Cat Bites: The Danger They Pose, And How To Treat Them

Cat bites, even small ones, can be dangerous if they aren’t properly cared for. Cats’ teeth are so sharp that they can create deep puncture wounds fairly easily, making them a bit more dangerous than scratches. This is especially true when your cat bites in anger or fear, because she’ll bite hard. However, playful nips and love bites can be dangerous if they break skin, too.

Cat bites are puncture wounds

Some people who’ve suffered deep cat bites are hospitalized (paywall), and need their bite wounds cleaned out surgically. Others don’t necessarily need the wound cleaned that way, but still need hospitalization to treat the resulting infection. While dog bites are also very serious, dogs don’t have the needle-like teeth that give cats the ability to insert bacteria deep into your flesh like an injection. This is what makes cat bites so dangerous.

What can you do to treat cat bites at home?

If a cat bites you, the wound will probably be small and may or may not bleed a lot. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need attention. You should wash the wound under running water, but don’t scrub at it. VCA Vet Hospitals recommends also using a salt solution, made with one teaspoon of table salt with two cups of water. Try not to use harsh chemicals, like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, more than once because they can further damage the skin and hinder your body’s ability to heal the wound.

If the cat that bit you is yours, and she’s indoor-only, keep an eye on the bite, and wash it regularly under running water with soap. Keep it covered, and consider putting dabs of Neosporin on the bandage. If you notice swelling, numbness, or ongoing pain, see your doctor immediately.

If the cat was stray or feral, or your cat goes outdoors without your supervision, you should go see your doctor immediately after cleaning and covering the bite. This is because there’s a risk of rabies, along with all the other risks associated with cat bites. Your doctor might want to prescribe an oral antibiotic, and recommend that you go through the rabies series to prevent a rabies infection.

If your cat bites you regularly, what can you do to help her stop?

If you’re having a problem with your cat biting you, there are things you can do to help end it. If she bites you while playing, then be sure she has a wide variety of toys that she likes. She can bite those to her heart’s content, and you don’t get hurt. Play with her for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time, at least twice a day, so she’s expending energy on approved activities. This will help ensure she doesn’t feel like using your hands and feet (or other cats) as her toys.

You can also make sure she always has new things to explore and play with. Don’t throw boxes out, or collapse them and put them away immediately. Cats love investigating boxes, and it gives her something new to explore in a house that she’s too familiar with. Putting herbs, like dried catnip, spearmint, or even pumpkin spice, inside a paper bag and then crumpling it up can also give her something that will entertain her for awhile. Mix up the herbs you use so that they smell different to her. That’ll make her think she’s always got new toys.

Another thing you should do is get up and walk away from your cat if she does start to scratch and bite you while you’re playing with her. Teach her that behavior won’t be tolerated. Eventually, she’ll learn that she’s only to attack the toys you give her.

What if a cat bites you out of aggression?

If she’s biting out of aggression, you should call your vet and get her looked at, especially if this is new behavior for her. Aggressive biting can be a sign of pain or illness, and you’ll want to make sure that isn’t the case. If your vet can’t find anything wrong, then you might consider hiring a behaviorist to come and evaluate her. A behaviorist can help you can eliminate whatever’s frightening or angering her, and start working on helping her to feel calm, safe, and at peace again.

Why do Cats carry Things Around? (VIDEO)

Cats are silly. Cats are cute. Cats seem to love doing things that make us say, “Awwwww.” Cats carry things around in their mouths, which looks funny and makes us laugh. One thing that I’ve written about before is Chase’s penchant for carrying my hair ties around in his mouth. He also cries loudly for me, which he does, I think, because he knows I’ll come to where he is (he used to bring the hair ties right to my feet, but doesn’t do that anymore). What happens when he can’t find a hair tie, though?

It’s funny when my cats carry things around

He makes do with something else, like an old foam ball toy, or one of our hand wraps. He’s been known to carry a small, rolled up ACE bandage around like this, too. I have had so much trouble catching him on video carrying something around in his mouth, but I was recently successful. I found him at the top of the stairs with an old ball in his mouth, and he didn’t seem to want to drop it. Watch the video below:

Why do cats carry things around?

