What is Cat Scratch Disease?

Cat scratch disease, also known as cat scratch fever, is a bacterial infection spread by cats.  You can get this if an infected cat licks your open wound, or if they bite or scratch you hard enough to break the skin.  The risk is increased with kittens, because they are more likely to scratch.

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Cat Scratch Disease

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • How Do Cats Get Cat Scratch Disease
  • Symptoms of Cat Scratch Disease
  • How to Treat Cat Scratches
  • How to Prevent Cat Scratch Disease
  • How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching You

how do cats get cat scratch diseaseHow Do Cats Get Cat Scratch Disease?

Cat scratch disease is caused by a bacterium called, Bartonella henselae.  Nearly half of all cats carry this at some point in their lives, and most show no signs of illness.  Kittens are more likely to have the infection and spread it to people.  How do they get infected with Bartonella henselae?  Most commonly from flea bites and flea droppings, or by fighting with (getting bitten or scratched by) other cats who are infected.

what is cat scratch diseaseWhat are the Symptoms of Cat Scratch Disease?

Common symptoms off cat scratch disease include:

  • A cat scratch or bite that gets red or swollen, does not heal, or gets worse
  • Swollen or painful glands, under your arms if you were scratched on your arms or hands, or in the groin if you were scratched on your legs or feet.
  • Flu-like symptoms like headache, fatigue, joint pain, decreased appetite or fever
  • A body rash

How to Treat Cat Scratches

If your cat scratches or bites you hard enough to break the skin, wash the area well with soap and water right away and call your doctor if you develop any of the symptoms of cat scratch disease we’ve just discussed.

how to prevent cat scratch diseaseHow to Prevent Cat Scratch Disease

  • Trim your cat’s nails regularly
  • Do not allow your cat to lick your wounds
  • Don’t play rough with your cat, encouraging them to scratch or bite
  • Wash cat bites or scratches with soap water right away
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after playing with your cat, especially if you’re around young children, elderly people or people with weakened immune systems
  • Don’t pet or touch stray or feral cats
  • Keep your cats indoors to decrease their chance of getting fleas or coming into contact with potentially infected cats or other animals
  • Control fleas (see my article, How to Get Rid of Fleas and How to Prevent Getting Them in the First Place).

how to prevent your cat from scratching youHow to Stop Your Cat from Scratching You

Scratching is important for a cat’s health and well-being.  But it’s important to teach your cat where and what to scratch and also learn how to stop cat scratching.  Here are some tips:

what is cat scratch diseaseI’m Glad You Know About Cat Scratch Disease

I’m glad you found out that cat scratch fever exists and that you’re educating yourself on what it is and how to prevent it.  This is especially important if you have a new kitten or if you’ve adopted a feral or stray cat.  It’s also important to know that small children, elderly people and people with a compromised immune system are more at risk of getting cat scratch fever, and for some, it can be serious.

If you have an outdoor cat, please be aware that you don’t know where your cat has been or what they may have come in contact with.  Prevent fleas, wash cat beds and blankets regularly and make it’s your family’s habit to wash your hands after playing with your cat.

For Help with Cat Behavior?What is Cat Scratch Disease?

If you feel you need help with your cat’s behavior, I can recommend a very good resource for cat training called, Complete Cat Training Guide from KingdomofPets.com. This is a downloadable ebook containing step-by-step instructions on how to solve 25 real-life cat behavior problems.  This program is $37 and comes with a full money-back guarantee.

What is Cat Scratch Disease?

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