Spending time with cats can put an individual at risk for a cat scratch. It is important to be prepared on what to do if an individual ends up with a cat scratch. For those who own a cat, the scratch wound can be easily treated if it is not too severe and there is a record if the cat is fully vaccinated or in good health.
Stray cats may not be vaccinated thus there is a need for treatment for bacterial infections such as tetanus or even rabies especially if the cat scratch is accompanied by a bite which increases the risk for infection.
Any cat scratch can cause severe pain. A shallow wound on the uppermost layer of the skin can cause minor bleeding while a deeper scratch can pierce layers of skin and there is bleeding.
Treatment of a superficial cat scratch
- When treating a cat scratch, you should wash and disinfect hands using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Clean between the fingers and under the fingernails and rinse it properly using clean water.
- Rinse the affected wound and areas around it using clean running water. Avoid using hot water that can aggravate the site if there is any bleeding.
- Wash carefully the scratch using a gentle soap and wash areas near the wound. If the cat scratch is on the forearm, wash the entire forearm and rinse completely using clean water from the faucet.
- Avoid scrubbing the scratch during washing to prevent making the injury severe or cause bruising to the damaged tissues.
- Apply the prescribed antiseptic ointment to promote fast healing of the wound. Apply an antibiotic ointment on the affected area at least 3 times every day.
- Avoid covering the scratched area. Make sure that it is exposed to fresh air and keep the area clean.
- If the wound is profusely bleeding, apply pressure to the area using a clean towel and press firmly until bleeding subsides.
- Elevate the affected area.
- Gently wash the scratched area using soap and rinse with clean water. Avoid scrubbing the area while washing to avoid triggering another bleeding episode.
- Use a clean towel and dry properly the wound and area around the cat scratch.
- Cover the wound using an adhesive bandage. A butterfly bandage or clean gauze dressing can also be used to cover the wound and keep it in place using a medical tape.
The details posted on this page on cat scratch is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage various wounds including a cat scratch, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.