to use their claws or teeth when they feel it necessary to defend themselves, protect their property or secure their territory. Even between cats living in the same household, conflicts can occur because of differences in food, resting place, toys, and even attention. So you should know the risk of bites between cats so that you can act appropriately.
The following AnimalWised article describes what to do if your cat has been bitten by another cat, why it happens, how to treat the bite, and how to prevent it in the future.
Characteristics of a cat bite
Cat bites are especially dangerous because they are usually deep and tend to cause tissue damage.
This is because cats have long, fine, pointed teeth and the fangs are slightly curved. In addition, these teeth usually contain numerous bacteria that promote infection because they remain on the ends of the wounds. And because the bite is so deep and tight, these germs multiply very quickly due to the buildup of moisture and heat. If these germs enter the bloodstream, they can be transmitted throughout the cat's body and cause septicemia, which is often fatal.
When one cat bites another in the tail or leg, cellulitis results as the infection spreads to the surrounding tissue. In other cases, infection of the bone (osteomyelitis) or septic arthritis, an infection of the space joint, may occur. Likewise, bites between cats can transmit important diseases such as rabies, tetanus, or feline immunodeficiency virus. If your cat is bitten by a stray cat, the possibility of transmitting infectious diseases increases exponentially. Therefore, it is advisable to see a veterinarian as soon as possible to examine the wound.
Not only can cats bite other cats, they can bite you or members of your family. Continue reading this other article to learn how to train your cat not to bite.
Why does my cat bites other cats?
As we mentioned earlier, there is a high risk that your cat will be bitten by other cats, often even in the same household. Cats react quickly when their sense of security is in danger. Some behave aggressively and start a fight, others are more peaceful and withdraw from the conflict, and still others may even become ill due to stress.
The arrival of a new cat in the house causes a lot of these disputes during the time they are getting used to each other. Nearly half of the cats that live with other cats fight, growl, and scratch even during the settling-in period.
The most common reason is competition for resources, although this is not always obvious. Cats can silently compete for space in the house, for their owners' attention (jealous cats), for food, water, sandboxes, and even for the sunniest areas of the living room.
Another reason could be the missing or wrong socialization during the critical phase, i.e. between the first 2 and 7 weeks of life. Socialization of cats is the process by which we prepare them to interact with other animals and humans. When this happens, the cat is confident, lively, friendly, and self-assured. A cat that has not done this may be shy, fearful, or even aggressive. A sociable cat is a happy cat. This process of interaction is important not only for your cat and you, but also for anyone else your cat may interact with.
In other cases, the problem is that the cats have not been properly introduced to each other, although they are more or less socialized. For the acclimation phase to be successful, it is necessary to take into account certain basic behaviors in cat ethology, so that everything is as simple as possible, with the rhythm set by the cats themselves. Cats are very territorial and routine animals, so the introduction of a new cat into your home should be done with caution.
If you want to know more about how to properly introduce two cats, read this other article, where we talk about how to introduce a second cat into your household.
How to avoid fights between cats?
Cat fighting is a natural and very common behavior. One in four people who live with more than one cat say their pets fight more or less occasionally. However, this does not mean that it is not possible to stop them and that two cats can get along well. Here are some things you can do to prevent conflict between two or more cats at home:
- Stop the fight as soon as possible by making a loud noise or throwing water or a pillow to get their attention. It is important that you keep the cats separated after the fight.
- Neutering cats reduces their stress and therefore reduces fights, which are more common in male cats.
- Trimming their claws weekly helps them hurt each other less, so there are fewer reasons to start a fight.
- Cats can also become jealous of another animal that receives affection and attention from its human family. Double petting and attention, as well as offering treats when two cats are in proximity are ways to reduce fighting between them.
To prevent your cat from biting other cats when they go outside, the solution is very simple: do not let them outside without supervision. In this way, you will also prevent the spread of diseases and parasites and the risk of being run over.
For more information, see this other article, where we explain how long it takes for two cats to learn to get along and how you can speed up the process.
How to know that my cat has been bitten?
As we have already mentioned, the risk of bites between cats is very high.
If you suspect your cat has been involved in a fight, examine its fur closely for hidden bite wounds. You will often find punctures on the neck, trunk, and paws. Look closely at the fur and look for blood stains that indicate the skin has been punctured.
Puncture wounds heal very quickly, so they are often difficult to see. The most common bite sites are the head, front legs or base of the tail.
Symptoms that indicate your cat has been bitten by another cat include:
- Warmth and swelling
In more serious cases, you might also notice:
- Loss of appetite
No matter how small the wound looks, it is important to take your cat to the vet as soon as possible to have its wounds examined. Even if it is just a few punctures, the underlying muscles may have been severely damaged. If the wounds are deep enough to require stitches.
How to cure a bite in cats?
Antibiotics given within 24 hours of the bite can prevent the spread of infection and fatal sepsis. This is why it is so important to seek emergency veterinary care as soon as you see or notice that your cat has been bitten by another cat.
It is essential to trim the hair around the wound and clean it thoroughly.
Once the wound is clean, you should apply an antiseptic or disinfectant product such as chlorhexidine or povidone iodine diluted with water (1 part povidone/10 parts water). An anti-inflammatory and antibiotic ointment may be applied in addition to oral antibiotics. If the cat is in pain, pain medication should also be administered.
As a rule, these wounds should not be closed but allowed to heal in the air, with the veterinarian ordering routine cleaning and disinfection. Severe or complicated wounds may require surgery.
With timely antibiotic treatment, abscesses that cats develop after being bitten by another cat can heal within five days, while cellulitis or bone or joint infections require only a few days.
If your cat is not protected against rabies, and you do not know the status of feline leukemia virus and immunodeficiency virus, you should inform your veterinarian. These wounds can transmit these viruses and if the cat is positive for one of these retroviruses, immunosuppression can develop, delaying normal wound healing by altering the proper function of the immune system. Therefore, if you notice that your cat's wound is not healing after the bite, you should discuss this with a specialist.
Contrary to popular belief, cats are social animals that live in a community they can trust and play with. However, what can you do if your cat is having trouble socializing with other cats? Read this other article where we explain how to get cats to get along if your cat does not like other cats.
If you want to read similar articles to My Cat Was Bitten by Another Cat, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.
- Harvey, A.; Tasker, S. (Eds). (2014). Handbook of Feline Medicine . Ed. Sastre Molina, SL L´Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain.