Thursday, February 10, 2005

How Sharper Than a Kitty’s Tooth

A cat bit me last night.

She was a cute little gray lady, tame and friendly, who wandered into the neighborhood grocery store while I was there. The proprietor, a young woman, was not at all pleased, to say the least. As I listened to her talk about how she couldn’t stand cats, I got a bit worried about what she or someone else might do if the cat stayed there much longer.

So I figured I’d make friends with the cat and take her outside. Since she was tame, she responded to my outstretched hand and offer of skritches. Everything worked according to plan until I had her in my arms and was walking out of the store. She figured out what was up, squirmed a bit and the next thing I knew: chomp. Cat tooth to lower right palm.

I hadn’t realized that part of the hand is so sensitive.

Well, I can’t blame the cat. It was a cold night, she wanted to be inside where it was warm and she couldn’t know that I was trying to get her out of trouble.

So I headed home, washed the cut with soap and running water as per instructions (thank Heaven for the Internet!), smothered it in tea tree oil and called Magen David Adom for advice on what to do next. You need to get a tetanus shot within twenty-four hours, they said. You also need to contact the Ministry of Health in order to find out whether you need the rabies vaccine.


So this morning, off I went. My first stop was the sparkling new building of the Maccabi Health Fund downtown, where the line was short and the service great (if one can use such terms to describe getting a tetanus shot, but I mean it; the nurse practitioner was wonderful). After that it was across the street to the district health office where I met with the physician on duty. After hearing my story and asking me questions about the cat’s behavior, she decided that I didn’t need the rabies vaccine.

It was only then that I realized how frightened I’d been.

I know that the rabies vaccine is not given today the way it was when I was a child. And I don’t mind needles that much. Yet even though I told myself that if I had to get the vaccine the main thing I wouldn’t like would be the time commitment involved (one needs to receive several injections over the course of a month), I still had the memories of what I’d heard when I was little, and I had visions of having to lie down on a table, uncover my abdomen and ...

I’ll stop here with just one comment: Whew.

And yes, I still like cats.

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