A 6-year-old in East Yorkshire, England, was playing with her beloved pet cat “Tigger” when tragedy struck and he accidentally bit her, leaving her with a serious soft tissue infection that could have quickly turned life-threatening.
“Alice went to throw his ball and as he ran to get it she did too,” Chantelle Hudson, Alice’s mother, said, according to The Sun. “As she got hold of it first, he went for it and bit her arm instead of the ball. He wasn’t being vicious, just playing.”
Hudson said she knew her daughter was injured because she heard her yell, and then the cat ran off. She said she ran her daughter’s wounds under cold water and put antiseptic on it. Due to worsening pain, two days later Alice landed in the Hull Royal Infirmary’s trauma unit, where Hudson was informed that four of the five puncture wounds had become infected.
“Alice was screaming in agony and wouldn’t let anyone touch her arm so they knew it was infected – that and some of the puncture wounds were oozing pus,” Hudson said, according to The Sun. “When they told me they had to operate I felt sick.”
Doctors reportedly told Hudson that Alice had contracted a bacterial infection called Pasteurella, which is a species that lives in the mouths of cats and dogs. According to HealthyChildren.org, the bacteria can enter the body through a break in the skin such as a bite from the animal or a scratch.
Symptoms typically appear after an incubation period of about 24 hours, and may result in swelling, redness, warmth and tenderness of the skin. Fever and chills may also occur. Complications can include arthritis, osteomyelitis or tenosynovitis. It can also lead to pneumonia, urinary tract infections, meningitis, blood infections or eye infections.
Alice underwent an hour-long surgery to remove the damaged tissue from her arm and she then was placed on antibiotics for 48 hours. She was sent home on Aug. 10 and put on a two-week course of antibiotics, according to The Sun.
“When Alice came home from the hospital, Tigger kept going up to her with his head down like he knew she hadn’t been at home because of him,” Hudson said, according to the news outlet. “He wouldn’t leave her alone and kept going up to her and lying next to her.”
Tigger eventually won her over, and they now play under closer supervision. Hudson said Alice’s wounds have healed well.
“When she was in [surgery] I was thinking about what to do about Tigger but I realized that what happened was a genuine accident,” Hudson said, according to The Sun. “He’s not vicious, it would have been totally different if he’d attacked her.”