Health and Safety Resource

February 2018


Accident Report

Event: Animal bite
Industry: Veterinary and behavorial care for pets
Worker: Nursing aide

What happened?​

An anxious cat scratched and bit a worker multiple times.

How did it happen?

A nursing aide employed by the veterinary clinic was two hours into her shift when she was asked to medicate a cat for blood glucose monitoring. Earlier, another employee had taken a sample of the cat’s blood and told the aide that the cat was not friendly.

The nursing aide cautiously opened the kennel door and noticed that the cat was resting comfortably in a litter box. She placed a towel sprayed with Feliway (a synthetic feline pheromone) over the cat and the litter box to calm it. Then, she pulled the litter box toward the kennel door and lifted the cat to the treatment table.

The director of pet nursing came into the room and the two of them worked to coax the towel-wrapped cat into a cat-restraint bag. As she began to remove the towel and bag the cat, the cat flipped over and scratched the nursing aide with the claws on its hind legs.

The nursing aide lost control of the fickle feline and it popped its head out from under the towel, then bit her hand five times “like a cobra.” She quickly washed her bleeding hands and soaked them in a solution of chlorhexidine – an antiseptic used as a disinfectant before surgery. Meanwhile, another employee used a net to trap the crabby cat and put it back in the kennel.

The nursing aide immediately left the veterinary clinic to have her wounds treated at an urgent care center, then returned later in the day to clock out. When she woke the next morning, her right hand was still swollen and painful.

Twenty-four hours later, she was still in pain and having trouble breathing, so she called a health care advice line. The advice line nurse asked her if she was sick because she sounded stuffy. When she explained that she woke up that way, the advice line nurse said she should go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

split tail setup

The hospital admitted her to determine if the antibiotic she was using to treat her injuries had caused an allergic reaction. She was given an intravenous antibiotics, Benadryl, steroids, respiratory therapy treatments every four hours, and an epinephrine injection. She was released two days later, but did not return to work for another four days.


There were no violations associated with the incident; employees were properly trained and used equipment correctly. However, the veterinary clinic did not place a copy of the 300A Summary in a conspicuous place where notices to employees were customarily posted [437-001-0700(17)(d)].