Do Cat’s Claws Contain Poison? What You Should Know

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Your cat’s claws do not contain poison, but they can host bacteria like B. henselae. Commonly, a cat scratch will not cause any significant damage to a human, particularly if you ensure that you clean the wound thoroughly with warm soap and water.


Continue reading to discover what germs and bacteria are present in a cat’s claw and whether or not a scratch can cause harm to a human.


What Is Contained In A Cat’s Claws?


Here’s the good news; cats are especially clean animals who are excellent at maintaining a hygiene regime. For this reason, their claws are unlikely to contain any significant traces of fecal matter or dead animals.


But, their claws do contain bacteria such as B. henselae, which their tongues can not cleanout. And this bacteria can transmit to humans, causing cat scratch disease. Don’t worry just yet; cat-scratch disease is rare and unlikely to occur after a small scratch from your feline.


Do Cat’s Claws Contain Poison?


No, a cat’s claws do not contain any form of poison.


What Is Cat Scratch Disease?


CSD – or cat scratch disease – is a bacterial infection transmitted from a cat’s scratch, bite, or lick. If your cat scratches hard enough to break through your skin, it may deposit some of the bacteria B. henselae, which can cause an infection around the wound.


Symptoms of Cat Scratch Disease.


  • The wounded area appears red and swollen.
  • Lesions appear around the wound site – these may be raised or contain pus.
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Tiredness and exhaustion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes


Prevention is often better than treatment; whenever a cat scratches or bites you, wash the area thoroughly with soap and warm water. If you do develop any symptoms of cat scratch disease, talk to your doctor immediately.


Do All Cats Carry B. henselae?


Around 40% of cats carry Bartonella henselae, though they will not show any signs of illness from this bacteria. Kittens under a year old are the most likely to possess this bacteria, and unfortunately, they are the most likely to bite and scratch humans.


Can Cat Scratches Make You Sick?


Yes, cat scratches can make you sick because the claws may contain B. henselae.


In addition, a cat scratch is like any other form of cut and can quickly become infected if exposed to the wrong germs or bacteria. The best way to treat a cat scratch is like any other cut. Clean the wound regularly and check for any signs of infection.


How Serious Are Cat Scratches?


On the whole, a cat scratch is like any other scratch – it’s not likely to cause any life-threatening illness; or even any symptoms beyond a slight discomfort.


On the other hand, if the scratch becomes infected, you look at an entirely different outcome. And if not treated appropriately, it can lead to significant issues down the track, such as eye, brain, or heart issues.


But remember, only 40% of cats carry B. henselae. And that is only at some point in their lives, not for the entire duration.


For a cat scratch to become severe, you’d have to be unlucky enough to come across a cat inflicted with B henselae, have the cat wound you deeply enough to penetrate the skin, and then not manage to wash the remnants of the bacteria from your wound.


Cat scratch disease is not something to worry about on a day-to-day basis. If you do notice anything unusual around a cat scratch, you need to consult with a doctor immediately.


Are There Any Chemicals In Cat’s Claws?


Cats do have chemicals in their claws, but not of the poisonous variety. Instead, their claws carry pheromones to mark the environment around them. Humans do not need to worry about these pheromones penetrating their skin as they will not cause any harm.


Should I Purchase Antibiotics For A Cat Scratch?


No, you don’t need antibiotics to treat a cat scratch. Even if you were unlucky enough to contract cat scratch disease, your doctor is unlikely to prescribe antibiotics to you. If it’s only a minor scratch, soap and warm water are plenty sufficient to deal with the wound.


However, if you have antibiotics on hand, it won’t do any harm to apply them; just don’t make a special purchase.


How Can I Prevent My Cat From Scratching Me?


There is no guaranteed way to prevent a cat from scratching you, but there are some things you can do to minimize the risk.


Firstly, purchase a cat tower, scratching pole, or scratchboard that they can use to satisfy their scratching needs. In addition, give your cat some space when they show signs that they don’t want to be fussed.


These include dilated eyes, a flicking tail, or flattened ears. If your cat does bite you, say “no” in a firm voice. Avoid shouting or any physical punishment for your cat, as this can increase their fear and agitation, making them more likely to lash out.


Is It Safer To Declaw My Cat?


No, definitely not. The chances of you becoming ill from a cat scratch are minimum, whereas the chances of your cat being affected by declawing are huge. Declawing may be legal, but many consider this a form of abuse.


Imagine taking away your teeth or nails – how awful would that be? Well, it’s the same for cats, and many experience pain and infections following their surgery. Not only does your cat physically suffer from declawing, but it has a hugely negative mental impact too.


If you declaw a cat, you have essentially taken away its primary form of defense. This causes tremendous feline stress and the feeling that they can non longer look after themselves adequately.


Final Thoughts.


Cat’s claws do not contain poison, and on the whole, a scratch from your feline is unlikely to do any real damage. However, some cats’ claws possess traces of B.henselae, which can be severely harmful to humans.


If your cat scratches you, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water and avoid letting your feline lick it. While this will be sufficient in most cases, ensure that you consult with a doctor should any symptoms of cat scratch disease begin to appear.


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