Why Do Cat Scratches Itch and Swell?

If you’ve ever had a Kitten, you may have asked the question, “Why do cat scratches itch and swell?” Here is the easy answer. The itching and swelling that comes quickly after a scratch is part of your own body’s reaction to any damage done to your skin. But it could be more…

In this article:

  • It Could Be Nothing
  • Or a Nasty Bacterial Infection
  • Where Does the Infection Originate?
  • My Cat Isn’t Sick!
  • How to Treat Cat Scratches or Bites
  • Final Thoughts: Why Do Cat Scratches Itch and Swell

It Could be Nothing

The most common scratches are superficial.

Simply put, they are thin lines of broken skin, much like a paper cut but less regular.

Similarly, it is not significant enough to cause your body to produce endorphin to suppress the pain and thus they sting more than it seems they should for how small they are.

Or a Nasty Bacterial Infection

Well, sit down pet parents. We have some bad news for you.

Even though your cat spends much of the day bathing, they can still be carrying around some nasty bacteria. The bacteria is Bartonella henselae and about 40 percent of cats have it at one point or another in their lives.

They can very easily share it with their people. Kittens, who seem to do the lion’s share of scratching and biting at play, are most likely to have (and share) this infection.

Why do cat scratches itch and swell? | Fluffy Kitty

Where Does the Infection Originate?

Flea bites, flea ‘dirt,’ or the scratches and/or bites of an infected cat cause this infection. The bacteria live under the cat’s claws where flea droppings collect when Kitty scratches. As she cleans her paws, she ingests it.

The infectious disease travels through the blood stream and eventually into your cat’s saliva where it comes into contact with you. However cute as it seems when Kitty licks your scratched skin, you might be asking for trouble if you allow her to continue!

But My Cat Isn’t Sick!

Unfortunately, finding and curing this condition is difficult.

These bacteria can be present in cats or kittens even when they appear to be otherwise healthy.

Since it is kittens who are most likely to have the Bartonella henselae infection, they present the biggest risk to humans.

Unfortunately, these frisky fluff-balls with their needle claws and sharp little teeth can spread the disease to their people as they play. This disease is called Cat Scratch Disease, or CSD.

Why do Cat Scratches Itch and Swell? | Fluffy Kitty

How to Treat Cat Scratches or Bites

If you’ve been badly bitten or scratched by your cat, wash the wound carefully with soap and water.

Treat your injury with an over-the-counter topical antiseptic and cover it with a sterile dressing until the wound heals.

Developing pain or redness at the wound site within two weeks of the scratch could mean trouble. If this happens or if you develop a fever, or see swelling in lymph nodes, seek medical help.

Final Thoughts: Why Do Cat Scratches Itch and Swell ?

If your skin is punctured or torn by your kitty’s claws it might itch or swell.

Don’t be alarmed as it might just be a normal skin reaction. But, if you develop an infection or other symptoms following such an injury, you might have CSD. Seek medical help.

We conclude that the best answer for your fur baby is to keep fleas away from his skin. Therefore, a really good flea protection program is essential.

Additionally, keeping your cat inside and away from other cats that might not have such careful parents is also a good plan. Ultimately, the surest answer to cat scratch issues is to practice good first aid when Kitty gets rambunctious.

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