Research published in the Journal of Hand Surgery, found that one out of three people who sought treatment for a cat bite on the hand were hospitalized, reported USA Today. Of 193 total patients, two thirds of those hospitalized required surgery. Middle-aged women were the most common bite victims.
Mayo Clinic researchers said cat bites lead to infection because cat fangs penetrate the skin and force bacteria into joints and tissue.
“The bites lead to serious infections that can require multiple hospitalizations, antibiotics and sometimes surgery,” study researcher Dr. Brian Carlsen, an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic, told USA Today.
Though people tend to ignore cat bites because they are small, bites directly over the wrist or any joint have a higher risk of hospitalization because the hand and wrist are a breeding ground for bacteria, researchers found.
Researchers advise people to monitor cat bites for swelling and redness.
“It may look like a pin prick, but rule of thumb go see a doctor if a cat bites your hand,” Carlsen said.