Cat Scratch Fever
I didn’t know if cat scratch fever was a real disease that people got from being scratched by a cat, whether it was a disease cats got by being scratched by other cats, or if it was just a song by Ted Nugent, so I decided to look it up, having been scratched by my cat plenty of times while playing with her in the 9 years I’ve owned her.
Yes, there really is a disease called cat scratch fever, and you can get it by being bitten or scratched by a cat. Apparently, about 40% of cats carry the bacteria that causes it, Bartonella bacteria. You can be infected if an infected cat scratches or bites you, or even if you just pet an infected cat and then rub your eye! Kittens are more prone to have it than older cats, but infected cats don’t show any symptoms.
You can even get it if a cat licks an open wound on your skin, so be careful about those kitty kisses, too!
What are the symptoms:
- The first symptoms may show up in a week after infection or even 2 months later. At first you will get a bump or blister at the site of the injury.
Fever (in some patients)
Lymph node swelling around the site or in your neck (like mumps) or in your armpits.
Other symptoms that may develop may include loss of appetite, sore throat, weight loss, and then the list gets even worse.
If you have been bitten or scratched by a cat or are just around a cat and start to develop these symptoms, go to a doctor. Cat scratch fever can be hard to diagnose, because it is not really seen that often, but an IFA test can detect the Bartonella bacteria.
Cat scratch fever is not usually a serious disease. Most healthy children will recover without treatment. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic, such as azithromycin.
If you have a compromised immune system, it can develop serious consequences, so be sure to see a doctor.
I know I always wash my hands after cleaning out the litter box (naturally), but I never knew it was a good idea to wash my hands after petting my cat or letting my cat lick my skin.
My friend told me a joke once: “Cats aren’t clean, they’re covered with kitty spit!” I laughed at the time. I’ve been scratched by more than one cat and lived to tell the tale, and I’ve never felt it necessary to wash my hands after petting my cat, although if I do get scratched, I will wash the scratch thoroughly with soap and water and put on an antibacterial ointment just in case.
Anyway, here’s a quick video about cat scratch fever. I found it very educational. I still refuse to get scared of playing or petting my cat, though.