The Cat Bite

How a cat bite taught me that I needed to make some changes in my life now that I am living with a chronic illness. Crohn's disease medication suppressed my immune system and made me susceptible to a very serious infection that could have been life threatening.

Along my Crohn’s disease journey, I can tell you I have been forced to take a closer look at myself and how I live my life. I’ve learned to really listen to my body and become more mindful of how my life choices effect it. Often times I have to stop and really consider the tiniest of decisions before acting on them. Something I touch on in my blog posting, All The Small Things. But some experiences need to occur for us to truly get the message loud and clear about our body’s limitations, so you know to be careful in the future! I want to share one of those experiences with you today.

One night my grandmother’s cat got out of the house. Obviously she couldn’t go searching for him and my brother wasn’t having any luck. So, I came over to help. Turns out the cat was just in the neighbors yard. My brother & the cat are known to “not like each other”, so I figured I should try to grab him. So, I went to pick him up like I had done many times before. Except this time, the cat went straight for my hand. He bit down on my hand 3 times and then locked his jaw there. This all happened so very fast, I didn’t even have time to think or really understand what was going on. However, I managed to very literally rip his head off of my hand. Since he was being a total butthead and wanted to stay outside THAT badly, we decided to just let him. So we started walking back to the house. It was at this time that I felt blood start to stream down from my hand. It didn’t make any sense to me, because my hand didn’t really hurt. I thought maybe the cat had scratched me or broken skin a little, but not enough to warrant that much blood. Remember I was outside in the dark so I couldn’t see my hand, I could only feel the blood dripping off of it.

Back at Grandma’s house, I finally got my hand under some light and realized there were  actually multiple deep puncture wounds, not just a scratch or two. So, I washed my hand off, but I was actually bleeding profusely and couldn’t get the blood to calm down or clot. So my brother helped me get some bandaids on it.

When I arrived back at my house, my hand already looked swollen & started aching! Not gonna lie– I started crying hysterically. It hit me that I may have actually done some irreparable damage to my hand and it might never be the same. My hubby calmed me down and re-bandaged my hand with some sterile pads and gauze. Guys, I had a mummy hand! No lie! I figured the swelling was just because it was a fresh wound and needed a little time to heal. The next day my hand was actually quite painful and it looked and felt infected. Reluctantly, I called my doctor and they got me in immediately!!! Which was surprising to me, it was just a bite, what the heck? Once I got there, the doctor sat me down and told me that cats have all kinds of nasty bacteria in their mouth, so infection is almost a given if it bites you. That bacteria transferred into my hand when I was bitten. What’s more concerning is that my immune system is suppressed and I’m prone to infection due to the medication I’m on for Crohn’s disease. My doctor knew that and realized that my situation was serious. When he looked at my hand, I saw his eyes widen and a look of fear/panic went over his face. He was very genuinely concerned for me. Yikes!! So needless to say he gave me some antibiotics and he wanted me to follow up in a few days and keep him in the loop if anything else occurs.


I will never forget the look on my doctor’s face that day! I didn’t realize exactly how much danger I was in, until I saw my doctor’s face. Yes he said “serious infection” but I didn’t know just how serious until his reaction. It could have been a life threatening situation if I hadn’t sought proper care.

Being the proactive patient that I am, I also called my GI specialist to let them know what happened. Obviously it’s not a gastro-related issue but I figured it was still a good idea that they know about a possible complication should things get worse. Just better to be safe than sorry, right? The nurse on the phone immediately reacted the same way, with utter surprise and concern. She also wanted me to keep them in the loop. Just wow! I didn’t even think that something bad would happen. I’d picked that cat up many times before and I’ve survived many a cat scratch in my lifetime…pre-Crohn’s. I grew up with cats since I was a tiny one and never ever knew this.

When I followed up a few days later, my doctor took one look at my hand and immediately exhaled a sigh of relief! He expressed how that was a really close call, and how it could have been really bad if I hadn’t come in (which I had honestly considered doing). Shew!! Guys, I truly dodged a bullet!

This whole situation was a very serious wake up call for me! I realized I can’t just do the same things that I used to do and expect to be okay. You can’t expect a normal body reaction from an abnormal body. I have an increased risk for infection, a compromised immune system & low blood counts, that’s a fact! It cannot be ignored.

My hand healed up very nicely, but I am left with a number of barely visible scars (I know they are there). To this day, when I look down at them I think– “Jana, You have limits. And that’s okay! Just don’t do anything stupid, alright?” Ha ha ha! Funny because it’s true! It’s a reminder to keep myself in check, be careful and make smarter choices. I mean let’s get real–In retrospect it was not a brilliant idea to try and pick up a cat that was outside in an unfamiliar environment, possibly hunting a mouse. Especially since the little booger of a cat showed up right at grandma’s door an hour later! Yeah…that happened. *insert eye roll here*

So I learned a very important lesson from that scary bite incident. I suppose some may look at it in a depressing manner and think, “Oh great, another limit! Is there anything I CAN do?” But I choose to see things a different way. If it keeps me safe, I’m okay with putting up boundaries. Even if that means I can’t cater to that side of my personality that always wants to be helpful and please people. My health and safety needs to come first. Is it hard? Yes. Is it an adjustment? Yes. Do I feel bad when I have to tell people “no”? Yes, absolutely I feel bad. But it gets a little easier with time and I know I’m making the best choice I can for myself, that is more important. And limits don’t mean that you can’t do anything, it just means, you only have 2 beers instead of 3. You go to bed at 10pm instead of midnight. You only eat 10 chips instead of the whole bag….*cough* JANA!! Ha ha ha!

My point is–it doesn’t have to be seen as such a negative thing. You have to make a choice how you want to look at things. 

I hope you learned something from this little story-time with Jana! It can be hard to accept that you have to make changes in your life because of your disease. But please know that we all struggle with it in the beginning and we find a way to keep going. If you have found this to be true, please open up and share in the comments so others can benefit from more experiences–

Have you ever had a wakeup call along your journey? Something that kicked you into high gear to make changes?


Published by Jana Rosenberger

I blog about my life with Crohn's disease and all things quality-of-life. I don't sugar coat this journey but I do find a way to laugh!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: