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Cat bites need to be treated like serious injuries

You probably don't think of your neighbor's tabby cat as something that's as dangerous as your neighbor's Doberman -- but that little ball of fluff and teeth is more dangerous than it looks.

Unless you've been bitten by a cat, it's hard to realize the damage that one hard, well-placed bite can do. Many victims are bitten on the hand -- just as they reach out to pet what they think surely must be a friendly feline.

A cat's sharp fangs are designed to pierce the skin of its prey (in this case, you) automatically -- and even a mild cat bite can go fairly deep. Unfortunately, those deep puncture wounds are exactly what makes a cat's bite so dangerous.

The cat's fangs push any bacteria that is either in the cat's mouth or laying on your skin into your hand, deep into the tendons and joints. The bacteria is also going to get into your blood stream.

In other words, no matter how mild the cat bite seems at first, don't wait -- seek medical attention immediately.

If you're still not convinced that a simple cat bite can be that serious, consider these facts learned from a study at the Mayo Clinic:

-- Thirty percent of victims with cat bites on their hands have to be hospitalized -- and their average stay is over three days.

-- Sixty-seven percent of those hospitalized require surgery to clean and flush the wound in order to try to get the bacteria out of the muscles and joints so the antibiotics can take effect. Some patients will have to have the procedure done more than once.

-- The Mayo Clinic recommends an urgent consult with a hand surgeon, especially if the bite is anywhere near a joint or tendon.

Even if your injury seems fine now, it can quickly begin to redden, swell and become increasingly painful -- and by that point, you've allowed the infection to take control, making it far harder to recover easily.

In Ohio, animal owners are held responsible for the unprovoked attacks of their pets -- even if the animal has never shown signs of being aggressive before. Consider making an appointment with an attorney to discuss your case. For more information about how our firm approaches animal bite cases, please visit our page.

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