Thinking of putting my kitty down... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 06:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Not sure what to do. She has a tendancy to attack.

Today she attacked me. I was petting her and for no reason at all she turned on me and bit me in the arm. Previously when she has done this she attacks and runs. Not this time. She just kept biting. It realy scared me.

She has attacked DD#1 when she was a toddler and was curious about her. Now she knows better and stays away from her. Our kitty also has attacked our baby. DD#2 was crawling over to her and she got attacked on the head. The kitty is declawed (she came that way-I am opposed to declawing and think it has emotionaly scarred her) but bites. She did not harm dd#2 but scared her realy bad.

Our kitty sleeps in our room and has attacked my feet during sleeping. We have a family bed including kitty. I am afraid for my dc's. I just don't want my kitty to harm them.

I dont think that I would give the kitty away to another home as we live in a rural area and there are tons of barn cats around. People shoot them around here. Our kitty also has litter box issues and i think that might anger someone if they adopted her. We have had her on an adoption list at the vets and no one has shown any interest for adopting her.
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#2 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 08:57 PM
 
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Vegmom...Sorry if I sound harsh here, but I think this is so SELFISH of you. This seems like normal cat behavior for a "kitty". How old is your cat, have you had it for a long time? I see that you must have had it for awhile as your first dc had issues with the cat and now you say he knows better and stays away. Seems like if I had a cat that behaved like this I would have the water bottle handy.
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Originally Posted by vegmom
Our kitty sleeps in our room and has attacked my feet during sleeping. We have a family bed including kitty. I am afraid for my dc's. I just don't want my kitty to harm them.
Better get that cat out of your room at night.

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Originally Posted by vegmom
I dont think that I would give the kitty away to another home as we live in a rural area and there are tons of barn cats around. People shoot them around here.
Well at least s/he would have a chance of survival, as it seems like s/he would be happier living in a barn than not living at all.

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#3 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 09:02 PM
 
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I can understand your feelings. Of course I value an animals life, however, I valuse a childs safety more. If you feel like you can't keep your children safe with the cat in the house, then to me, removing the cat from the house is the only answer. I would take the cat to a no kill animal shelter if possible. Perhaps it would do better in a home with out children.

Good luck with your decision.
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#4 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 09:19 PM
 
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My cat does this- it really surprises me to hear you say that you'd put a cat down for biting you. It would never even cross my mind.

I guess it depends on what you mean by attack... but my cat will get into moods where he's testy and will fight with and bite DH and I. Often times it happens when the cat gets spooked by something, or wants to play with fabric when I'm sewing. Sometimes it happens exactly the way described- I'm sitting with kitty on my lap, petting him, and suddenly he bites and engages in fighting/attack behavior. When this happens, DH usually turns it into a game. I simply pick the cat up by the scruff of the neck and toss him to the other side of the room or put him into a different room or outside. Yes, it's annoying. But it's just a cat. I've gotten lots of scratches and bites from my cat, but I don't love him any less.

As for the kids, I've never worried about them. I know that he wouldn't attack them unless he was provoked (and believe me, they provoke the poor kitty). The cat has bitten all of my kids at some point in time, and I'm certain that it will happen again in the future. Our cat has even done the same thing you describe, biting the top of the baby's head. But he's never seriously hurt anyone.

I guess I just don't see a cat bite as a serious problem. I view having a cat an opportunity for my kids to learn how to coexist peacefully with an animal.

And I view an occasional bite by a cat to be a normal behavior. Although your baby seems like a sweet, innocent child to you, to the cat, the baby is an unpredictable creature who is several times larger than him, and may seem dangerous. A cat bite may scare a child, but is unlikely to seriously hurt a child. And being bitten will teach the child how to act around animals.

I'm sorry, but killing a cat because it bit you a couple of times is going WAY overboard. I'd suggest you talk to your vet, and see if he/she has any suggestions for behavior modification. Your vet would probably also tell you that occasional biting is normal, natural behavior for a domesticated cat.

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#5 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 09:27 PM
 
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*do these posts ever end? Will an animal companion ever get a break?!?!

I am having a hard time imaging what you described to be "scarey". I don't think your life or the lives of your kids are at risk. But, I'm not there so maybe you're referring to a very big kitty. lol.

