Why Do Cat Scratches Itch and Swell?

Last updated: Dec 11, 2018 @ 8:57 am

If you’ve ever had a kitten, you may have asked the question, “Why do cat scratches itch and swell?” or even “Why do cat scratches sting?” 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.

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 bloodstream 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.

How to Treat Cat Scratches or Bites

Cat Scratch Treatment & First Aid

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.

How to Get Rid of Cat Scratch Scars?

Even after proper treatment, you may still end up with a little scar. There is no magic formula to completely get rid of it because it depends on your skin’s ability to heal. Some people heal faster than others, nature isn’t fair!

Why do Cat Scratches Itch and Swell? | Fluffy Kitty

However, we have found that using natural vegetable oil helps in that process. We highly recommend castor oil for that matter! This oil is amazing and helps with the production of collagen and elastin. Do check this secret remedy! 🙂

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 your cat. Therefore, a really good flea protection program is essential.

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

4 Comments

  1. becky said:

    The bacteria comment is freaking me out. Would’ve never guessed that my baby was carrying that much bacteria around with her.

    October 26, 2018
    Reply
    • No worries, lol! It’s just like the bacteria under our nails too – except theirs stings a little when we get scratched. 🙂

      October 29, 2018
      Reply
  2. Beth said:

    Thanks for this info. Your site had the best information on it. My kitten just scratched me and I was wondering if they like have poison on their nails or something cause I wondered why it itches so bad. Guess it’s just a natural reaction. Lol. No poison on or in the claws. By the way I got this kitten for my birthday she’s all black and named Iris. She just turned 6 months on Sept 18th.

    September 27, 2018
    Reply
    • Haha this made our day, we feel the same when we get scratches! They sometimes can itch so much, even though they’re so little. That’s a special day – Sept. 18th – it’s Paul’s birthday! Happy 6-months with your sweet Iris and thanks so much for your comment, Beth! xoxo

      September 27, 2018
      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *