Monday 15 November 2021

Do cats bite more than dogs?

Officially, in terms of recorded incidents, cats do not bite more than dogs. In fact, it is quite the reverse. For example, statistics tell me that in the US dog bites are by far the most common type of animal bites with around 4.7 million incidents annually (2009). An estimated 800,000 dog bites resulted in medical care for the victim. And about 30+ fatal dog bites occur annually. 

Classic Dracula cat bite marks on human leg. Pic: MikeB

By contrast, there are an estimated 400,000 cat bites annually in the US. They lead to an estimated 66,000 hospital emergency visits (once again as at 2009).

However, rabies is more often transmitted by cat bites and dog bites. There were 18 rabies cases from dogs and 300 rabies cases from cats in the US in 2009. The source for this information is the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the US.

RELATED: How often do cats transmit rabies to people in the USA?

The reason why domestic and stray cats are more likely to transmit rabies to people is because they are off the lead. They wander freely. They are more likely to encounter wildlife who then pass the disease to them in a bite. It is just the nature of how companion animal ownership takes place.

RELATED: Walking your cat on a leash to explore and stimulate. A lifestyle to aspire to?

It's almost certain that recorded incidents in official figures, as stated, are not the true figures. There must be millions of small bites by cats and dogs that take place inside homes and in backyards across the planet annually which go unreported.

Therefore, I don't think we can be certain as to the answer to the question in the title.

For dog bites, the injury rate is highest for children in the age range 5-9. The rates decrease with increasing age. The rate is significantly higher for boys compared to girls. When boys and girls are 15 years of age there is no difference in terms of being bitten by a dog. Injuries normally occur to the arm and leg followed by the leg and foot, followed by the head and neck. When a dog bites a young child under the age of four they attacked the head and neck region (source: CDC).

I don't have CDC figures for cats but they are likely to bite hands more than any other part of the human anatomy because of over-petting and cats treating hands as play objects. Or a person reaches out to a stray cat and the fearful cat bites the person's hand.

Legs as well will be attacked by cats because they are at the same level as them.

Note: I believe that the 2009 CDC stats come from 1994! Anyway the comparison is the important thing.

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