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October 9, 2011 11:24 AM   Subscribe

I think my cat was bitten by a raccoon. Any advice?

My cat spends his days inside and nights outside. He's always back in the morning, but this morning he had two bite wounds - one on either side of his front leg. Not really knowing what else to do, I put hydrogen peroxide and bactine on the wounds. (I also called and left a message at the vet's office for an appt. next week) Luckily, his leg is not broken, although he does have a limp. He's about four years old and I just had him into the vet three weeks ago to get rabies and distemper shots again. Any advice before the vet re-opens on Monday would be appreciated. Thank you.
posted by melangell to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call your local emergency vet clinic and ask what you should do. They will probably tell you to come in as raccoons carry rabies.
posted by TheBones at 11:29 AM on October 9, 2011

Ditto the above. Since you didn't witness the attack there's no way to tell if your cat was aggressive towards the raccoon or whether the raccoon was acting abnormally. It's far, far better to be safe than sorry.
posted by tommasz at 11:36 AM on October 9, 2011

Your local health department may require that the animal be quarantined (which in some jurisdictions can be at home), even with a current vaccination.
posted by dhartung at 11:37 AM on October 9, 2011

It might well be a bite from another cat as well, cat's can get quite vicious with each other. You have to watch cat bites (and I am guessing raccoons are similar) in that their teeth puncture and their mouths are full of bacteria it is not at all uncommon for cat bit wounds to get infected. It would be worth the vet seeing it if only to get your cat on antibiotics, I've seen cat bites get infected and all kinds of nasty very quickly because they are punctures they don't drain well. I would at least call the vet too what with the chance of rabies etc.
posted by wwax at 11:37 AM on October 9, 2011

Our cat recently came in with a deep bite at the base of his tail; we didn't know what bit him. I wonder why you think a raccoon bit your cat? We sort of tended to assume ours had gotten into a fight with another cat, but we don't really have any evidence for that.

We took him to the vet and she gave him an antibiotic shot, and sent us home with some stuff to clean the wound with daily. He also got to wear the cone of shame so he wouldn't lick it. She didn't talk to us about rabies or mention what animal she thought might have bitten him, but he was already up-to-date on his shots. I think that it was probably about 24-36 hours between when he got bit and when we got him to the vet; certainly it was overnight. Given that it's Sunday, and that your cat's shots are up-to-date, in your shoes I would wait and call the vet first thing tomorrow morning rather than pay emergency vet rates, but I'm kind of cheap.
posted by not that girl at 11:40 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A raccoon would have just killed your cat, it's probably another cat. Or maybe an opossum or rat.

If he's vaccinated against rabies then I wouldn't worry about that. If it were my cat I'd soak the wounds in epsom salts and hot water for as long as you feel like wrestling with him 3 or 4 times per day. That should draw out any nasties. Then take him into the vet when they open Monday and see if he needs an antibiotic.

We had a big male farm cat that got into a lot of scraps and the above worked well enough that he only needed antibiotics once and that was because we hadn't noticed the initial bite wound. We're also pretty sure that time it was a cat, whereas a large proportion of the other bites were his little furry victims.
posted by fshgrl at 11:45 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Vet, asap. Cats, when bitten, can get abscesses easily because of how quickly they heal, which doesn't allow the wound to drain. A cat needing a drain surgically put in is not a fun experience for human or cat. Expensive, too.

If it were me, I would be watching my cat carefully and maybe would be okay waiting until monday, but no later. But if there's anything weird going on, or I was the slightest bit unsure, I'd find a vet that is open today

Also, keep kitty indoors in the meantime.
posted by cgg at 11:49 AM on October 9, 2011

Yes, keep him indoors, get to the vet tomorrow, and he will clean out the wound and put the kitty on antibiotics and he will be fine. His shots are up to date but abcesses can form fast, as others have said. You don't need that. It probably was another cat, not a raccoon who was the culprit.
posted by mermayd at 11:58 AM on October 9, 2011

I would take your cat to an emergency clinic, especially if the bite is in a joint - those can get very infected very fast - cats tend to heal on the surface and grow infections underneath which become ugly abscesses. You can spend a LOT more on a vet bill later if you end up needing surgery. The wound needs to be fully cleaned and antibiotics given most likely.
posted by leslies at 12:09 PM on October 9, 2011

My big male cat has been bitten three times. I recommend hot compresses 3 or 4 times a day and a vet trip tomorrow. If the wound starts to smell bad, go to the emergency vet today.

There's no reason to assume it was a raccoon unless you saw your cat messing with one. I agree that a raccoon would have done more damage than just one bite.

Puncture wounds do tend to abscess, so don't forgo the vet trip.
posted by dchrssyr at 12:55 PM on October 9, 2011

I'd take him to the vet as soon as you reasonably can, but unless you see a rabid raccoon around, in which case you should report it to animal control, you really just need to observe your cat now that you have cleaned out the wounds to make sure they don't get infected before the appointment.

He's had his shots and boosters, so all the panicky responses about rabies are really not relevant. When my cat got into an altercation with a raccoon (demon cat provoked it), infection was the biggest concern.
posted by misha at 1:18 PM on October 9, 2011

Best answer: Another thing you can do is apply antibiotic ointment, it is ok for them to lick, but will help prevent infections, and the analgesic will help keep your kitty from messing with it.
posted by annsunny at 1:29 PM on October 9, 2011

This happened to my dog this summer. We luckily have an emergency clinic here, but they told me the following:

1. Most raccoons have distemper, but not rabies.
2. If they do and your cat got bitten (and has a rabies shot), they'll probably be fine until Monday.
3. Watch the cat for weird behavior.
4. Watch the neighborhood animals for weird behavior.
5. If you can find the animal, observe it.

Your cat should be fine.
posted by mrfuga0 at 5:10 PM on October 9, 2011

Even if he is vaccinated, he needs a rabies booster, this is standard protocol. He also likely needs antibiotics. Please get him to the vet asap.
posted by biscotti at 5:11 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Biscotti, the cat just had a rabies booster three weeks ago, and distemper as well. And she's planning to take him next week.
posted by misha at 7:36 PM on October 9, 2011

I believe (biscotti would know for sure, obviously) that the annual rabies shot is just enough to get by, but that animals should always get a booster right after a bite just to be sure.

Given that rabies is fatal, incurable, and horrible, I would definitely err on the side of caution and go to an emergency vet immediately.
posted by ErikaB at 9:09 PM on October 9, 2011

A raccoon would have just killed your cat, it's probably another cat. Or maybe an opossum or rat.

Raccoons bite cats all the time- it's not like cats have never escaped from raccoons.

Trying to flush out little tubes inserted under their skin to drain pus is a lot more work than just giving them antibiotics. Lean on your vet to go sooner rather than later, both to deal with the rabies shot and to hopefully prevent an abscess.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:40 AM on October 10, 2011

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