Infected Cat Bite Caution

This is a cautionary tale about an infected cat bite.

How Not to Say “I Told You So”

I’ll preempt this by saying that I’m terrible at saying “I told you so” without coming across as a Know-it-all.  This is definitely a “what not to do” situation.  My fifty plus years of life have not made me any better at it.

As a background to the tale, I’ve been a nurse for about 35 years.  Family members often come to me for health advice, and I will tell them straight up what I think they should do.  My mantra is don’t ignore symptoms, don’t put your head in the sand, seek medical advice early because it is easier to treat illness early rather than when you develop complications.

I am happy and grateful that my sons do take my advice, especially my older son.  They could never pull the wool over my eyes when they were younger as I could always tell when they were faking symptoms to get out of school.  My sons are proactive with their health and really compassionate with other people when they are sick.  They would have made awesome nurses except for their blood and needle phobias.

My husband remains stubborn however.  We’ve been together almost ten years so he had forty plus years without my knowledge to guide him.  This has been frustrating over the years because he’s a workaholic and will not take a sick day even when he should.

Cat Bites Can Lead to Nasty Infections

A couple of weeks ago he got a nasty bite from our cat on his thumb.  She’s 19 years old and only weighs about 3 kg but she’s as feisty as a young cat.  Phil was trimming her nails and, because she’s deaf and blind she panicked and chomped down on his thumb.  The two teeth marks were deep and bled profusely.

I told him that cat bites often become infected because they’re deep and transfer bacteria from the cat’s mouth deep into the wound.  I regaled tales of patients I have cared for that were in hospital for days on intravenous antibiotics after cat bites.  My advice was to go to his doctor and start antibiotics as soon as possible, and have a tetanus vaccination as well.

Infected Cat Bite Wounds Should Never Be Ignored

Phil did not take my advice.  The following day was a Monday – he went to work.  I looked at the wound that evening and it was purple and looked nasty.  I reiterated that he needed antibiotics.  He again ignored my advice.

The following day was Australia Day, a public holiday.  He would have gone to work as usual, so it is just as well he didn’t.  His wound looked really nasty.  A pustule had formed at the puncture site. The surrounding area was purple and his thumb joints were swollen and he had difficulty bending them.  It was obviously infected.

Infected cat bite wound on a thumb
The infected cat bite on my husband’s thumb. This was after the staff at the hospital had cleaned the wound, but before he had been to surgery

To the Hospital Emergency Department He Goes

We phoned all the GP clinics on the after hours list and none of them were open.  We were due to spend Australia Day with his family so I went there while Phil went to the hospital emergency department.  Over the next few hours he had an XRay, was given a tetanus shot and was commenced on intravenous antibiotics.  

As the wound had gone close to tendons and bone the doctors decided it could not be cleaned enough without surgery.  Cat bites on the hand can lead to nasty infections that can affect your body systemically.  They should never be ignored.

My husband ended up staying overnight in hospital, having surgery to open up and clean out the wound, followed by oral antibiotics and two weeks off work.  This is my “I told you so” moment.  I find it difficult to be patient and calm with him because it’s so frustrating to know that this situation could have been avoided if he’d listened to me.

My husband in hospital.  His infected cat bite wound on his thumb required intravenous antibiotics, cleaning out under anaesthetic and a course of oral antibiotics.  The bandage had to remain intact for two weeks.

My husband in hospital. His infected cat bite wound on his thumb required intravenous antibiotics, cleaning out under anaesthetic and a course of oral antibiotics. The bandage had to remain intact for two weeks.

His Dressings Need to Be Kept Dry and Intact For Two Weeks

Even more frustrating is the fact that he still thinks it’s overkill to make him have two weeks off!  There is no way he could work and avoid getting dirt and muck into his wound.  I have banned him from cleaning the cat litter trays, picking up dog poo, doing any gardening or any other dirty jobs around the house.  This has taken considerable effort because he’s so bloody stubborn!  I feel like I have a child who won’t listen!

Now if that doesn’t take the romance out of a relationship I don’t know what will.  I spend more time keeping an eye on him to make sure he doesn’t do anything he should do, than being productive myself.  He is not good at finding things to do to occupy his time so he’s been driving me nuts.  I hate being a nagging wife.

How Do You Occupy a Bored Husband?

I would love to know if any of my readers have any ideas for keeping a bored husband occupied.  Most of all, how do I say “I told you so” without completely losing my cool?!

Note:  I love my husband dearly and our relationship is strong.  This is very much tongue-in-cheek and meant to amuse my readers as I’m sure some of you have had similar stories to this.

Post cat bite infection.  Two weeks after the wound was cleaned up in hospital.  The wound on the thumb has two sutures
The Great Reveal! After the bandages were removed. There were two sutures which were removed and he has been given the all clear to return to work.

