Mad Dogs and Englishmen….

This really has little to do with mad dogs and Englishmen, but bear with me. There is a sort of a connection.

IMG_0153Yesterday, the neighborhood cat came to our patio door to taunt and torture our cats and I did a foolish thing. I reached down to stop our “Devil Cat” from rushing the screen and he bit me! Good. His canine tooth sank into the skin of my palm right below my thumb. A couple of other teeth did less damage. I washed and soaked and slathered the wounds with antibiotic cream and bandaged them. Today I’ll call my doctor’s office. My hand hurts and I’m running a low grade fever but other than that, I’m not worried. My cat is current on his rabies shots and, being an indoor cat, he is never exposed to rabid animals anyway. And even if my cat had rabies, at least there is a (reputedly unpleasant) cure.

It certainly was not so in Regency England, though.

Rabies was described as early as 2300 B.C. in Babylonia. In 800-700 B.C. Homer describes Hector as being like a “raging dog.” Four hundred years later Aristotle describes dogs as suffering from a madness that is contagious and fatal to other animals who are bitten. As time goes on, rabies is mentioned all over Europe and Russia and first appears in the British Isles in 1026 A.D. the mid 1700s, a serious outbreak of rabies swept London. All dogs were ordered confined for one month and a reward of 2 shillings for killing dogs on the streets led to a carnage.

It wasn’t until 1804 that a German scientist demonstrated that rabies was transmitted through the saliva of mad animals, and finally in 1885 Louis Pasteur cured the first patient with his newly invented vaccine.

Nothing in the history of rabies mentioned rabid cats. Probably another way cats feel themselves superior to dogs.

I’ll let you know what happens at the doctor. Have you ever been bit by an animal? Tell us your story.


About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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22 Responses to Mad Dogs and Englishmen….

  1. Kristie says:

    Shame on your “Devil Cat” (even though he is so cute)! For him to treat you so cruelly, when you are only looking out for his well-being! For shame,….

    The worse animal bite I’ve ever suffered was from our sweet, adorable hedgehog, Nugget. I’ve been bitten by several kinds of animals (passion-induced husband included) and none have hurt as badly as that little bi—baby! How can such a lil’ biddy, adorable critter bite so hard! And they tenaciously HANG ON! I’m sure I looked ridiculous, stamping my feet and shaking my hand as I seethed between my teeth “please let go, please let go, please let go”. It must have been the chicken tenders I ate earlier, because hedgehogs only bite something if they think it’s food. I bore her teethmarks for a day or so, but it was a forgivable offense and I continue to give her all the TLC of which she is so worthy. I wasn’t worried about the possibilities of rabies because I’ve had the series of shots already. But that’s another story,…

    Oh, and the shots aren’t really that bad. Not as bad as that damned hedgehog bite!

    • diane says:

      Awwwwwww. Hedgehogs are soooo cute! But, wait a minute. That’s not the response you wanted.

      Ahem! You poor thing!!! How horrible. One should never be caused to endure such pain!

      I wonder if anyone can top that story!!!

  2. Nancy says:

    I don’t have any bite stories, but I’ve heard a few when I worked as a medical transcriptionist. People would come into the ER and their arms or hands would be pretty badly swollen with red streaks running up the arm, and they’d be running a fever. You’re doing the right thing by going to the doctor. That fever is a warning.

    My cat likes to lick and chew my fingers and knuckles but has never bitten. I don’t know why unless she’s supposedly grooming me.

  3. Elena Greene says:

    The low grade fever is scary. Hope you are OK, Diane. Please let us know.

  4. catslady says:

    It’s always a good idea to be extra careful with bites. I’ve been lucky considering how many ferals/strays I’ve helped with and two dogs and even raccoons lol. I’ve been bitten only twice. One was a feral kitten that I had a home for but it was a little too soon and I didn’t blame him. Unfortunately, the adoption was for a young girl and they were going to travel 8 hrs. in a car so I didn’t give him to her and he was the only outside cat that I’ve helped that got hit by a car when only 7 months. I was devastated. My other bite was another cat I brought into the house and I was trying to get him in a cage for the vets – that one hurt!! But I didn’t get sick, luckily. Good luck.

