Objective: To examine the characteristics of reported dog and cat bite incidents in El Paso, Texas, and their implications for local bite prevention programs.
Methods: The authors reviewed a random sample of reported dog bites and all reported cat bites in El Paso, Texas, in 1995 using existing animal control surveillance data.
Results: The majority of cat bites (89.4%) were provoked, with females (57.5%) and adults (68.3%) more likely to be victims than males or children. In contrast, just under half of dog bites (44.6%) were provoked, with males (65.6%) and children (63%) more likely to be victims than females or adults. Dogs that had not been vaccinated for rabies were involved in 65% of dog bites and cats that had not been vaccinated for rabies were involved in 92% of cat bites.
Conclusion: Effective bite prevention programs should address the finding that both restrained and unrestrained dogs may bite even when unprovoked and that unrestrained cats usually bite when provoked.