Cats carry things around like this for various reasons, which usually boil down to bringing us a gift, or finding a suitable place to hide or bury their prey. For example, one of Chase’s favorite toys is a mousie attached to a string, which is attached to a stick. It’s a homemade wand toy. He loves catching the mousie in his mouth, and then walking off with it. Where does he take it? Usually to a pair of my boots, where he then “buries” it.

Cats are only partly domesticated, but even fully domesticated, they would still be creatures of instinct. Carrying things around and looking for suitable places for them, or delivering them to the “alpha” of their home, are catering to the more wild parts of their instincts. Cats carry things around because it caters to their instincts. In short, they do it because it they’re cats.

Star Wars Cats Getting Jedi Training

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened on Dec. 18 to eager fans and rave reviews, along with pleas all over social media to not spoil the film for those of us who haven’t seen it yet. We’ve all also been dealing with all things Star Wars in commercials, as everyone has been capitalizing on the release of the long-awaited Episode VII. You probably wouldn’t have thought that cats would get much out of this, but apparently, there are cats getting Jedi training out there.

Wait, what? Cats getting Jedi training? Come on.

To be sure, the cats getting Jedi traning aren’t really, but they are getting “training” and playtime courtesy of Master Yoda, the great Jedi master himself, in this hilarious video. Yoda’s lightsaber is acting as a wand toy in this video, and the cats getting Jedi training are actually a bit bemused by it. Watch below:

What better way to celebrate Star Wars and give your cat some much needed playtime than something like this? If you think your cat would make a great Padawan, and later on, an amazing full-fledged Jedi knight, then perhaps Master Yoda is exactly who you need.

Introducing your cats to Master Yoda

Be sure to introduce your cat to Master Yoda slowly; cats, even Jedi cats, need time to get used to something new, and even more time if it’s going to move and make sounds, as Master Yoda does. The last thing you want to do if you’d like to see your cats getting Jedi training is to scare them. Don’t forget to tie something you’d find on a wand toy to his lighsaber so they have something to go after.

The toy itself is available at Amazon, and it’s battery-powered, so you can sit back and watch your cats getting Jedi training…at least until the batteries run out. Keep in mind that your cats still need your direct interaction, despite what Master Yoda can do, and this might not be the best toy to leave on while you’re not home. If you want to see your cats getting Jedi training, though, then make sure your cats get the absolute best Jedi training there is.

When Cats Amuse Themselves

Experts talk a lot about the need for interactive playtime, which is when you play with your cats using toys. Waving a wand around, or rolling a small ball across the floor, are great ways to play with your cat, and help enrich his life. However, cats amuse themselves, too, and watching cats amuse themselves is, well, amusing. It can also provide a different type of enrichment for your cat.

I have no idea about anybody reading this blog, but I love watching my cats amuse themselves. To me, it’s hilarious. They still get their interactive playtime, but all four of them are capable of finding something with which to amuse themselves. Sometimes, their antics are the best thing for me when I’m feeling low, because they’re so silly about their personal playtime that I can’t help but laugh.

Watch Chase quietly amuse himself with the little foam ball off a microphone boom below:

Cats amuse themselves because they have imagination

It’s amazing the imagination that pets have, and how easily cats amuse themselves. Linda Cole, writing on Canidae, not only swears that her cats spy on her neighbors (I’m pretty sure mine do, too), but she also says that one of her cats would take the end of a new roll of toilet paper and wind it around the house. She always managed to do that without tearing it, but since she’d wind it around the legs of tables and chairs, that must have been so much fun to clean up.

Sometimes I’ll find Kali up on top of the refrigerator when there’s a bug crawling on the kitchen light. She never jumps for it (I think she knows she can’t make it), but she’ll sit there until she’s sure the bug is gone. I’ve seen her sit up there, as straight and alert as possible, for an hour before she was sure the bug was gone.

