Family & Pets
Dire warning to cat owners after elderly woman's tragic death
An 80-year-old Melbourne woman has died after being scratched by her pet cat.
The grandmother, whose identity is kept private at the request of her family, was rushed to Box Hill Hospital in May after she was found unresponsive in bed with her cat Minty curled up nearby.
The woman was later found to have bacterial meningitis from her cat’s saliva.
Her daughter told the Herald Sun the cat likely licked the woman’s wound when she was sleeping, causing the saliva to enter her bloodstream.
Cat’s saliva commonly contains pasteurella multocida, which may cause infections in humans.
The woman spent nine days in a coma and became critically ill before being taken off her life support.
She had previously suffered cellulitis due to cat scratches.
Austin Health’s director of infectious diseases Lindsay Grayson said people with weak immune systems should avoid cats.
“Infections related to cat bites and scratches like this person, we’d get at least one a week where somebody comes into the hospital,” he told the outlet.
“It is very important that if a cat is biting or scratching you, you mention it to your GP. It immediately triggers a greater concern and a different medical approach to just a routine scratch.”