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View Full Version : Do cats have a kind of poison in their claws?


fishbicycle
11-30-2007, 10:27 AM
I have just had my kitty on my lap. While I was typing, she reached up to paw my arm ("Hey! Pet me some more!"). She just barely tapped me, but her claws left two tiny marks that are now swelling up slightly. One was a dot that now looks like a mosquito bite, and the other is a welt with a line down the center. They itch. Does anyone know what causes that?

ignis_glaciesque
11-30-2007, 10:29 AM
Bacteria and other gunk accumulated under a cat's claws. If it infects, it could cause cat scratch fever.

Paul in Qatar
11-30-2007, 10:30 AM
I would suppose kitty feet are pretty filthy. Further you may be developing an allergy.

fishbicycle
11-30-2007, 10:33 AM
I don't know if it makes much difference, but this is an indoor cat. I'm not sure how filthy her feet could be, never having stepped in anything dirtier than cat litter. Anything's possible, I guess. She only grazed my arm in the lightest way, yet I have marks now.

Telperien
11-30-2007, 10:36 AM
I found a Staff Report (https://academicpursuits.us/mailbag/mcatpoison.html) about whether cats have poison in their claws. It says no. I surmise that cats are just not very sanitary creatures. Every time I've been scratched by a cat, the scratch has always become infected. Indoor, outdoor, it didn't matter. I'm pretty sure that I'm not allergic to cats, though.

JustThinkin'
11-30-2007, 10:37 AM
Sounds like you're just sensitive. You might be slightly allergic and breaking the skin cause you problems that you won't normally see.

Also - try this: Use your thumb or fingernail to make a line on your arm. Use enough pressure to feel it but not enough to hurt yourself. Does it make a welt? If it does, you have a sensitivity that is sometimes associated with Raynaud's disease (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raynaud%27s_disease) and some other skin oddities.

aktep
11-30-2007, 10:40 AM
Poison? No, but cat's claws are dirty. They can be vectors for Bartonella (cat scratch fever). They dig around their poop in the litter box. They walk on dirt outside.

CalMeacham
11-30-2007, 10:45 AM
If they did, I'd have been dead long ago. Our cats play enthusiastically, and even Lotta, who is always careful to keep her claws retracted, can still give me scratches that draw blood if her claws have gotten too long.

hajario
11-30-2007, 10:49 AM
I don't know if it makes much difference, but this is an indoor cat. I'm not sure how filthy her feet could be, never having stepped in anything dirtier than cat litter. .

You mean that stuff kept in a box with urine and feces?

Long Time Lurker
11-30-2007, 10:52 AM
I'm allergic to cats. When the allergy first started developing, that welt and itch upon being scratched were the only noticeable symptoms. It's gotten worse -- now their general presence causes me breathing issues.

For the record, I do not have sensitive skin.

mangeorge
11-30-2007, 11:12 AM
You mean that stuff kept in a box with urine and feces?
My vet aide said it's better to use lumping litter, and to scoop the nasties out completely with a shovel-type scoop and not strain the lump. What I'm trying to say is, pick up the lump and the surrounding litter and toss it all. Every day. Takes 2 minutes.
A well used scratch post should help keep the claws cleaner, I'd think.
Please don't ask me what I think about declawing, aka toe amputation.
Peace,
mangeorge

MrSquishy
11-30-2007, 01:19 PM
I'd just like to thank you all a hell of a lot for "The Nuge'" earworm. :mad:

Beware of Doug
11-30-2007, 01:30 PM
I'm allergic to cats. When the allergy first started developing, that welt and itch upon being scratched were the only noticeable symptoms. It's gotten worse -- now their general presence causes me breathing issues.

For the record, I do not have sensitive skin.Kitties must accumulate dander under the claws during grooming rituals.

mlees
11-30-2007, 01:33 PM
You yourself could be bringing in the icky stuff from the outside.

You track in small amounts of whatever you stepped in the parking lot, and your cat now has minute amounts on her paws. You get someone sneezing nearby and a few germs end up sitting on your skin.

Cat breaks skin, that icky stuff now has an easier access to your insides.

spingears
11-30-2007, 01:35 PM
You wouldn't think of rubbing an open wound or even a small scratch agiainst the floor, even if just scrubbed, would you? Treat any wound as if it were inflicted by a dirty agent. Wash it thoroughl with antiseptic soap, treat with peroxide, anti-biotic, etc. etc.per standard first aid procedures!

Why take chances with an infection? :dubious:

Giles
11-30-2007, 01:39 PM
Very few mammals are venomous or poisonous (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venomous_mammals), and cats are not among them.

bouv
11-30-2007, 01:39 PM
If it infects, it could cause cat scratch fever.