Cats will always need interactive playtime; it’s never a good idea to assume that they can always amuse themselves. But when you’re lucky enough to see cats amuse themselves, it’s a treat for both you and them.

Why do Cats Knock Stuff off of Tables?

There are memes and cartoons circulating the Internet that show cats are jerks, because they like to knock stuff off of everything. Tables, shelves, bars; you name it, some cats will knock something off of it. What’s worse is that they seem to do it for no apparent reason, other than to aggravate us. Why do cats knock stuff off of, well, anything?

Your cat isn’t a jerk. There’s a reason cats knock stuff off

Parade spoke to famous animal behaviorist, Jackson Galaxy, about certain cat behaviors. For this one, Galaxy says that it could be boredom, kind of like giving a toddler crayons and no paper. “Hello, bedroom wall mural!” is how he explained what happens when you do that. One possible reason that cats knock stuff off of furniture and shelves is because they’re bored.

In my house, especially with Kali, that often seems to be the case. Kali is a little bundle of boundless energy, and if we don’t tend to that energy, she turns into a little rascal. It’s not uncommon for her to see something, like a tube of Chapstick, a piece of fuzz, a nail file or clippers, tweezers, or any other small or medium-sized objects, and suddenly decide they’re toys.

When she has balls, or little mice, to bat around, she’s far more likely to leave our stuff alone. Her behavior bears out what Galaxy says about why cats knock stuff off of tables. So what can you do, aside from more playtime, and ensuring your cat has ample toys of her own with which to play?

In addition to plenty of toys and playtime…

Cats also tend to find the outdoors fascinating, so in addition to toys, provide lots of window perches and non-toxic plants, to keep your indoor-only cat even happier. You can simply plant some cat grass and catnip in pots around your house, or you can actually create a cat garden as a refuge for your kitty. Put some toys in the cat garden, and having cats knock stuff off of tables might become less of a thing in your house.

The bottom line is, cats knock stuff off of tables because it’s in their nature to do so. It does make them seem like jerks, because they do it at random. But take heart! There are ways to address this. And if you can’t, you can always just ensure that whatever your cat knocks off won’t break.

Best Times of Day to Play with Cats

Do Big Cats Like Lasers?

You’ve probably played with your cats using a laser pointer. If they enjoy it, they’ll run after it, they’ll go in circles, they’ll jump up the wall, and they act like they’ll do anything to catch it. In a lot of ways, big cats are like our own cats. Have you ever wondered if big cats like lasers, too?

Big Cat Rescue, in Tampa, decided they wanted to find out. Watch below to see the results:

You saw that the cats closer to the size of our own furry feline friends at home were interested in the laser. Santino, a serval, really seemed to enjoy it. He tried, and tried, and tried to catch it, just like your cats might. Bailey the bobcat tried to catch it, too, as did Rambo the jungle cat (sadly, Rambo has since passed on).

One of the cougars, and one of the tigers, were both scared of it. They watched it, and then jumped away from it, possibly because they didn’t know what it was.

Most, however, just didn’t want to play. The video shows some of the leopards, other tigers, and lions, that just don’t seem to care. There’s even a caption on one of them that says, “Dude, seriously?” That’s actually how lots of these cats reacted.

Why do some big cats like lasers, but others don’t?

So why the difference? Why do some big cats like lasers, and others don’t? It’s hard to say. One possibility is that the little red dot just doesn’t provide enough stimulation for the bigger cats, which have bigger prey in the wild. However, that doesn’t explain why Canyon, a tiny sand cat, wasn’t interested (although it could have been that Canyon was shy-ish. He, too, is no longer with us).

There’s an old post on Reddit, from 2011, about this topic. The question was, “Would a lion chase a laser pointer?” A keeper at a zoo answered that they had actually tried that with their cats. Their lions didn’t respond to the laser, but their tigers did. The keeper said that their tigers reacted to the laser exactly the same as our own little kitties at home would.

So size, both of the cat and of its natural prey, doesn’t really explain why some big cats like lasers and others don’t. It’s possible it has something to do with stimulation, and it may just have to do with each cat’s individual preferences when it comes to their hunting instincts. Regardless, watching them at Big Cat Rescue is rather funny.

