Can One Get Rabies from a Cat scratch?

Maria Bayote

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Hi! I may sound dumb, but I have just been scratched by one of the street cats I am feeding outside. The scratch went through my vein on my hand so naturally it bled a bit. It is a bit swollen now. My question is: Can rabies be transmitted through a mere scratch or has to be really a bite? I am not sure if this cat has rabies too.

I searched online and it says it is highly unlikely as it has to be by saliva, but I just need more assurance here. Cats lick their paws too. 🙁
 

Willowy

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A scratch is considered exposure by the CDC. But from what I can find, it's extremely unlikely.

I know somone who was bitten by a wild farm cat, and this is what the doctor told her: if the cat is still around in 10 days, alive and healthy-looking, then he was not shedding rabies at the time of the bite, don't worry. If he disappears or dies mysteriously in the next 10 days, then you get in for a rabies shot.

Infection is a big threat though, keep a close eye on that. Not as much of a risk as from a bite but still high.

What country are you living in right now?
 
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Lari

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I think it's just bites? My husband got the rabies shot out of an overabundance of caution when he got bit by a kitten we were trying to help rescue. The hospital also had him het a tetanus booster as well.

A scratch can get infected, though! You may need antibiotics.
 
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Maria Bayote

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A scratch is considered exposure by the CDC. But from what I can find, it's extremely unlikely.

I know somone who was bitten by a wild farm cat, and this is what the doctor told her: if the cat is still around in 10 days, alive and healthy-looking, then he was not shedding rabies at the time of the bite, don't worry. If he disappears or dies mysteriously in the next 10 days, then you get in for a rabies shot.

Infection is a big threat though, keep a close eye on that. Not as much of a risk as from a bite but still high.

What country are you living in right now?
Thank you for your reply.

I am currently in the Middle East.
 
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Maria Bayote

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I think it's just bites? My husband got the rabies shot out of an overabundance of caution when he got bit by a kitten we were trying to help rescue. The hospital also had him het a tetanus booster as well.

A scratch can get infected, though! You may need antibiotics.
Ok, noted. I will keep an eye on the scratched area. I have been feeding this cat since I moved to this new place, and this is the first time she did this. Maybe I did something wrong in my approach to her and she got threatened.

Thank you.
 

Willowy

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Thank you for your reply.

I am currently in the Middle East.
I assume one of the richer countries like UAE, well, because people don't usually move to poorer countries for employment ;). UAE has a very low incidence of rabies, due to strict animal control measures, but many of the poorer ME countries have a high incidence. Here's a list: Rabies risks in terrestrial animals by country

But I think you can do the "wait and see" protocol, especially if she's a regular at the feeding dish.
 

kittychick

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There are no questions here. Everyone here does a nice job of being pleasant and informative. And none of us consider any question stupid - just an opportunity to learn something new!

Secondly, definitely watch for infection, especially since it broke the skin. Since it did - watch it carefully. If it really puffs up, feels hot, YOU get hot (temperature), orgets really red around it and/or a streak of red starts from it. Those are signs of infection - and if it gets to that - I'd see your doctor ASAP (I'm not a doctor - I just play one on the internet 🤣). I'd put something like Neosporin on it (or whatever you can find there). Scratches seem to be a little less likely to spread infection then bites, but both need to be watched carefully for awhile.

It's good that you'll get to see her since she's a regular. That way you can watch her and see if she seems to continue to act normal. The American Humane Organization says that regular quarantine with an animal is 10 days. So if you see him past 10 days, still looking her old self, you've likely got not much to worry doubt it.

Just keep an eye on it! And don't get upset with her - - touching her may be too early in the process for her (it took 5 years for me to be able to touch one of our TNR'd feral kitties!!!!). She could have just been nervous, or scared, or startled. Feral kitties have a STRONG fight or flight sense - it's what keep them alive out there!

So keep us posted - - - odds are you're fine, but it can still be scary!
 
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Maria Bayote

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There are no questions here. Everyone here does a nice job of being pleasant and informative. And none of us consider any question stupid - just an opportunity to learn something new!

Secondly, definitely watch for infection, especially since it broke the skin. Since it did - watch it carefully. If it really puffs up, feels hot, YOU get hot (temperature), orgets really red around it and/or a streak of red starts from it. Those are signs of infection - and if it gets to that - I'd see your doctor ASAP (I'm not a doctor - I just play one on the internet 🤣). I'd put something like Neosporin on it (or whatever you can find there). Scratches seem to be a little less likely to spread infection then bites, but both need to be watched carefully for awhile.

It's good that you'll get to see her since she's a regular. That way you can watch her and see if she seems to continue to act normal. The American Humane Organization says that regular quarantine with an animal is 10 days. So if you see him past 10 days, still looking her old self, you've likely got not much to worry doubt it.