The Outcome of The Infected Cat Bite

Update – After two weeks convalescence at home, Phil was given the all-clear to resume work.  The post-op appointment at the hospital went well.  He had two sutures which were removed and now has full use of his hand again.  Our marriage survived intact!

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy:

Shared on Weekend Coffee Share, a Linkup by Natalie the Explorer, Life This Week, a Linkup by Denyse Whelan and #150 Senior Salon Linkup on Esme Salon’s blog


20 responses to “Infected Cat Bite Caution”

  1. Christina, I’m glad your husband is back to have full use of his hand, and your marriage survived intact! Infection needs to be taken seriously because once it gets into our blood stream, it can spread quickly and causes all kinds of preventable problems. I hope your husband learned from this experience even though he may not admit it 🙂 Thank you for linking with #WeekendCoffeeShare.


    • Hi Natalie, he did concede that I was right – this time! Only because the doctors at the hospital told him how serious it was. Another patient told him his wife almost lost three fingers from a cat bite infection. Hopefully there won’t be a “next time” because I think he’ll be just as stubborn! Thanks so much for your comment, and for hosting the #WeekendCoffeeShare, regards Christina


  2. Ouch that doesn’t look like much fun Christina! So glad he had it checked, the fact it needed surgery is telling enough. You are right to say ‘I told you so’ but I know it sounds like nagging. Hopefully it won’t happen again! #weekendcoffeeshare


    • Hi Debbie, Yes it’s one thing to be stoic but it’s another to be stubborn and not listen to reason! To be honest I still think he’ll ignore my pleas to take a sick day in the future. I hate to be a nagging wife! Regards, Christina


  3. Ouch…I also learned that lesson the hard way when my daughter’s cat bit me. My entire hand was swollen and fortunately a doctor friend ordered me immediately to the hospital. I was on IV antibiotics and I was very lucky to have it resolve on its own. I hope your husband continues to recover and I am glad he acknowledged you were right. I know how very hard it is to extract that from a man…any man.


    • Hi Salimah, yes that is very true. It takes a lot for them to admit we’re right! That sounds like a nasty infection that you had – luckily you didn’t need surgery. Thanks so much for commenting, Regards Christina


  4. Whew! I am so glad your marriage survived intact! I think a lot of men are averse to medical intervention. I know my hubby is too. I would have had to bite my tongue to avoid saying “I told you so.” That wound looks nasty!


    • Hi Laurie, it’s really frustrating when they won’t go to the doctor, isn’t it?! I’m not sure that this experience will change him though. I’ll still have difficulty in getting him to take sick days off work! Thanks so much for commenting, regards Christina


    • Hi Vanessa, yes it’s like rubbing salt in the wound, isn’t it! Hopefully he’s learned his lesson the hard way, but I think I’ll still have difficulty in getting him to take sick days. Thanks for commenting, regards Christina


  5. My husband is a great one for continuing on regardless and for filling his down time with chores. Sometimes he listens to me, sometimes he doesn’t – usually he works on the “push through it” principle – which has cost us lots of $$ in physio etc when he tried to keep running after an Achilles tear – which would have resolved a lot quicker if he’d just rested it for a few weeks!


    • Hi Leanne, he sounds just like Phil! I can’t count the number of times he has gone to work sick or still used a sprained wrist. If he rested he’d get better sooner, but he doesn’t see the sense in that!


  6. Oh wow. Is it wrong if I say you’d be justified in saying “I told you so!”? I had no idea that a bit could cause infection but you’ve reminded me I was bitten by a dog when I was 5 or 6 and I don’t think I needed stitches but recall they gave me a tetanus shot!


    • Hi Deborah, it was very frustrating when he wouldn’t listen! He’s so stubborn! Ouch, a dog bit then a tetanus shot at that age. No wonder it’s stayed in your memory! Thanks so much for commenting, regards Christina


  7. Sometimes even the best of men are so stubborn and annoying. How tense that time must have been for you “when he wouldn’t do anything and it WAS public holiday. I found out about how dangerous cats can be way back when our son was about 13. He had a cat in his lap and the cat was doing the stretching thing with its paws into his groin area. Nothing to think about until some days later, swollen glands in groin, sent for emergency CT and diagnosis, “cat scratch disease” and put onto serious anti biotics. I am surprised more people do not know that bite/scratches from animals can do this.

    Thank you so much for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week, the optional prompt is
    8/51 Explore. 22 Feb. I hope to see you there and I wish you well for the week ahead. Denyse. #lifethisweek #linkup #Mondays


    • Oh wow Denyse, that sounds awful! You must have been so worried. I’ve never heard of it affecting groin lymph nodes like that but it makes sense. Infections from cat bites and scratches are really bad, but as you say, many people are unaware of the dangers. Thanks so much for your input, have a great weekend, regards Christina


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