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Thiruvananthapuram: a naughty dog or a gentle cat, which is more dangerous?
With their high-pitched barking and suspicious look, the comparatively hard-looking canines would be the natural choice of a majority of people over the cute little cats if someone asks such a question.
However, the reality is a little different, at least in Kerala, if the information provided by the state health department in a recently published RTI response is to be believed.
According to the state health directorate, the number of people suffering from “cat bites” seeking treatment in the state is much higher than in recent years for dog attacks.
In January of this year alone, according to the management, at least 28,186 people had suffered cat bites, while the number of those attacked by the canines was 20,875.
The data was published in accordance with the RTI query from the Animal Legal Force, a government animal organization.
Statistics of people bitten by dogs and cats between 2013 and 2021, as well as spending on rabies vaccines and serum, have been attached to the response, which the police relayed to the media.
The number of people who suffered kitten bites has shown an increasing trend since 2016, the year when statistics show that 1,60,534 people were treated for the cat bite, compared with 1,35,217 for the attack by dogs.
If cats bite up to 1,60,785 people in 2017, the number increased to 1,75,368 people in 2018 and 2,04,625 and 2,16,551 in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Compared to 2014 and 2020 numbers, the number of people who have suffered cat bites has increased 128 percent in the southern state.
However, the number of those who suffered a dog bite and received treatment was 1,35,749 in 2017, 1,48,365 in 2018, 1,61,050 in 2019, and 1,60,483 in 2020, according to government figures.
At least five people died of rabies infection in the southern state last year, and a major cause of death was the attitude of people who easily took the animal bite, said Angels Nair, secretary-general of the Animal Legal Force.
Although cats do not normally attack people compared to dogs, their accidental scratching of teeth or nails was the reason why people were forced to take a rabies vaccine or seek medical help.
Such cat scratches would also be recorded as “cat bites” in the medical records, and that could be the reason why “cat bite” cases in the state have a flare-up, the outfit said, adding that getting a vaccine is important even if people suffer a small scratch from it