I have a 3 year-old persian cat . She is very playful and like other pets. I make monthly checkups with the vet regarding her vaccines and health.

Sometimes while playing she bites and grasps with her nails which causes scratches on my skin with little amount of blood.

Is it harmful? If yes, are there any vaccines to reduce the infectious risk?

  • 2
    Hi @iDeveloper. Interesting question. I have just made some small "cosmetic" edits. Hope you agree. Best regards. M. Arrowsmith Sep 7 '16 at 15:11
  • @M.Arrowsmith Thumbs Up for the edit :)
    – iDeveloper
    Sep 9 '16 at 10:11

Here some info regarding of the pathogens which could be transmitted by saliva of cats (and hence by skin abrasions and bites):

Saliva of cats can be transmitted through bite wounds, skin abrasions, or mucous membranes. Teeth can penetrate deeply leading to contamination of bone and joint (osteomyelitis or septic arthritis). Infection complicates cat bites in about 50 percent of cases.

Some decades ago, a prospective study 1 incuding 186 patients with cat bite wounds reported following risk factors for wound infections: older age, longer time intervals until ED treatment, wounds inflicted by "pet" cats, attempting wound care at home, having a more severe wound and having a deeper wound.

The pathogens which can be transmitted through saliva of cats are:

  • bartonella henselae (causing cat scratch disease)
  • pasteurella multocida (can cause serious soft-tissue infections and less commonly septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, sepsis, and meningitis particularly in infants or immunocompromised hosts)
  • rabies
  • capnocytophaga (can cause sepsis or meningitis and if following an eye trauma due to a cat bite it can cause corneal infection)
  • tularemia (patient present with fever, chills, headache, and malaise, after an incubation period of 2 to 10 days)
  • cowpox (which can mimic anthrax, i.e. painful hemorrhagic pustule or black eschars)

A recent study 2 reported the frequency of pathogens found in cat bite wounds:

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There are vaccination against rabies. For laboratory workers, a vaccine against Francisella tularensis has been developed but is not yet widely available.


Kotton CN. Zoonoses from cats. UpToDate. Jun 2016. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/zoonoses-from-cats?source=machineLearning&search=zoonoses+cat&selectedTitle=1%7E150&sectionRank=1&anchor=H5#H5

For infos regarding vaccination: www.cdc.gov

  • 3
    Hi @S.Victor. Thanks for your answer, very interesting. Two small points: 1.could you maybe provide risk factors for infections following cat bites? This study provides some RF: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1823783. 2. could you add maybe add a small table of the most frequent pathogens following cat bites. This study provides an interesting table: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3122494. Hope you understand my points. Thank you in advance. Best regards. M.Arrowsmith Sep 7 '16 at 19:19
  • Thanks for reviewing and improving my answer M.Arrowsmith ;-) You are right, it makes more sense now. BW
    – S.Victor
    Sep 7 '16 at 20:04
  • Thanks a lot @S.Victor for the detailed explanation. Just had one last question. What if my cat is treated with anti-rabbies vaccination? Will the above answer still be valid? Just curious! :)
    – iDeveloper
    Sep 9 '16 at 10:10
  • 2
    Hi @iDeveloper. If your cat's rabies vaccination is uptodate, their shouldn't be any risk for rabies transmission. However, this concerns only rabies, the other listed pathogens are not covered by the vaccine so you could potentially be infected by those pathogens. The best thing to do (as suggested in one of the reviews and their listed risk factors for serious infections following cat bites) is to see a health prof. if you get bitten by a cat (in particular if you are immunocompromised). Hope this brought some clarification. Best wishes. S.Victor
    – S.Victor
    Sep 13 '16 at 9:47

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