No, really. He sounds like a pretty normal cat. Consult a behaviorist... they can take care of the litter box issues too!
*long live cat*
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#6 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 09:30 PM
 
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My previous cat was like that (he's been missing for a month now ). I never thought it was abnormal for a cat to act like this. My kids learned pretty fast that they had to be careful with the cat, and that petting him was a risky business. He too was attacking us at night, and would but and scratch in the middle of a nice petting session, without any reason. He was young (10 months old), so I was hoping it would get better, but it would not have been a reason to put him down.
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#7 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 10:19 PM
 
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When you say "bite" do you mean the cat breaks the skin?

Cat bites are nasty. If it was *real* biting, breaking the skin, I would be concerned, especially if it was repetitive. I don't think that's normal.

But the PP are right -- cats do tussle, and they use claws and mouths when they tussle. I strongly feel that just as with a dog, if your cat's behavior is a problem then it's your responsibility to train the animal. I've taught several of my cats not to be rough. Usually they learn from their mama cat, as kittens, but sometimes not.
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#8 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 10:25 PM
 
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"very big kitty" :LOL

Our cat "attacks' us sometimes too. Its a little annoying but certainly not scary. I don't understand how you fear for your children. We're talking about a housecat, right?
Sorry, but I agree with the PPs. It would be very selfish of you to KILL a cat for biting and scratching.
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#9 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 10:42 PM
 
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Unless the attack is a LOT more severe than I'm envisioning, your scenario sounds like EVERY cat I've had or my past roommates have had. Only elderly, super-docile cats don't act like that, in my experience. My current cat plays VERY rough and attacks occasionally. It's in play technically, but it hurts! I reprimand him and he is learning.

I don't know what to say. Maybe it's not actually like I'm picturing it. If it is, I don't see any fear or danger being appropriate.

Just my take. If I'm off base, I apologize...I can't see your kitty.

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#10 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 10:42 PM
 
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I think it's important here to find out what the OP means by attacks before condemning her for being worried about her childs safety. Cat bites can be VERY severe. I personally have spent MANY weeks in hospital on IV antibiotics and came very close to loosing my hand after one serious bite. If this cat is breaking skin in an unprovoked manner (attacking a crawling child who isn't yet on top of him is indeed unprovoked--I don't know many cats who are not capable of getting the hell out of the way when needed) In the medical community cat bites are considered far more serious than dog bites (cat bites where skin is punctured and torn) and I can guarentee and I could locate about 50 threads condemning a mama for NOT wanting to kill her dog who was aggresive towards her children.
That aside, I would want to ask a couple questions of the OP.

1) Cat is female-right?
2) Does kitty happen to be a calico or tortie shell?
3) When did the litter box issues begin?
4) Does this cat groom constantly--especially to the point of creating bald patches on her belly or legs?
5) What diet is this cat on?
6) How old is this cat?

Hopefully you havn't been scared off from the thread and can answer those questions for me, I may be able to suggest some things that will help with her behavior.
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#11 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 10:43 PM
 
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We have three cats...Guinness (our 6 year old) is a very rough kitty...he hisses, bites, is generally unpleasant to children and adults. He's in a constant bad mood...very rarely (when Willow is asleep) will he grace our laps with his present. He's a PITA...but he's MY PITA...and I love him dearly. I know you love your kitty dearly too...She may be crotchety and ill-tempered...but there are ways to cohabitate relatively peacefully.

It hurts my heart when Guinness bites me or Willow...I feel like I've failed him and my kid...but he's just letting us know how he feels.

Maybe look into WHY she's biting...?

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#12 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 10:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This isnt a "tussle". It is an ATTACK. She breaks skin EVERYTIME she does this. Although when she ATTACKED my baby this didn't happen because she could not get her teeth around my baby's head. This time was worse than ever. I was nursing my babe to sleep. I was petting her. It was calm, quiet, and a very loving moment. Then she attacked my arm. She drew blood across my whole forearm. She did not let go as normal. And clung on for about 2 minutes. I was thrusting my arm trying to get her to let go. Then she finally let go but did not run as she normally does. Just stared at me. I am a bit freaked out. I cried after this happened. Her attacks are vicious. I would not consider this normal cat behaviour. I have had 5 kitty's as pets and used to volunteer at the Humane Society. Which BTW would put cats down for this kind of behaviour.

