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How Long Does It Take A Cat Bite To Heal?

If a cat has bitten you, and the bite is not healing, you may be wondering why. Why is it taking so long to heal and keep swelling? How long is it supposed to take to heal? 

Heal time for minor cat bites is 7-10 days, while heal time for major cat bites can take anywhere more than 14 days. 

If the wound is not showing signs of healing by the tenth day and is getting more irritated and reddish, it is most likely infected. Treating a cat bite is simple and straightforward. 

After reading, you will feel confident in caring for your wound, and you will know the most important signs to watch for.  

How long does it take a cat bite to heal? 

Minor bite without treatment

Minor bite wounds are wounds that do not pierce the skin. Not piercing the skin means there is less chance for the Bartonella henselae bacteria to be introduced to the body. 

These wounds generally take a maximum of ten days to heal. You should always seek a medical professional with any animal bite, no matter how serious it is. 

However, most people tend to keep an eye on it carefully and keep it clean. 

Deeper bites

Deeper bite wounds that have pierced the skin are more at risk of getting infected. 

Infection from a cat bite can set in within forty-eight hours. The first two days with a deeper bite wound are the most important in terms of care. 

These are the wounds where you want to immediately see your doctor. When the skin is pierced, it is easier for the Bartonella henselae bacteria to enter the body. 

A doctor will provide you with antibiotics to help prevent infection. 

Infected Wound

If a wound can be infected without having pus present, how are we supposed to know when it’s infected? It’s simpler than it sounds, don’t worry. You want to look out for three specific things when it comes to a cat bite infection. 

First, you want to look for swelling of and around the bite wound. Second, if the wound becomes more tender and painful as time passes. Lastly, the biggest sign is how long it takes the injury to heal. 

If you notice that the wound is not appearing to get better but seems to be worse instead, the wound is infected. 

It is most likely infected if the wound has not cleared up within the seven-to-ten-day timeframe. This is the most important thing to keep an eye on when monitoring a cat bite wound. 

Symptoms of infections in cat bite wounds will start showing within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. This is another reason that deeper wounds require antibiotics from a medical professional. 

Starting these medications as soon as possible helps prevent you from having to deal with an infection. 

Why do cat bites get infected so easily?

Why do cat bites get infected so easily

Cat’s mouths and claws are covered in various bacteria like Pasteurella multocida and Bartonella henselae bacteria. 

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These bacteria are why I recommend seeking out a doctor as soon as you possibly can because they are dangerous. 

Bartonella henselae is the cause of the cat-scratch disease (more commonly known as Cat Scratch Fever). Cat scratch disease is not a myth and is a severe infection from cat bites and scratches. 

This disease causes low-grade fevers and can cause swelling of lymph nodes. It can take up to three weeks to notice swelling of lymph nodes. 

Pasteurella multocida can travel through the bloodstream to infect other areas within your body. Symptoms of infection from both Pasteurella and Bartonella are very similar to flu symptoms. 

These types of infections require medical diagnosis and treatment. Cat bites are at high risk for infections because of these two bacteria within their mouth and claws. 

How to help a cat bite heal faster?

How to help a cat bite heal faster

Clean it immediately 

A cat bite wound should be cleaned as quickly as possible. The goal of this is to try to rinse the bacteria out of the wound. You should do this for any cat bite wound, even if the skin is not broken. 

You first want to wash your hands before touching the wound to clean it. This will remove any other germs from your hands. You do not want to add even more bacteria to the wound! 

Next, you want to gently clean the wound without scrubbing. Scrubbing will irritate the wound, which is the last thing you want. 

You will want to rinse the wound under clean running water for a moment to help rinse out any debris from the injury. Next, you will want to gently clean the wound with an antibacterial wash. 

Remember, try not to scrub it. As gently as you can, rub the soap on the wound to clean it. Next, you want to gently pat the wound dry. Do not rub it to dry it. 

You can now add antibacterial creams like Neosporin to the wound’s surface to help. Finally, you will want to cover the wound with clean gauze or bandages. 

Remember to wash your hands again after caring for the wound. 

Finally, if the wound is deep, you want to get professional medical assistance in caring for the wound. You will want to keep the wound elevated, if possible, to help reduce the chance of swelling. 

See your doctor for deep, bleeding wounds.

If the wound is deep, you want to seek out your doctor immediately. 

Infection can set in within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. The sooner you start antibiotics, the better chance you can prevent infection. 

Deep, bleeding wounds are an ideal environment for bacteria to grow, spread, and wreak havoc on your body. 

Stopping the bleeding needs to be your first priority for these types of wounds. Emergency departments are more likely to keep coagulants (medicines that help wounds clot and stop bleeding) than we are. 

They will be able to stop the bleeding and clean the wound at the same time to help prevent infections. Always follow your doctor’s lead for medical care. 

Foods that can promote healing

You’ve taken care of the wound properly, and you want to give your body the best chance of fighting the infection. 

Maybe you have a weak immune system and are worried about infection. Perhaps you already have an infection, and you want to give your body an extra boost to help it fight the good fight. Good news! 

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There are plenty of foods that can help naturally boost your immune system! However, please keep in mind that healthy foods will not be a one-stop shop when it comes to infection. 

These foods boost your immune system but do not guarantee the prevention of infection. 

Exactly what foods can you eat to boost your body’s immune system? Foods high in Vitamin C and D support your immune system. 

Examples of these foods are citrus fruits like: 

  • grapefruits
  • oranges
  • clementines 
  • tangerines 
  • lemons 
  • limes

Greek yogurt’s live cultures also help boost your immune system because of the Vitamin D.  

What if my wound doesn’t heal? 

What if my wound doesn’t heal

An infection will slow healing down.

Infections cause your body to heal slower. Your immune system must focus on ridding itself of these bacteria before it can focus on healing the wound itself. 

Remember, keep an eye out for swelling and inflammation. You may not see pus, but that does not mean that the wound is not infected! 

If the wound takes longer than ten days to heal and is tender, you should seek help from a medical professional. 

When to see a doctor

You should seek your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a cat, even if the wound does not break the skin. 

The bacteria in their mouth and claws spread and attack quickly. While the chance of getting an infection from a cat bite is lessened if the skin is not broken, it is not impossible. 

Doctors will prescribe appropriate antibiotics to help fight and prevent infection. I personally recommend seeking out a doctor as soon as possible, even if the bite does not break the skin. 

After all, the best medicine is preventative medicine. If you can get a start on helping your body fight infection before it starts, you are more likely to prevent infection altogether. 

Can the cat bite heal on its own? 

To answer this simply: yes. Most minor cases do heal on their own. 

The concern for cat bites and scratches centers around infection and the vaccination status of the offending cat. 

Doctors prescribe antibiotics more often for cat-related wounds than dogs because of the bacteria in a cat’s mouth and claws. Keeping the wound clean and elevated will reduce the chance of infection. 

The first 24-48 hours are typically when a cat bite or scratch infection will set in. Keep the wound clean and monitor it closely. 

Final thoughts

The healing time for a cat bite wound varies depending on the severity of the bite. 

A minor wound that does not break the skin will take between seven and ten days to heal. A deeper wound will take longer than ten days to recover. 

An infection will set in quick for cat bite wounds, only taking up to forty-eight hours to show symptoms of infection. 

If your wound becomes infected, there is no set time for healing. It will, at that point, depend on how you and your doctor care for it. 

Lastly, don’t forget to try immune-boosting foods to help your body work more efficiently.