Many years ago – well, forty to be exact – I started a new job as an executive secretary with my left thumb wrapped in a huge bandage placed there by a doctor in the hospital emergency room. Luckily, in typing left thumbs are more or less useless, so it didn’t impede my ability to type. But of course everyone who was introduced to me asked what had happen and I had to tell them that my cat, Wildie, had bitten me.
As any of you who have cats know, they do not bite you unless you are doing something to them that they don’t like. This cat thought that I was going to take away its pork chop (I was, but that’s another story) and she didn’t like it one bit. Hence, the bite. At the time I didn’t know that cat bites can be very dangerous. A vet told me that a cat bite is like getting an injection of bacteria!
I didn’t know this back then, but when my thumb began swelling after my own ministrations failed, and wanting to show up at my new job with ten useable digits, I asked for and received good ER care.
Many years later – twenty, to be exact – Jerry received what we thought of as a minor cat bite on his forearm. Again, it was our own cat, Gloria Darling, that did it and we thought we doctored it appropriately. On day number two, Jerry was ready to walk out the door to his part-time job at Nurseryland and I noticed red swollen area between his elbow and his armpit. It looked awful! I all but forced him to go to the ER, and the triage nurse almost knocked other patients aside in getting Jerry to the front of the line. It was only when Jerry agreed to NOT to go work and to spend the next 48 hours with his arm over his head that they treated him and sent him home. Had he not agreed, the doctor was going to hospitalize him. He had developed a bad case of cellulitis from the bite.
The last cat bite inflicted on one of us was from a strange episode. I was dressed for work. Our cat, Tigger, was sitting in front of a closed sliding glass door. He was carrying on something fierce, yowling and hissing. I walked over to see what was going on, and on the other side of that door was a neighbor’s big cat, sitting there with a proprietary look and challenging poor Tigger’s domain. This cat was a real pest. Tigger was not allowed outside, and this cat not only taunted Tig any time he could but he also made a habit of spraying on the outside of all the doors leading out of our house. I didn’t like that cat any more than Tigger did.I needed to leave for work via that door, so to get the outside cat out of the way, I stomped my foot as hard as I could and yelled “SCAT!!!!” Although the neighbor’s cat disappeared, my stomping scared the daylights out of Tigger. As if in a slow motion movie I saw Tigger start to swirl around, open his mouth and come down with his “fangs” – upper and lower – right across the top of my instep. As it was happening all I could utter was “Oh……Tiggs!” He got me bad.
I couldn’t be mad at him; it just wasn’t his fault. I caused it to happen. I ran into the bathroom, poured alcohol in the puncture wounds, squirted antibiotic lotion on them, slapped a bandage across my foot and headed out the door to work.An hour later I was limping. By mid-morning my foot was throbbing. I saw the handwriting on the wall. Urgent Care departments were just being started and I called my clinic to talk to a nurse, which was the first step. I told the woman I needed to be seen by a doctor for a cat bite; she told me I DIDN’T need to see the doctor but to sit with my foot in a pail of Epsom salts and it would take care of itself. I told her that was not adequate, that I had seen a cat bite turn into cellulitis before my eyes and I wanted to see a doctor now. She retorted, “I guess you didn’t hear me. Sit with your foot in a pail of Epsom salts and it would take care of itself.”
I am not prone to throwing fits, but I threw a good one. She finally told me to come in at 1 p.m. By that time I could barely walk. My shoe no longer fit on my food. When I arrived I immediately took off my sock so the first person looking at the bite would see that this was an urgent matter! That worked! I spent the afternoon at the hospital with doctors and nurses hovering around me. Luckily it did not turn into cellulitis and ultimately I walked normally again. That nurse who gave me such inadequate help over the phone should have been fired.
We still have a cat and probably always will. We are careful, however, not to put ourselves in situations where a cat-bite might be expected. And should a cat-bite happen, we know where to go.
And we wouldn’t think of taking a cat’s pork chop away from her ever again!