When most people think of pet and animal-related bites and injuries, they often think of dog bites first and foremost. That’s because dog bites are extremely common. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association says more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, and around 800,000 of those people seek medical attention.
However, dogs don’t account for all pet and animal-related bites and injuries. The World Health Organization says that there are around 400,000 cat bites annually in the U.S., and around 66,000 of those bites are serious enough to send victims to the hospital.
Dog bites are relatively common sources of injury lawsuits, but what about cat bites and bites caused by other pets? Can victims of those bites also sue for compensation for the cost of their medical bills?
You Can Sue a Cat or Other Animal Owner if Their Pet Bites You
Just as you can sue a dog owner if their pet bites you, you can also sue a cat owner if their pet bites you. However, the bite must be unprovoked. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, nearly 90% of cat bites are provoked.
Although unprovoked cat bites are rare, they aren’t nonexistent. Cats can bite unprovoked for many reasons, including pain, fear, anxiety, cognitive decline, and more. Some cats may also bite suddenly and without warning while playing or being petted by people. If a pet owner knows or has reason to suspect that their pet may become aggressive when interacting with other people, they have a responsibility to keep their pet away.
Cat Bites Can Cause Serious Complications
Although cats don’t have the same jaw strength and bite force as most dogs, they have long, sharp teeth, and their bites can cause serious and painful injuries. Complications of cat bites include:
- Nerve damage
- Loss of feeling or movement
- Tendon damage, especially in the hands
There’s a myth that dogs’ mouths are cleaner than humans, and the myth is often told concerning cats, too. But like dogs, cats’ mouths are full of dangerous bacteria.
When cats bite people, their long, sharp teeth can push that bacteria deep inside the skin and even into the bloodstream where it can cause severe infections. In some cases, victims have even needed to have infected tissue removed or amputated, including fingers and parts of their hands.
Cat Bites Can Also Spread Diseases
Cats can spread serious diseases through their bites, including:
This bacteria is found in the mouths of anywhere from 70% to 90% of cats. Although it usually only causes localized infections when cats bite, it can spread through the bloodstream where it can cause sepsis, infected heart valves, pneumonia, and respiratory infections.
Cat scratch disease
Also known as cat scratch fever, this condition is caused by the bacteria bartonella henselae. Around 40% of cats carry this bacteria in their mouths, and it can cause fever and enlarged lymph nodes in people who are infected. Although rare, the bacteria can also infect and damage people’s brains, eyes, hearts, and other internal organs.
Cats carry high loads of this fungal disease and can easily spread it to humans when they bite. Although it usually only causes skin irritation, it can spread to the lungs, joints, bones, or central nervous system. People who suffer from widespread sporotrichosis infection often require intravenous medication and even surgery to treat it.
Rabies is one of the most feared diseases in the world, and for good reason. It has a nearly 100% fatality rate once it has started to progress, and symptoms don’t show up in many victims for weeks or even months. Thankfully, rabies is extremely care in American domestic cats due to the widespread usage of rabies vaccines in pets.
How Should I Treat a Cat Bite?
The best way to treat a cat bite is to immediately wash it thoroughly but gently using soap and warm water. If the bite is bleeding, apply pressure using a clean towel, bandage, or cloth until it stops. Then, dry the wound and cover it with a sterile dressing.
A severe cat bite may require stiches to close the wound. You also may need antibiotic cream applied directly to the cat bite or taken systemically to reduce the risk of infection.
After suffering a cat bite, watch it and your overall health closely for signs of infection. Go to the doctor immediately if you notice the following:
- Severe swelling
- Streaks leading away from the bite
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Night sweats
Call Our Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyers
Animal attacks can be painful and shocking, especially when they’re from pets like dogs and cats owned by friends, family, or neighbors. Unfortunately, the pain and shock are often only the beginning of the suffer for victims of these types of bites.
If you or someone you love was bitten by a dog or cat owned by someone else, we want to help. Contact the legal team at Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers today for a free case review. We’ll work hard to help you get maximum compensation for all of your animal bite-related expenses, including your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You don’t deserve to have to deal with this painful and stressful situation alone and out-of-pocket just because a pet owner was negligent.