Opinion: Taking a bite out of dinner plans


We have a cat. Her name is Angel, and most of the time she is just that. Except when she is a devil. Last week, when my wife Mary Ellen reached for a tissue while watching TV, Angel, who had nestled next to her for the evening, bit her. The cut wasn’t very deep, so Mary Ellen applied an antibiotic and off to sleep we went.

We both had pretty much forgotten about the feline attack, but the next night on the way to dinner with friends, Mary Ellen casually mentioned the redness on her hand to Bob and Cathy. Both armed with their iPhones, they were in the back seat Googling away, entering phrases like: fatal cat bites; deadly feline teeth; and lethal kitten puncture wounds. Hey, what’s more fun than surfing the net?

Eventually, Bob and Cathy convinced my wife that the swelling was either Pasteurella multocida or staphylococcus aureus. That sounded pretty serious, so we decided to make it a fun evening by socializing in the medical clinic waiting room while my wife was being examined. I know that’s a really dumb way to spend a Saturday night, but with my wife’s excellent health insurance, it was cheaper than going to the movies and dinner.

There was a long line to see the doctor, so Mary Ellen put herself on the waiting list to come back in an hour or so. I told the nurse that the next time my wife needed medical attention like this, we’d try to call about 45 minutes before she planned to torment the cat. Mary Ellen did not think that was funny.

Cats and dogs aren’t the only attacking culprits. One part of the medical form provided a list of species that could potentially bite a human. Mary Ellen was asked to check the appropriate box. They were in alphabetical order, so the first one on the list was bats and No. 2 was cattle, which I think would be embarrassing to admit. OK, maybe a mad cow, but how do you let an entire herd bite you? Squirrels are the very last one listed. No wolves? And there is no mention of pigs, more proof of just how powerful the bacon lobby is.

The doctor confirmed the potential severity of a cat wound and suggested that an X-ray be taken to be sure bone had not been penetrated. Cathy, who was by now the leading cat bite expert in central Indiana, wanted to know why that procedure was necessary. “Because the cat is now missing two front teeth,” I told her.

Many years ago, Mary Ellen was at this very clinic after she tried to take a chicken bone away from our beagle, Barney. The gash from Barney’s bite required three stitches in her hand. My wife has now been bitten twice by our pets. Which is why we are not getting a cow.


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