Injury Law Blog

Hand injury due to cat bites

As some California pet owners may know, animal bites account for about 2 percent of emergency room visits in U.S. hospitals. While most of the animal bites are from dogs, 10 to 15 percent are cat bites. According to information from the Mayo Clinic, cat bites are serious and hospitalization may be required.

When a cat bites a human, the result resembles a puncture wound due to the sharp teeth and the person’s wrist and hand areas are involved in 85 percent of such bites. Complications such as infection often ensue due to the anatomy of the area. The tendons and joints, particularly in the hand, are close to one another, making an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. Since cats harbor bacteria in their mouths, infections from cat bites to the hand occur frequently.

A study done by the Mayo Clini and published in a medical journal reviewed 193 patients who presented with cat bites to the hands from 2009 through 2011. Fifty seven were hospitalized, some immediately and some after being sent home and returning. The 36 individuals hospitalized immediately were placed on intravenous antibiotics, while the remaining 21 were initially placed on oral antibiotics and released but returned after this treatment failed. Twenty six of those immediately hospitalized required subsequent reparative surgery due to a hand injury while 12 of those released later had surgery. In several cases, multiple surgeries were needed to correct damage to the hand.

An animal bite might result in serious infection as well as require surgery. Such treatment may be costly, and the individual might be unable to work during this period. Consulting an attorney if serious injuries occur due to an owner’s negligence may be appropriate.