Freakity Frack, or Catbite!

Here’s a little Public Service Announcement, so if you are not so inclined to follow my little rant, just move along.  Nothing to see here, people.


The subject is rabies vaccinations, or in this case, lack of a current one.  In the veterinarian’s office where I work, we have a reminder system, like most offices, in which we send out reminder postcards to our clients to REMIND them to update their pet’s vaccinations.  It’s an ohsoclever little system involving a piece of card stock, some ink in the printer, and a postcard stamp.  Hardly brain surgery, except unless we are reminding the owner to bring their pet in for brain surgery.  Generally, we don’t encourage brain surgery, but there is always the special owner who perhaps does need a brain transplant themselves.  Hey, take my brain, I’m not using it right now.

This fascinating saga began yesterday afternoon when a woman presented her cat wrapped in a blankie, not in a crate.  Even though there were dogs in the lobby, the womanwithcat waltzes in without an appointment.  (Is there a catcrate thief in this town?  Is that why no one uses a cat containment system?  You just wouldn’t believe the number of cats that show up crateless.)  It seems that the cat hadn’t been eating and wasn’t feeling well, and the exam showed that the cat had some fleas and some flea allergy-type dermatitis. (Remember Precious Paisley?)  The paper file also showed the cat was due for a rabies vaccination, but the vet elected to decline the rabies vaccination because he says he doesn’t like to give a vaccination to an animal that appears unwell, in case of vaccine reaction.  I, however, did not know that the rabies vaccination was not up-to-date because I was diddling around with something else in another part of the office. 

So the vet elects to give the cat a bath to combat the fleas and to soothe her scabby skin.  I assisted, and the cat was bathed without incident.  The vet wrapped her in a towel and placed her into a stainless steel condo typical of the type found in many veterinary offices, while I fetched some more dry towels.  Picture this:  little kitty has been subjected to the indignity of a bath, then placed soaking wet into a metal box which is shiny, cold, and loud.  When I attempted to retrieve a wet towel from around the cat, she bit.  Not too hard, but hard enough to break the skin, and therein lies the issue.

The state of SC says that all domestic dogs and cats must be vaccinated yearly for rabies.  If a bite happens and medical help is sought, the Department of Health and Environmental Control must be contacted, and the animal has to be quarantined and observed for signs of rabies for a period of time, usually about 10 days.  Truly, when an animal has been vaccinated with a one-year rabies vaccination, the vaccination does not cease to work 365 days later.  It is claimed by some that the vaccination is still at work years later, and the case has been argued that people don’t get vaccinations every year, right?  We are vaccinated as children and then – case closed.  No more vaccinations, unless your tetanus shot is outdated and you step on a rusty nail or perhaps place your hand into a rusty cat’s mouth.  Just sayin’.

So immediately after a bite, cat or dog, or even person, you stroll to a sink and turn on the hot water and place your bitten part under the HOT running water, just as hot as you can stand it.  Your goal is to get the blood to flow out, not in.  Do not use cold, because this will cause your flesh to contract and seal in any bacteria, germs, dirt, and general catmouth yukkiness.  Blood flowing out flushes the wound. 

So I squeezed my bitten hand, making sure that all the puncture wounds bled out.  Then I sanitized the wounds, and reported the bite to the office manager, who is the vet’s wife, and just happens to be wound a little bit too tight, and she started panting “rabies, rabies, rabies”, which certainly made things. just. right.

Today she insisted that I go to the doctor, where I was able to receive a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (a tdap) in my arm muscle.  (I was greatly relieved that I was able to receive the vaccination in the back of my arm and not some other part of my posterior since I was pretty sure I wasn’t wearing the “good underwear” that all of our mothers told us to wear when growing up, just in case we were in a car wreck and the emergency workers would see our shabby underwear and know that our mothers didn’t love us and take good care of us.  Yes, I was actually concerned about that for a brief moment.)  The doctor was encouraged that I did not have pain or swelling or fever in my arm or elsewhere (most certainly not in my posterior).  I did tell my new friend the doctor, who told me that he had been practicing for 55 years, that my dog, Mr. Packett, has a prescription of antibiotic that I started taking the evening before, and the doctorman said *that’s good* (really, when has a doctor ever told you it was good to self-medicate), but that he wanted to start me on a stronger antibiotic.   He said that he didn’t like animal bites, as though I did, and I defended the little critters by saying, “They bite for a reason.”  The cat was a nice cat, and she was an “owned” cat, not a stray without a medical history, and she had been vaccinated for rabies before. 

Here’s the lesson I’d like for you to take away from this.  If the cat were to die during the quarantine period FOR WHATEVER REASON, her head would be removed and sent to the state lab so that her brain could be examined for signs of rabies.  Even though you know and I know that she has no signs of rabies and she is surely not rabid, the protocol demands that her head would be removed from her body and sent off for laboratory study.  I would venture to say that most animal owners do not want that to happen. 

So, hey, here’s a thought.  Don’t ignore the reminder postcard, and better yet, stay cognizant about when your pet’s vaccinations are due, or, even better, if you’re not sure when they’re due, call your vet’s office.  They’ll know. 

Please do this for me, or I’m going to have to concentrate more on the state of my underwear.

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One Response to “Freakity Frack, or Catbite!”

  1. Freakity Frack, Part 2; Or, Dogbite! « Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] Ruthrawls's Blog Just another weblog « Freakity Frack, or Catbite! […]


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