Cat Bite Infections Symptoms

Cat bite infections can become a serious health risk to your pet if left untreated. Knowing the clinical signs of an infection can help you get your pet the care she needs quickly.

What a Cat Bite Infection Looks Like

A cat with an infected bite will present with a variety of clinical signs, including:

  • Abscess
  • Fever
  • Appetite loss
  • Lethargy

She may also limp or lick excessively at one part of her body, depending on the location of the bite.

An abscess is created when an infection forms under the cat’s skin. The infection creates pus, which can be smelly as it drains out of the abscess. The abscess may be swollen and tender to the touch, which will cause your cat to limp or to favor a wounded paw over a healthy one. Some abscesses open on their own, while others can be opened by your cat as she grooms herself. In other cases, abscesses need to be drained by your veterinarian.

A fever can be caused by an infection in your cat’s body. Her immune system creates the fever as a defense mechanism to help fight the infection.

Appetite loss and lethargy may go together, because your cat may feel too sick to be able to eat or to take an interest in her usual activities. She may sleep more than normal or may sit quietly.

Your cat can develop an infected bite almost anywhere on her body, but the most common locations for infections to develop are the face, the legs, the paws and the base of the tail.

Why Cat Bites Cause Problems

Cat bites can transmit bacteria, including Pasteurella multocida, which is normally found in a cat’s mouth. When passed along during a bite, however, it creates a risk for infection.

Cat bites can also transmit diseases, including rabies, feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus. Ideally, your cat has been vaccinated against these diseases to protect her from developing them. She may still require testing or follow up care if your veterinarian determines she has been exposed. 

Treatment of Cat Bite Infections

Most cat bites occur during a cat fight. Ideally, your cat should be kept indoors where she is less likely to fight with strange cats, but this is not always possible. If you know your cat has been in a fight recently, check her over carefully for bite wounds. Clean any wounds you find with soap and water, or disinfect them with hydrogen peroxide.

Contact your veterinarian’s office for an examination of the bite, because many wounds can quickly become infected, even with immediate home care. If a cat bite wound does become infected, your pet may require antibiotics to clear up the infection, and she may need surgery to help it drain.