Drs. Oz & Roizen’s Tip of the Day: Cat bites are nothing to laugh at

King Features SyndicateMarch 12, 2014 

In the 1992 film “Batman Returns,” after being tossed off a building by evildoer Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), Selena Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) is bitten by a cat and reawakens as Catwoman.

Pretty good cinematic choices by director Tim Burton, since cat bites can pack a pretty big wallop, and statistically, most cat bites happen to adult women. Why do cats attack women? We don’t know. Maybe women are just more likely to be around them.

But whatever the circumstance, a cat bite may deliver — KAPOW! — an aggressive bacteria, Pasteurella multocida, that can trigger skin inflammation, infection, joint pain and swelling. And because cats’ fangs are sharp, they can deposit bacteria deep inside your flesh. Antibiotics, usually amoxicillin, often are administered. But a recent Mayo Clinic study found that 33 percent of patients who came to one hospital after they were bitten on the hand had to be hospitalized, and two-thirds of them needed surgery.

Does this happen with every nip? Reacting to the Mayo Clinic study, the UK’s National Health Service cautions that most cat bites go unreported and the study was not very representative.

We say the bottom line is that cat saliva carries nasty bacteria, and any animal bite can cause a serious infection. So if you have any signs of infection or pain (or you just want to be careful), report to the emergency room or urgent-care center. Remember, cats are the ones with nine lives, not you.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate.

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