  5. Lisa Chaplin says:

    Dami-EN!!! Seriously, your cats all have distinct personalities! Did Gypsy’s eyes bug out of her head when it happened? No…poor Diane! Hope the doctor can help and the fever abates.

    • diane says:

      Damien must be forgiven, although he is not my favorite cat at the moment. He really was scared and what I got was displacement behaviour.

  6. Mary says:

    No serious bites, thank God. I am really glad you’re going to the dr. , please don’t let the infection get away from you. Please keep us posted!! (((Diane)))

  7. Diane Gaston says:

    Diane here with an update.
    It has been an adventure….The doctor took one look at me and said I had to go to the emergency room and that I would probably be admitted for at least one night. So that is where I am. The bite has caused an infection that put red streaks up my arm. They are giving me IV antibiotics which will kill whatever bacteria the cat pushed into my body. Good news is, I’m not sick at all. I’m just getting a big rest!!

  8. Oh no! Please take care O Divine One and report in when you can. Cat bites, unfortunately, can be quite virulent! I worked as a veterinary technician for five years and had all manner of animals in my house at one time or another. I’ve been bitten by everything from monkey-tailed skinks to hedgehogs (yes, they DO bite hard and they refuse to let go!) to horses, to dogs, cats and a number of snakes. Worst bite? A three pound chihuahua at the vet clinic! Went up my arm like a sewing machine. OUCH!

    Shame on you, Damien!

  9. Oh dear, I hope things are not as bad as they seem right now & that you will get better soon Diane!!!! Yesterday my cat Chloe tried to bite my fathers hand, and missed. She was anxious to go outside, which she never does unsupervised. Probably because a large dove was sitting on a treebranch. He/she was looking mighty tasty I suspect, as Chloe next attempted to jump through the cottage window… The glass and the cat are still intact, but her pride did take a blow 🙂

  10. Kristie says:

    I hope you heal thoroughly and quickly, Diane! Wow, I had no idea a cat bite could become that serious, especially considering you cleaned it as well as you did! That’s really scary!

  11. Diane Gaston says:

    I’m doing much better today. All the redness has faded. Now I just have to wait for the doctors to come look at me. I think i’ll be home today, though!

    Thanks for all your sympathy!!!!

  12. Elena Greene says:

    I’m so glad you’re better, Diane. You are an amazing person. You get a bad bite and instead of succumbing to panic, you write a blog post with interesting historical information on rabies. Then you go take care of yourself AND still keep us all posted so we don’t have to worry too much. Thanks for being you!

  13. Diane, that is terrible!! I’ve heard that we should be very careful about cat bites, even indoor cats, because they can pick up stuff from their litter boxes etc. I am NOT looking forward to moving my homebody cats who hate their carriers!!!

    Feel better asap!

  14. diane says:

    I’m home, everyone. The doctor put me on oral meds and sent me home. I feel fine. Never have felt sick . I just have 4 teethmarks in my hand.

  15. Pingback: Regency Cats » Risky Regencies

  16. Helen Hester-Ossa says:

    Diane, I used to have a huge gray cat named Gandalf (back in the 70s). I would brush his hair with a little hairbrush to get off the loose hair and dander, and mostly he tolerated it, as long as I didn’t go against the grain. One day, the god of stupidity reached out and flicked me on the forehead, and I started brushing Gandalf’s stomach. He gave me a few warning growls, then he bit the h_ll out of the palm of my right hand (I’m right-handed, natch!).

    I went in to work (at the LSU Medical School) and my boss, a physician, made me immediately go to the emergency room next door to get a tetanus shot and bandaging. Another friend of mine, who worked in Infectious Diseases, took a culture of my wound for his study on “Cat Scratch” fever.

    Well, my hand did not get infected, thank goodness, but the giant bandage around my right hand made it VERY difficult to drive my stick shift car.

    Hey, he warned me!

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