A Misadventure

Last Thursday Jennie and gathered our cat, Nori, into her carrier and set off to the vet. Not really. In truth she was terrified as always and we had to chase her around the house to get her into the carrier. There is something about a carrier that triggers her PTSD and she becomes faster and stronger than she is usually. Finally, we were able to corner her and force her into the carrier. I left my hand in a bit to long and she bit me, hard. I washed with soap and applied a strong antibiotic.

Off we went to the vet where Nori was to have anesthesia for a teeth cleaning and an extraction. (Thus no calming meds….). Of course, once there she was quiet and dear. Relieved, and feeling more than a bit guilty, we came home.

A couple of hours later my hand began to swell. I made an appointment with our clinic’s urgent care and we set off for another meeting. By the time that meeting had concluded my hand was looking better so I cancelled my appointment at urgent care. A bit later the vet called for us to pick Nori up. She was glad to be home and we were happy to have her home. She, of course, then went into hiding.

A few hours later, as I began to make dinner, I noticed that one of the bite marks was oozing pus. Jennie took a look and springing into action, quickly prepared a couple of sandwiches and some salad. As soon as we had eaten we were off to immediate care sans an appointment. Fortunately there were few other patients so we were soon seen.

The doctor on duty looked at my hand, pronounced an infection, and told us to go to the Emergency Room if the infection worsened. Off we went to the pharmacy where I waited about twenty minutes for the antibiotic. As soon as we arrived home I took the first tablet and we fed Nori. Then we noticed that the infection had spread almost to my elbow. By now it was after 10 p. m. and we had to send out emails cancelling Friday’s meetings before we could drive in a deluge of rain to our physicians’ preferred ER which is some twenty miles away.

By the time we arrived at the ER we were soaked, or rather Jennie was soaked as she had let me off under the canopy before parking the van. The ER staff was friendly and efficient, and soon we were nestled into a treatment cubicle. A brief wait later a doctor came by, looked at my hand and ordered eight blood tests, drip antibiotics, a steroid, and an allergy medication, the meds all administered intravenously. I was discharged about 3 a.m. with instructions to return and be hospitalized should the infection worsen. Fortunately the rain had mostly stopped and we managed to arrive back home by 3:30. Finally to bed!

It turns out that cat bites are particularly toxic and while the ER treats more dog bites they apparently view cat bites as more dangerous. Cats, after all, have thin, syringe like teeth loaded with bacteria. Fortunately, by the time we awoke Friday morning the infection had diminished, although our exhaustion was little assuaged. Nori was in a snit and kept her distance for most of the next three days before abruptly becoming unusually affectionate and clingy.

Today the swelling and redness are mostly gone, although some soreness remains, and life has returned to something approaching normal. In the background lurks yet another brief visit to the vet come late October, but we have some time to problem solve that. More in the foreground is an appreciation for antibiotics and concern about the growing prevalence of antibiotic resistant organisms. We strongly suspect that without antibiotics things would have gone much more badly.

26 thoughts on “A Misadventure

  1. Yikes! Good to know (as cat owners who have always had only dogs). And glad you got medical attention in a timely fashion.

  2. What a beautiful cat, but a scary adventure. I think you are right that things could have been bad without antibiotics, etc. I had a colleague who worked under me who had a tooth pulled, didn’t feel well but didn’t seek medical help. I got a call from him one night saying he had left his class in Lansing and was driving back to Grand Rapids because he had a fever and felt horrible. He was hospitalized and a few torturous days later he died. I am so glad that you and Jennie did the right thing. When a hurricane was at my daughter’s doorstep in Texas, she took her cat and went to stay with friends in Galveston. When it was time to go home they couldn’t catch the cat (who was in a bedroom) and Sharon had to call animal control. The cat also gave them a chase but they were successful.

    1. Hi Pat. Yes, although we like to think infections are routine, they are not. How sad about your friend, although I can readily understand his reticence to seek early medical attention. Had I not read up on cat bites I might have done the same. I become furious whenever I think about people just taring an animal away from her home and abandoning her.

      1. Just to clarify – Animal Control helped catch the cat so the cat could be taken back to their home after the hurricane.

  3. So glad to hear you’re on he mend! Poor Nori !
    must feel terribly stressed to have bitten the hand of one she clearly loves! Will she tolerate a harness and leash as an alternative to the carrier? Be well! Sending scritches to Nori

  4. I had a cat who was afraid of the carrier, was very hard to get in and would scratch and then would bite the bars and bash her face into them. For her own safety we quit the carrier and my mom started putting her in a backpack with a cinch closure. She would put her in and gently gather the closure around her neck, as loose as a collar. She was a lot more relaxed that way, it worked great!

  5. Oh my gosh…I can’t believe how quickly that infection took hold! And yes…thank goodness for antibiotics! I have always worried about resistance because I had to use them long term (I try not to think about that!) So I think some thick oven mitts are in order for the next rounding up of the kitty! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Good to catch up, Michael.

    1. Hi Lorrie, I was told that a cat bite infection can develop very quickly, and my experience was not unusual. I am also concerned about resistance and try to do my part to delay that. Still, I have had more antibiotics in the past two years than in a very long time. Oh, well. Anyway, Nori goes back to the vet next week. We have been working with her re the carrier and things seem to be improving. She is also very concerned re biting me, so perhaps we have both learned from the experience. Still, I will be very careful as she can panic.

      1. Sending good energy, Michael. I’m certain with new awareness, for all of you, it will go much more smoothly. I don’t blame Nori for being afraid…I kind of react the same way when I must go to the doctor๐Ÿ˜‰
        Be well…hopenthe infection is all cleared up. Have a great weekend!

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