What is Cat Scratch Fever?

Playing with kittens is a lot of fun. Young or old, there’s a child-like frolic in the heart of kittens that we all want to be a part of.  A kitten will stalk, pounce, chase, tumble, bite and scratch just about anything that moves come play time, and especially their owner.  As natural predators, this type of ‘mock aggression’ is never intended to hurt or harm anyone, although it often can.

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One thing to be aware of as a kitten owner is known as “Cat-Scratch Disease” (CSD).  Also called “Cat Scratch Fever” since one of the symptoms of infection is a high fever.  According to the Center for Disease Control:

“Cat-scratch disease (CSD) is a bacterial infection spread by cats. The disease spreads when an infected cat licks a person’s open wound, or bites or scratches a person hard enough to break the surface of the skin.”

I’ll never forget the first time a kitten latched onto my arm with all four paws/claws and a mouthful of teeth for my hand.  I learned quickly never to ‘play’ with a kitten using my bare hand. Unless of course, you want your little fluff ball to cling onto your skin with their sharp claws! The good news is, it’s not likely your kitten will scratch you and you will become infected with CSD unless they have recently had fleas.

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“Cats can get infected…from flea bites and flea dirt (droppings) getting into their wounds. By scratching and biting at the fleas, cats pick up the infected flea dirt under their nails and between their teeth.”

When we engage with these natural predators, we have to keep ourselves on guard not to allow them to play too aggressively.   If you get scratched by your kitten and the skin is broken, quickly wash the area with anti-bacterial soap and warm water, and cover with a bandage.  Keep in mind that most scratches although painful, are usually harmless when it comes to infection. The chance of being infected by a scratch from kitty is increased if your kitty has recently had a bad case of fleas.



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The article continues about some of the potential signs and symptoms to be aware of:

“A person with CSD may also have a fever, headache, poor appetite, and exhaustion. Later, the person’s lymph nodes closest to the original scratch or bite can become swollen, tender, or painful.”

You can avoid being scratched by learning a few training techniques that will teach them to play nice as kittens.  Our Sadie remains docile with us, but hostile with any fly, bug or moving laser beam that crosses her path.  We never declawed her and now at 6 years old, she still plays gently with us due to early training as a kitten.  We recommend using a cat toy to entertain and play with your kitten, and not your hand. Get a scratch pad and teach them early where it’s okay to scratch and claw.


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Article Source: Center For Disease Control
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