If this was a dog you would have different responses. Dog attacks are all over the news and children get realy get harmed by them. This is a serious issue. I am not going to have my kitty attack my children even when they do nothing to provoke them. I do not think it is selfish to protect my children.

I have no idea how i would be able to train my kitty with a spray bottle. This is unprovoked, unexpected behaviour.
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#13 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 11:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shannon0218
I think it's important here to find out what the OP means by attacks before condemning her for being worried about her childs safety. Cat bites can be VERY severe. I personally have spent MANY weeks in hospital on IV antibiotics and came very close to loosing my hand after one serious bite. If this cat is breaking skin in an unprovoked manner (attacking a crawling child who isn't yet on top of him is indeed unprovoked--I don't know many cats who are not capable of getting the hell out of the way when needed) In the medical community cat bites are considered far more serious than dog bites (cat bites where skin is punctured and torn) and I can guarentee and I could locate about 50 threads condemning a mama for NOT wanting to kill her dog who was aggresive towards her children.
That aside, I would want to ask a couple questions of the OP.

1) Cat is female-right?
2) Does kitty happen to be a calico or tortie shell?
3) When did the litter box issues begin?
4) Does this cat groom constantly--especially to the point of creating bald patches on her belly or legs?
5) What diet is this cat on?
6) How old is this cat?

Hopefully you havn't been scared off from the thread and can answer those questions for me, I may be able to suggest some things that will help with her behavior.
Our kitty is a female tabby. She has always had litter box issues which have dissappeared in the last six weeks. We have had her for 4 years now before we had DD#1. She was a rescue kitty that we got from the shelter i was volunteering at. It was a no kill shelter and she was there for months. Nobody wanted her because she was vicious. She is thirteen years old. Her previous owners neglected her and kept her to one room and did not socialize much with her. I love her very much. Her previous life before us is probably why she is the way she is. Children, dogs, cats..Everybody has to be socialized. She loves to attention but when she gets it she freaks out and attacks. I am afraid to give her attention.

Her diet is a good quality dried cat food. With actual meat as ingredients. She does throw up quite a bit though. I am not convinced its hairballs. The vet did not say much about this.
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#14 of 25 Old 05-07-2005, 11:23 PM
 
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Ok, well, with her age and her background, coupled with chronic litter box issues here's what I'd try....

If possible, put her on an all meat raw food diet (or meat with some veggies) many stores sell it commercially now. If that isn't feasable, put her on one of these 4 diets. Innova Feline, California Natural Chicken and Rice, Felidae or Solid Gold. Those are the 4 I *know* have no sugars in them (including beet pulp)
If she's easy enough to pill, give her 1/4 of a standard (lower dose) vit B complex. (this one isn't hugely important if you can find one of those foods near you)
Buy some organic dried catnip and sprinkle it on her food twice a day (or whenever she eats) even better, grow your own and give it to her fresh.
If you notice mild improvement with catnip, there is a VERY good chance that a trial of one of either Elavil or Clonicalm would be well worth the effort. Elavil works better for litter box issues, Clonicalm works better for aggresion--but they both work on both issues. Elavil is dirt cheap, clonicalm isn't too bad now that it's available in generic form. Some cats though, do great on just catnip, it mellows them out just enough to stop that panic reaction that is likely happening when she attacks.

Next up, can she be provoked (meaning--is there something you can do to her to make her bite you?) If so, wear leather welding gloves and handle her in the ways you know will cause her to bite you. When she attacks the gloves she will not be able to bite through. You then need to make an effort to stay completely calm and talk in a low calm voice to her, not withdrawing your hand, but just letting her "bite herself out" Do this once a day for a week, then every other day and continue to cut down in weekly increments. The purpose is to desensitise her to the behavior that sends her into panic mode. Also, in not getting a reaction to her attack, it removes some of the natural hunt instinct that tends to kick in at these times.

Some of these things are easier to get done than others, but most will show results in a week or two.
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#15 of 25 Old 05-08-2005, 12:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I will try what you have suggested. But only with dh present and when the girls are in bed. I have tried rescue remedy with her and that did not work very well. We did have another kitty in the house at the time.

