Why Do Cat Scratches Burn And Itch? What Should You Do?

If you own a furry feline, then you’re probably no stranger to a scratch here and there. Sometimes these can be rather scary. And if a scratch is burning and itching you’re right to be concerned. 

We’re going to break down the reasons why this happens and what to do if it does. So if you’re wondering, why do cat scratches itch, you’ve come to the right place. 

Why Do Cat Scratches Itch?

Suppose you’re playing around and your cat scratches you. Sounds pretty routine, except a few hours later the whole area becomes itchy. If that happens, there is no reason to panic.

Unlike popular belief, scratches are actually a good thing. It’s basically just your body protecting you from a potential infection. Once your immune system gets triggered, it starts working by sending chemicals and defensive cells to protect you. Sometimes, when a scratch is deep, your skin forms a scab over it and this scab can cause itching. 

What Should You Do?

Just don’t give in to the discomfort. Instead, try to itch as little as you possibly can. Putting on an ointment will help. Once the area is moisturized, the itching will temporarily subside.

Why Do Cat Scratches Burn?

That sharp sting you feel after you get scratched by a cat is entirely normal. As with any other scratch, you’re going to feel a burning pain with redness and slight inflammation around the area.

But the reason you get this intense burning sensation is that cat scratches aren’t deep. This lack of depth also means the area doesn’t get much blood supply. Since this superficial scratch is exposed to air with very little blood flow supporting the tissues, the burning pain can be overwhelming.

Unlike deep cuts, where blood supply is a buffer to the air exposure, the superficial cat scratch will burn a lot.

Why Do Some Scratches Hurt More Than Others?

If you’ve got a nasty claw scratch that is giving you intense discomfort, one of the main reasons is that your feline’s claws are longer than what’s safe.

Long and sharp nails cut more frequently, and these can be really painful. So make sure you give those tiny claws a little trim every now and then.

Another reason may be that you’ve been scratched in a sensitive area. For example, scratches around the face and arms tend to be a lot more painful than one on your hand. Be careful not to hold your cat too close to your face if it’s displaying aggressive behavior.

And lastly, there might be something in your furry friend’s claws that’s causing all the racket. Cats have webbing between their fingers, and debris can sometimes get stuck there. If that’s the case, then you’re at risk of infection and should seek medical help.

When to Contact Your Healthcare Provider?

A little scratch might not be harmful at all. However, you should call your doctor immediately if you notice something out of the ordinary. 

Anything like a bite or scratch that won’t heal is reason enough to raise the alarm.

Catch scratch disease is a genuine threat to your health. So if you have prolonged fever, painful lumps, joint or abdominal pain, or an area around the scratch that grows bigger after 48 hours, see a doctor immediately.

How to Avoid Cat Scratch Fever?

There are a few things you can do to avoid cat scratch fever. 

For example, play with your furry friend with care and keep washing your hands frequently. You should also try to avoid being licked around your face as much as possible. In fact, it’s best if your cat doesn’t lick you at all. 

Another excellent preventive measure is controlling fleas. Fleas are a risk to both your and your cat’s health. Check your cat’s scalp regularly and make sure you don’t have a flea problem. 

Also, make sure to give your cat frequent baths and trim their nails. That way, you’re avoiding being scratched or infected. 

You should also try not to pet stray cats. You don’t know what diseases they might have or if they’re aggressive. And finally, don’t provoke your cat. You don’t want a wild, unexpected leap right at your face.


All cat owners have been scratched at least once during their lives as cat parents. Sometimes your cat might start showing aggressive behavior and scratch you intentionally. 

However, most of the time, they’re just accidental. A playtime accident, or just outgrown nails that might injure you when your cat jumps off of your lap.

Just follow these precautions to avoid infection. Most of the time, a small scratch isn’t a big deal, but if it continues to inch or burn for over 24 hours, seek medical help. Sometimes even the most insignificant symptom might save you from a lot of trouble.

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