It’s common to get occasionally scratched when playing with your pet. But, it’s essential to treat the wound and watch carefully for signs of infection.

Cat scratches may not be hazardous. However, certain conditions can increase the risk of contracting certain illnesses and other health risks.

Learn more about possible risks triggered by cat scratching and whether it is necessary to seek medical assistance.

The risks associated with cat scratching

While playing with your cat scratching your cat is inevitable. Johns Hopkins Medicine states that kittens less than 1-year-old are more susceptible to scratching; you may observe more scratching during play or naptime as your cat becomes accustomed to their movement.

Whatever age you are, scratch marks on cats can be more than just temporary discolored or red scratches. These scratches may cause pain or bleed and can get infected.

Domestic and feral cats could also transmit bacteria and viruses by scratching human skin. The potential health risks include:

  • cat scratch fever (also called cat-scratch-related disease)
  • tetanus
  • rabies

How do you take care of scratches on your cat at home?

  • The first step is to clean any scratches using detergent and warm water. Make sure to follow this guideline regardless of when it’s your cat. Apply pressure to the skin area dry using a clean, dry towel.
  • If the area is bleeding, apply gentle pressure with an uncontaminated gauze pad. It’s also possible applying a tiny amount of an antibiotic ointment that is available over the counter before covering the area with a sterilized bandage.
  • Be sure to examine the area carefully the next few times for signs of infection, like:
    • Increased swelling
    • drainage or pus
    • streaks of discolored or red that emanate from the scratch
    • Flu-like symptoms, such as headache, fever, and chills
  • Contact a doctor if suffering from any of these symptoms. Also, you should seek medical attention when you’ve recently been bit, scratched, or suffered an open wound that was licked by a pet that’s not your own.
  • To keep yourself secure in future from getting these scratches from your cat, you can use Zetpo cat nail caps to cover their sharp end nails.

Treating eye scratches

  • Sometimes, a cat can accidentally scratch you on the face, even your eyes. If this occurs, you must immediately wash out the affected eye using clean water or a saline solution. Be sure not to apply pressure to your eyes if there’s an object stuck in your eye in eye, like particles that have come from your cat’s claws.
  • The next step is to contact your doctor so that they can carefully look over your eye for damage. They might also prescribe medication if your eye injury becomes infected.
  • The American Academy of Ophthalmology claims that eye cuts tend to heal rapidly. However, if they are not treated, scratched eyes can lead to:
    • Eye discomfort
    • excessive tears
    • headache
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Vision blurry

About cat scratch fever

  • Cat-scratch fever is an infection with a bacterium called Bartonella henselae. Felines can carry the bacterium within their saliva. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as high as 40% of the Trusted Source of cats are carriers of this bacterium at one time or another; however, most of them don’t exhibit any symptoms.
  • At first, cats could catch this bacterium through fleas. Cats can transmit the bacterium to one another during fights between cats. The bacterium can be transferred to humans by the cat affected by scratching, biting, or licking an open wound.

The signs of cat-scratch-fever

  • If you suffer from cat scratch fever, The Trusted Source of the CDC states that you could experience the following signs within 3-14 days after the first incident:
    • bites or scratches that gradually turn redder, discolored, and more inflamed
    • headaches, fever along with other signs of the flu
    • Body skin
    • swollen lymph nodes
    • excess fatigue and weakness

Treatment for cat scratch fever

  • Cat scratch fever is treated with antibiotics and at-home wound treatment to alleviate symptoms and avoid any complications.
  • It is crucial to understand that the signs of cat scratch fever are similar to those caused by other diseases. This includes tetanus which causes the Clostridium Tetani bacteria.
  • It’s crucial to consult an experienced doctor when you’re suffering or have any infection signs to ensure that you are taken care of. Getting cat scratch fever could also be greater when you’ve had an animal that fleas have infested.
  • According to the Trusted Source of the CDC, the complications of cat scratch fever are more likely when you’re younger than 14 or have a weak immune system. Although it’s not common, the possible causes include:
    • brain injury
    • Other internal organ damage
    • Bacillary angiomatosis, a progressive skin disorder, results in a red or discolored lesion that is raised and has the outer rings to be scaly.
    • eyelids, which are red and irritated, and flu-like symptoms

About Rabies

  • It is an extremely dangerous viral disease that results from being bitten by an animal infected. Although it isn’t common in domesticated felines in the United States, cases of rabies trusted Source are reported among felines more often than other domestic pets.
  • An infected cat may present sudden behavioral changes, including unusual aggression. Other signs include loss of appetite, control of muscles, and paralysis.
  • Rabid cats are more likely to spread the virus to humans via their saliva through bites. There’s less chance that a cat infected with the virus will transmit the virus via scratches. The initial symptoms of humans resemble the flu symptoms and can be seen weeks or even months later, as per the CDC Trusted Source.
  • If you think you’ve had an interaction with a rabid cat, you must seek out emergency medical attention even if the deadly disease doesn’t cause any symptoms. A quick treatment with vaccines and rabies antibodies can prevent life-threatening complications.

How can you avoid the dangers associated with scratches from cats?

  • You can minimize the risk to your health from scratches from your cat by:
    • Cleaning and caring for injuries that may occur during any interactions
    • Avoiding rough play, particularly when kittens are inclined to scratch
    • keep your face off your cat while playing to avoid eye injury
    • cover any open wounds that you may have so the cat isn’t able to bite them
    • setting up an indoor-only space for your cat
    • caring for wild cats or other pets that aren’t yours
    • ensuring that your cat is up to the latest on vaccinations, including vaccinations against rabies
    • keeping up-to-date with your vaccinations, which include boosters for tetanus
    • ensuring that your cat receives the proper treatment for fleas, as suggested by your veterinarian


  • A few scratches can seem like an inevitable aspect of being a cat owner. However, you must always wash any wounds you suffer from playing with your furry friends. Because some scratches can develop into infections, you must recognize any suspicious symptoms and consult an expert immediately.
  • While it’s difficult to completely avoid scratching your cat in the presence of a playful cat in your home, there are steps you can take to keep your pet safe from any complications. They include regular cleaning, avoiding feral animals, and making sure you’re up to date with the recommended vaccinations.


Your skin and body are just as different as you are. We strive to provide you with accurate, safe and professionally verified information through our articles and social media handles, but always consult your doctor before trying any home remedies, hacks, or fitness tricks.