Do i get Elavil and Clonicalm at the vets?

The only other way we have provoked her was by giving her meds. She just salivates alot and runs away. She even lets us bathe her and then scoots off. Funny how when we are in her face she does nothing. But when gently giving her love and attention she turns on us. There have been times were i have been petting her and i would instinctively stop, knowing that to much petting can cause a reaction out of her. So if the catnip does not work, i will try the meds, with the behaviour training.

Thank you so much shannon. It was what i needed. It is why i posted. I don't want to kill my kitty.
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#16 of 25 Old 05-08-2005, 12:39 AM
 
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Yes, you would get both those meds from your vet.
Good luck and feel free to pm if need any other advice about her.
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#17 of 25 Old 05-08-2005, 01:10 AM
 
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Wow, that *would* be scary!

Shannon is right, actual breaking-the-skin bites are nothing to sneeze at. My gentle, sweet, shy Laurel kitty freaked out once while I was trying to put her in a carrier (apparenlty she's claustrophobic) and bit me deeply on the hand, and I ended up at the ER a couple days later with my hand all swollen up and a great case of pasturella. Fun

Good luck!
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#18 of 25 Old 05-08-2005, 01:18 AM
 
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I had a cat in college that scared the crap out of me. He bit often and hard enough to bite the skin. I could not have people over to my apartment because he would attack my guests if he wasn't busy attacking me. If I put him in my room, he'd meow his freakin' head off. I realized I was staying out of my apartment because I was scared of my cat. He scratched my boyfriend bad enough that he needed stitches one night. Each of these attacks were completely and totally unprovoked.

Finally, my dad came and took him to my parent's house in the country. He did much better there, but was still a huge problem. As long as it was just my parents there everything was okay, but this cat chased my brother's girlfriend across the yard one night and frequently trapped me in the bathroom. I was very, very relieved when this cat died.

If you've never dealt with something like this then you can't imagine what it is like. If I hadn't had my parents to take the cat I would have had him put down. I wouldn't want to chance someone with kids getting the cat.

I hope that you get the issues with this cat resolved. Best to you no matter what you decide.
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#19 of 25 Old 05-08-2005, 01:44 AM
 
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Quote:
So if the catnip does not work, i will try the meds, with the behaviour training.

Thank you so much shannon. It was what i needed. It is why i posted. I don't want to kill my kitty.
Awww, good for you for doing the right thing. I know this is hard.
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#20 of 25 Old 05-08-2005, 01:52 AM
 
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I would also consider some flower remedies you can just add a couple of drops in her water of Holly, Cherry Plum, Vine and see if it helps in addition. I hate using medication but have had clients use it as a last resort, or they were already on it for whatever reason, and it can help and definitely better than euthanasia. I have also seen this behavior in other cat's that have been declawed (and I think like you say it really affects and traumatizes some cats) and the homeopathic remedy Hypericum helped really well even a long time after the event, and just would give 1 pellet of 30 C daily for 3 days.

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#21 of 25 Old 05-08-2005, 01:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mothra
I had a cat in college that scared the crap out of me. He bit often and hard enough to bite the skin. I could not have people over to my apartment because he would attack my guests if he wasn't busy attacking me. If I put him in my room, he'd meow his freakin' head off. I realized I was staying out of my apartment because I was scared of my cat. He scratched my boyfriend bad enough that he needed stitches one night. Each of these attacks were completely and totally unprovoked.

Finally, my dad came and took him to my parent's house in the country. He did much better there, but was still a huge problem. As long as it was just my parents there everything was okay, but this cat chased my brother's girlfriend across the yard one night and frequently trapped me in the bathroom. I was very, very relieved when this cat died.

If you've never dealt with something like this then you can't imagine what it is like. If I hadn't had my parents to take the cat I would have had him put down. I wouldn't want to chance someone with kids getting the cat.

I hope that you get the issues with this cat resolved. Best to you no matter what you decide.
Uggg! How horrible. I do not fear my kitty this much now, but i did at the beginning. This just made me remember that my tabby attacked my midwife during dd#2 homebirth. Just her ankles and did not break skin. We put her in another room after that.
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#22 of 25 Old 05-08-2005, 02:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by girlndocs
Cat bites are nasty. If it was *real* biting, breaking the skin, I would be concerned, especially if it was repetitive. I don't think that's normal.


