It is the beginning of the month, and therefore hubby and I begin the bi-monthly routine of capturing our two indoor cats and trimming their claws. We are well used to doing this job, but sometimes, despite our best efforts, we get scratched.
My reference book for this NaBloPoMo is “Home Remedies from a Country Doctor”. They first explain why it is important to consider animal scratches as potentially dangerous. Even if it is not a gaping wound, Tiddles’ scratch could harbour all manner of nasties. Apparently cats, and sometimes dogs and monkeys, carry something known as Cat Scratch Disease. It is essentially a bacterial infection, but if it is not caught and treated it could develop into something much worse. The other websites I have read have also suggested that you need to think about Tetanus and Rabies. Luckily, the Rabies angle is not really worrisome in the UK as we are a Rabies free nation, and even Tetanus would be a really rare complication. If you are at all worried about a wound that has not healed and you are feeling really rough, then go to the Doctor and you might need a tetanus booster.
So, how do you know if you have cat scratch disease from your beloved Fluffy? First sign is a blister at the site of the cat scratch. You might also find that the lymph glands close to the scratch site might also swell up. You will probably run a fever and you might feel rather draggy and headachy as a result. In the very, very worst infections (which are exceedingly rare) there might even be convulsions.
Blimey. I am looking at my fluffy companions in a slightly different light (but only slightly…! They are still cute and furry and purring like mad!) So, if you do get scratched, what is the best way to deal with it? Wash the wound with soap and water. If it is a deep scratch, immerse the wounded area in hot soapy water for 10-15 minutes and swish that water around to wash out any bacteria that might be lingering in the wound. If you are still not sure it is okay, then you might want to consider flushing the area with a 50/50 mix of water and hydrogen peroxide.
I would also consider putting on a salve or ointment made with Lavender and some tea tree oil. Both of these essential oils are antibiotic and antibacterial. Lavender is also known to speed healing. You might want to add a drop of each oil to some pure aloe vera gel as well. Aloe vera is absolutely fantastic for skin on all occasions, and especially if it needs to heal.
The main thing to remember is that the cat is still safe to fuss and play with. Cat scratch disease is very rarely dangerous except for people who are immuno-suppressed. Though it is always sensible to remember that Puss might be cute and purry… but by nature they are a hunter and natural born killer. I still love them though.