Could and did, in my case. I was...10? 11? Around there. Got a nasty infection in a lymph node near my groin. Eventually, I had to have surgery to have it removed since it swelled to almost the size of a golfball and didn't respond to antibiotics.

Also, it hurt like hell. :mad:

chappachula
11-30-2007, 01:40 PM
I have just had my kitty on my lap. ..but her claws left two tiny marks that are now swelling up slightly.
how quickly did this happen? You make it sound like only a few minutes.
If it was an infection (as suggested in several posts about dirty feet from the litter box), wouldn't it take a day or more for the bacteria to multiply and affect your body?

fishbicycle
11-30-2007, 01:55 PM
how quickly did this happen? You make it sound like only a few minutes.It was only a matter of minutes from when she touched my arm to when I noticed the reaction and started the thread. No blood was drawn, so I don't think I have cause to be alarmed that I may get a fecal-matter-borne infection.

Chefguy
11-30-2007, 01:56 PM
Please don't ask me what I think about declawing, aka toe amputation.
Peace,
mangeorge

:rolleyes: ::checks cat's toes; all are present, sans claws::

WhyNot
11-30-2007, 02:01 PM
It's a histamine response, also known colloquially as "an allergy". I get them from cats, pine trees and other evergreens and some dogs. My cat and dog reactions are mild enough that I rarely bother treating them, since they're topical. If a cat breaks skin or a piece of fur lands just right and penetrates the skin or sticks into a pore, then I'll itch like mad and swell in that spot. If I notice it happening (like last week when I was pilling the neighbor's cat and I ended up with a broken off claw in my hand for my efforts), a Benadryl taken ASAP will stave off the worst of my symptoms.

Pine trees, OTOH, make me miserable. We've switched to an artificial tree, my kid decorates it (because the oil/sap on the ornaments from natural trees 10 years ago is enough to trigger it) AND I take Benadryl anyway and that keeps me only mostly miserable while the decorating is going on. That one might be enough to be called an actual allergy, as it causes some airway constriction. Bad news.

Inner Stickler
11-30-2007, 02:12 PM
:rolleyes: ::checks cat's toes; all are present, sans claws::Declawing involves the removal of the distal phalanx which is the last bone at the end of a cat's paw. It is not unreasonable to liken that to the amputation of a finger at the first joint.

mangeorge
11-30-2007, 02:18 PM
:rolleyes: ::checks cat's toes; all are present, sans claws::
declawing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declawing)
Maybe you're thinking of nail clipping?

Ludovic
11-30-2007, 03:17 PM
I'd just like to thank you all a hell of a lot for "The Nuge'" earworm. :mad:I patted myself on the back when someone in an online chatroom got CSF and I somehow resisted the reference for the week or so he was ill.

panache45
11-30-2007, 03:47 PM
I'm not sure how filthy her feet could be, never having stepped in anything dirtier than cat litter.
Next time you're getting ready to prepare a meal, run the food through the litter box for a minute or so. Or better yet, next time you cut yourself . . .

Mangetout
11-30-2007, 03:56 PM
My sister was scratched by an animal (a dog, but it makes no difference in this case, as I'll explain) and it developed a serious infection. If the red swelling around the wound starts to spread or 'track', get thee to a doctor with huge urgency. I think you have OTC topical antibiotics available where you live, don't you? If so, I'd slap some of that on it as soon as possible.

Now, the reason the wound got infected in my sister's case is not anything to do with the animal, it's because without thinking, she wiped it down with her own saliva and the infection came from there - there are bacteria many of us carry in our mouth nose and throat with impunity that will do us great harm if they get under the skin elsewhere on our bodies.

fishbicycle
11-30-2007, 04:11 PM
Thanks for the information, everyone. The inflammation, such as it was, has subsided. Now they're little, red marks on my arm. It's happened before, but I've never thought to start a thread about it.

About the cat litter thing, my wife and I carved up the household duties nine years ago. She does the cat litter. Two or three times a day, maybe four. I know it's not the most sanitary thing, but it is kept clean.

So, what do you suppose it is on the tips of her claws that could produce that reaction in me, without my actually having an open wound? I don't get any kind of adverse reaction from petting her.

I have antihistamines at home, and also some antibiotics, in case I need them. In this case, I don't think I will.

WhyNot
11-30-2007, 06:01 PM
Most cat allergies are caused by urine, dander (dead skin cells) or dried cat spit. cite (http://acaai.org/public/advice/pets.htm) There's certainly lots of dried cat spit on kitty's claws, since they lick them all the time for bathing.

Wile E
11-30-2007, 06:31 PM
Dang, beat by one post. My bet is that it's from dried cat saliva on the claws, the cat breaks the skin even a little and you get some of this foreign substance basically injected under your skin and you have a reaction.

Bacterial infections are not instantaneous unless your cat is really a komodo dragon.

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