Here's a story for anyone who is interested:
My Mom & I are both cat lovers. Last year my mom got her 1st kitty in years as a companion after divorcing a man who hated cats & wouldn't let her have one. Horrible man. So, she was so excited to have this wonderful kitten. But the kitten started biting quite hard. She spents months & months training the kitten in every possible way. No cat either of us ever had acted like this one. Would attack and bite hard, breaking the skin (not scratching & just baring/applying teeth). As the cat got older, nearing a year, it got much worse. Finally the vet told her the cat had "attack syndrome" & they had done everything (short of super expensive psychotropic drugs!) they could do & that both she & the cat would be better off if the cat were euthenized. My Mom just couldn't do it. She was feeling so much grief over her divorce, wasted years of her life etc. One morning, the cat attacked her again, this time causing 2 deep puncture wounds in the back of her calf. By afternoon, she was in the ER getting high powered antibiotics. The swelling continued going on & peaked, reaching from her ankle to the back of her knee. Huge, hard, red, with streaks. Thankfully the antibiotics & all the other stuff we had her doing helped. There is still a hard spot at one of the punctures (6 months later). She is lucky she didn't have a huge chunk of flesh die. So, she did have the cat put to sleep. She still wasn't angry at the cat. She knew this was all the cat could do, it was just not an animal that could be a pet. And she didn't want anyone else to go thru this. And have it be her fault. Our animal companions are our responsibility. To have a dangerous animal is irresponsible.

Here is what I told her while she was bawling her eyes out after holding kitty for the last time while kitty was given a painless injection & drifted to sleep: That she loved her cat. That she did what she needed to do for that cat. She had loved it, she had taken wonderful care of it. That kitty had never suffered a day, had never gone hungry, had never been tortured or terrified or abused. That even tho kitty was no longer alive, kitty was never hurting, and that was thanks to her. I believe that. I believe that all is one & when one kitty (or doggy or person) dies then we all come together again as one, & when one is born, it is how that creature is treated during life that counts.

For those of you who have never known a cat like this, I hope you never do, or that better treatments for such cats come about. It is a hard hard situation.

I don't know if my story will help th OP or not, but I hope your kitty responds to the wonderful suggestions you were given.

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#23 of 25 Old 05-08-2005, 03:04 AM
 
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To any one who thinks cat scraches are harmless..........Cat scrach fever (Bartonella Henselae) can be very serious. Bartonella Henselae effects the lymphs and can dammage the lymphatic system long term. A recent study found that long term exposure to Bartonella Henselae is linked to lymphatic cancer. Most people don't see signs of the infection for weeks so they rarely associate the high fever and swollen lymphs with cat scratch or bites. If an anamal is to be apart of the family they must under stand "pride pecking order" and pets that want to be Alpha "cat or dog" will not understand where his/hers place is in the family "pride". If you lived with a family member that attcked you every day would you allow them to do it or put them in thier place and show them that is not accepted?
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#24 of 25 Old 05-08-2005, 11:12 AM
 
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Wow. ok, that's not what I was picturing. I never imagined such a feirce housecat.
good luck.
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#25 of 25 Old 05-08-2005, 11:28 AM
 
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EMT-mom is definitely right. I have permanent lymphatic damage in both my arms. My left one in particular (that's the one where I almost lost the hand) The damage is so bad that if I scratch a mosquito bite on my left arm and accidently break the skin, I have about a 50% chance of ending up in hospital with a nasty case of cellulitis. It was because of the damage from my cat bites that I had to quit working as a registered vet tech. I loved my job, but my doctor told me things were getting way too bad and would only get worse. Many of the worst infections I got came from bites that were no big deal--cat mouths are disgusting.

To be honest to everyone who says their cats bite them all the time--there was only 3 yrs where I was without a cat and I've never had a cat attack me at home just to "tussle" The cat we have now has never left a mark on anyone (except for the fact that there are no squirrels or mice left for a good square mile of here) I don't think your cats biting you on a regular basis is even remotely normal.
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