August 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Aggression is a serious behavioral issue. Cat bites can lead to severe injuries, and hence any bite needs to be taken seriously. Aggressive behavior can be seen in cats of any breed, size, age, or gender, and it can stem from many different motivations. The most common include:

Cat bites can include bites to familiar or stranger animals. When cats bite other cats or dogs, fear is the first reason that needs to be considered. Most cats are fearful of dogs or even other cats when they are not introduced in a gradual and safe way. Territorial, play, and status or dominance aggression should be considered between cats, but is less likely the cause when biting dogs.

Monitor cat bites closely. Cat bites are usually small punctures and seem to heal or seal over quickly. However, the bite causes bacteria to enter the skin and can lead to serious infections, and possibly even abscesses. Deep puncture wounds can also penetrate joints. Older animals or immunocompromised individuals are particularly at risk. They should always receive immediate medical attention should a bite occur. See a veterinarian as soon as possible in order to have the injury properly evaluated and treated. Antibiotics are often needed.

If the bite breaks the skin, your cat will be observed for 10 days to rule out rabies as a cause. For this reason, all cats should receive regular rabies vaccines.

This document created by the San Francisco SPCA with a grant from Maddie's Fund®.