Cat Bites and Injuries

When discussing personal injuries due to animals, cats are not normally thought of or discussed. However, injuries due to cats may prove to be more severe than is commonly thought of.

Example: The case of Allen v. Cox – 2008 – In this case, the plaintiff, Ms. Allen, was injured when she tried to protect her cat from a neighbor's cat that was currently attacking her cat. In trying to protect her cat, the defendant's cat bit her left arm.

Interestingly, it was undisputed that this was the first time the defendant's cat had ever bit a person and it was also known that it had previously attacked other cats.

The trial court rendered summary judgment for the defendants, on the ground that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether the defendant had notice of their cat's vicious or mischievous propensities giving rise to a duty of care to prevent the cat from injuring the plaintiff.

The Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the trial court's judgment and released an opinion holding that when a cat has a propensity to attack other cats, knowledge of that propensity may render the owner liable for injuries to people that are reasonably foreseeable as a result of such behavior. The court found that it was reasonably foreseeable that a person would try to protect their cat from another cat that was attacking it.

In a study done by the Mayo Clinic, 200 cat bite victims were studied. 57 of the patients who were bitten needed to be hospitalized. 38 patients needed surgery to clean the wound or remove infected tissue. 8 patients actually needed more than one surgical procedure, and some even needed reconstructive surgery.

The article noted that cats have no more germs in their mouths than dogs or even people; the difference, though, is that a cat's teeth are sharp and can penetrate very deeply, seeding bacteria in the joint and tendon sheaths. Due to the difference of the depth of a bite, infections can develop dangerously. A quick Google search of infected cat bites can show anyone how serious these bites can become. Recently, I was discussing this issue with a nurse here in Connecticut, who told me that they get a number of cat bite patients who didn't realize how serious their cat bite was until the infection was out of control. She told me that most people don't realize how dangerous cat bites can be, and thus don't seek medical attention right away.