Just keep an eye on it! And don't get upset with her - - touching her may be too early in the process for her (it took 5 years for me to be able to touch one of our TNR'd feral kitties!!!!). She could have just been nervous, or scared, or startled. Feral kitties have a STRONG fight or flight sense - it's what keep them alive out there!

So keep us posted - - - odds are you're fine, but it can still be scary!
Yes, thank you very much. I believe I might have scared her too. Or maybe as I opened the door she caught the scent of my indoor cats and suddenly by instinct she attacked, that was why I was not prepared since she was usually friendly to me. I have always been good in predicting when my Bourbon would swat me. I failed back there. LOL.

My husband called our vet and we were assured there are no cases of rabies where I am. Nevertheless, as everyone said, I’d keep an eye still for any infection. I do appreciate all your answers and assurances. I was really nervous back there, and TCS came first in mind to ask for questions. 🙂

if anything, I shall update. THANK YOU. 🙂
 

fionasmom

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In November I was bitten by a feral cat I feed nearby. She is not one of mine and the story does not add anything here to help you. It was a real bite with teeth, blood, the works. I checked the Los Angeles county site for rabies vectors and it was unclear although LA county has not had a case in years and only bats in the foothills are a risk. Called my GP who told me to go to the closest hospital as they would have the HRIG on hand and also know about the vectors for certain. The ER doctor gave me a tetanus shot instantly, which is something you might want to consider if you are not up to date on yours, told me that there is no vector here for stray cats, not to worry, showed me how to clean and care for the wound and that was it.

If you have been assured that there is no active vector from a medical professional like a vet, I would assume that you are fine.
 

kittychick

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Oops! Just realized I wrote "There are no questions here." - - needless to say, I meant "There are no STUPID questions here." Big difference. Sorry - - hope no one was offended and understood what I meant despite my pathetic proofing.
 

daftcat75

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As everyone else stated, the likelihood of getting rabies from a cat scratch is low enough to not worry about it.

However, "cat scratch fever" aka bartonella infection is something to watch for. I would put a topical antiseptic/antibiotic like Neosporin on it to be on the safe side. Watch for anything that doesn't look normal over the next week or two.

Cat Scratch Fever: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
 
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kittychick

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Maria Bayote Maria Bayote - glad your husband talked to your vet. Anytime you're concerned about a bite or scratch (or tick or...well, you name it) talking to your vet &/or doctor is by FAR the best thing to do. They know what's happening in your region - -plus they can settle your mind quite a bit!

And I'm glad you haven't held it against Bourbon - - that's the easy thing to do, so I'm glad it hasn't scared you from caring for her. Because you're right - she was likely startled - or even just in a mood in which she's not feeling like being touched at the moment. One of our house kitties (who used to be a feral kitty) who's the sweetest thing you've ever seen - but the other day she was looking extra cute while she was sleeping,, so I leaned over to smooch her head. Something she usually loves. But she was sound asleep - and I should have known better (understandably, she still does have a stronger "fight or flight" sense then our "never feral" kitties) - - because I scared the bejesus out of her and she swatted - claws out - missing my eye by millimeters! But it's all because I scared her - not her fault at all. So I'm glad to see you're still willing to take care of Bourbon.

I love knowing you're feeling ok AND you're still feeling ok about Bourbon!
 
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Maria Bayote

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Oops! Just realized I wrote "There are no questions here." - - needless to say, I meant "There are no STUPID questions here." Big difference. Sorry - - hope no one was offended and understood what I meant despite my pathetic proofing.
Yes, I got it the first time. I knew it was just some typo error. No worries. ;) I appreciate all the info too.

However, "cat scratch fever" aka bartonella infection is something to watch for. I would put a topical antiseptic/antibiotic like Neosporin on it to be on the safe side. Watch for anything that doesn't look normal over the next week or two.
Yes, THANK YOU. I was talking to my son via chat earlier and told him what happened. He was begging me to go to the doctor. Told him not to worry, though. "Just a scratch", I said. I skipped the part where I really panicked yesterday. LOL.

And I'm glad you haven't held it against Bourbon - - that's the easy thing to do, so I'm glad it hasn't scared you from caring for her. Because you're right - she was likely startled - or even just in a mood in which she's not feeling like being touched at the moment.
Sorry I may have confused you guys, but Bourbon is one of my indoor cats. What I meant was I usually am alert when it comes to cat swatting as I have been trained by my Bourbon (she swats me with or without reason, LOL. So I learned when she would attack by her body language). However, this cat outside that attacked me caught me by surprise. I haven't named her yet as I just recently moved in this new place. And yes, I do not hold it against her. This morning she was there at the balcony again and waiting for her breakfast. LOL. I would now have to be more cautious with her though.

The ER doctor gave me a tetanus shot instantly, which is something you might want to consider if you are not up to date on yours, told me that there is no vector here for stray cats, not to worry, showed me how to clean and care for the wound and that was it.
Thanks for this advice. Appreciate it.
 
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