Why Cats Bite Ankles, and How to Handle It

Why do cats bite ankles, and how do you get them to stop? Think about it. You’re walking through your house, minding your own business, when suddenly, a quartet of needles sink themselves into your ankle. You flinch, pull away, and maybe cry out in pain, because your cat has just sprung out of nowhere and decided that your ankle made a good piece of prey. What is the deal here?

What makes cats bite ankles in the first place?

Cat Behavior Associates says that cats bite ankles because they’re moving targets at about the right size for prey. Cats’ “prey drive” is triggered when things move across the floor, and if your cat doesn’t have much in the way of other outlets, he’ll go for whatever’s available.

When cats bite ankles, it’s a form of play aggression. Your cat may engage in other forms of play aggression, too. For instance, if he likes to chase you and bite your ankles, he might also go after your fingers when you’re relaxing on the sofa. Though it can sometimes be difficult to tell, there is a real difference between play aggression and real aggression. According to the ASPCA, if your cat is playing quietly and his mouth is half open, he’s playing, and not actually angry. Angry cats growl, hiss, and spit, and their tails lash back and forth.

Of course, when cats bite ankles, or any other part of you, they can still hurt you, even though they’re playing. They don’t know what “play gently” means. If you want to stop this behavior, there are some things you need to do.

Interactive play

The first thing you should do is provide some stimulating, interactive playtime for your cat every day. The best toy, according to Cat Behavior Associates, is a fishing pole type of toy, because you can best mimic the movements of your cat’s natural prey with these. These kinds of toys also keep a distance between you and your cat’s teeth, so it helps teach him an acceptable distance.

Puzzle feeders and “hunting”

Another thing you can do is use a puzzle feeder, so he has to work for his food. Puzzle feeders give your cat progressively more difficult puzzles to solve before they’ll give him food, so he’s always engaged.

However, if you feed your cat a raw food or other diet that must be refrigerated, these might not work for you. What you can do, instead, is to divide his meals into smaller portions and hide them around the house, so he has to “hunt” for them. You can do this with treats, too.

New things to explore

The ASPCA also recommends frequently giving your cat new things to investigate. The easiest way to do that is to leave boxes out for a couple of days, instead of flattening them and tossing them or putting them away immediately. You can do the same with paper bags, and even your fabric shopping bags when you get home from the store.

Things to avoid doing

It’s wise not to let your cat play with your hands or feet at all, because he’ll learn that they’re acceptable toys. Remember, cats bite ankles because they think they’re prey. Part of getting them to stop is teaching them that you are not an acceptable piece of “prey.”

Also, avoid yelling at your cat, or worse, swatting him, when he attacks you. This can actually encourage him to play even rougher, or it may upset him and turn his play aggression into real aggression. You also don’t want to make him afraid of you. You can, however, squirt him with a water bottle or a can of compressed air (not an air horn). In this instance, you do want him to associate the deterrent with you, so he’ll leave you alone.

Ultimately, cats bite ankles when they have no other outlet for their hunting instincts. It’s your job to ensure he has a sufficiently enriched environment, and sufficient acceptable outlets, for his instincts.

Homemade Toys That This Cat Loves

This is one of Gizmo’s favorite homemade toys. It’s just a crushed paper bag with old spearmint tea bags inside. She treats the spearmint in this toy like it’s catnip, because both catnip and spearmint are part of the mint family. We’ve found that these toys are great enrichment for her, especially since she doesn’t like playing when the other cats are around.

Gizmo was 13 years old when this was taken, and now she’s 14. She still loves these homemade toys. If you’d like to try a toy like this, it’s easy. All you need are brown paper lunch bags, and dried catnip, mint, spearmint, or even pumpkin spice. You could even try valerian root, since some cats respond to that as well. These are great ways to make a variety of toys for your cat that are fun, cheap and replaceable.

Click here for a short list of plants and herbs that are safe for your cat.