Abscesses and My Cat
While indoor cats who live with other cats may occasionally fight, it's rarely serious. Outdoor cats, especially males who haven't been neutered, are much more likely to wage serious battles over territory. When a cat is bitten, the resulting wound can close, trapping bacteria inside. This causes an abscess.
What is an Abscess?
Since cat's teeth are fairly long and narrow, cat bite wounds often heal quickly at the skin surface. However, the bacteria from the cat's mouth can become trapped inside the cat, and result in an infection. Puss can fill the wound and cause painful swelling.
Symptoms of an Abscess
Your cat may have small, painful, swollen areas, usually on the neck, head, legs and around the tail. The cat may try to bite if you press on the sore area. Lethargy and lack of appetite are other symptoms, and your cat may develop a fever.
Home Treatment of Abscesses
You can treat an abscess at home, but if your cat seems seriously ill, you should bring it to your veterinarian. At home, determine the location of any abscesses. Your cat probably has more than one. Trim the hair around the area to see if it is draining. If it's not, apply a washcloth with hot water to the area for twenty minutes a couple times each day until the abscess begins to drain. Clean it with hydrogen peroxide two to three times a day and be sure to prevent a scab from forming. If the area doesn't stop draining within two days, or if your cat stops eating, be sure to take them to the vet.
How Will My Veterinarian Treat an Abscess?
The vet will numb the area and trim the surrounding fur. A small incision will be made to drain the abscess, and it will be flushed with hydrogen peroxide. The wound should stay open to prevent bacteria from again being closed up inside. The vet may insert a small tube if the wound needs to be sewn shut. The tube will allow for continued drainage and air flow. The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to help fight infection.
If your cat has been in a fight with another cat, the vet will want to check for rabies, Bartonella, feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. If your cat is an outdoor cat, be sure it is spayed or neutered and has up-to-date shots and vaccines. Check your cat regularly for swelling or sore areas. Be sure to watch your cat's behavior; poor appetite, weight loss, swelling, or reluctance to be picked up are all signs of illness. It's up to you to notice when your cat is sick. By following safety guidelines and keeping a close on your cat for changing health and attitude, you should have your cat fixed up in no time!
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