Cat Abscess or Cat Fight Abscess - Symptoms and Treatment
What is an Abscess on a Cat?
Abscesses are accumulations of pus that usually form as a result
of puncture wounds inflicted during cat fights. (real fights or mock fights)
There can be causes of abscesses other than cat fight wounds, for example
foreign bodies such as grass seeds, splinters etc. It may not always be evident
what has caused an abscess until the contents have been released and the cavity
in the tissues examined.
How do abscesses on cats occur?
A cat's skin has the ability to heal very quickly. When a tooth
or claw from another cat punctures the skin it injects bacteria into the
underlying tissues. The small puncture wound then quickly heals over providing
the bacteria a warm moist environment to thrive and multiply.
Three to five days later the abscess can be seen or felt as a
soft painful swelling under the skin. Not every wound will abscess. Development
depends on the extent and the depth of the bite, the number and type of bacteria
present in the wound and, most importantly the ability of the victim's immune
system to fight off the infection.
Apart from local soreness your cat may not show
ill effects from the bite wound for some days. However, as the infection
worsens, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy may be noticeable. These are
symptoms of release of bacteria toxins and by products of dying tissue into the
blood stream. The cat can become quite ill.
What are the symptoms of cat abscess?
If your cat has an abscess he will be in a great deal of pain.
Suspect your cat has an abscess if:
* There is a sudden loss of appetite.
* Your cat becomes less active. He may sit 'hunched over' for
long periods of time.
* He is reluctant to move or play.
* He is reluctant for you to touch him or he is in obvious pain
when you touch him.
* He is warm to the touch indicating he may have a fever.
* You may notice a lump or hot inflamed area
* Combined with other symptoms above your cat may begin to limp.
You may not always notice an abscess as the cat's fur can hide
What is the treatment for cat abscess?
The abscess may rupture spontaneously discharging thick yellow or
brownish foul smelling pus through a hole in the skin. The cat may then feel a
lot better and resume eating. If the cat is co-operative, clip away the fur
surrounding the wound. Bathe away any discharge and any scab that has formed. Wash with
warm salty water or dilute hydrogen peroxide (50/50 10 volume). The more
discharge that escapes the better.
If the abscess does not rupture within a day or two it is best to
have it opened and drained surgically by your vet. Your vet will drain the pus
and remove dying tissue which promotes more rapid healing and resolution of the
infection. Your vet will usually insert a surgical drain in the abscess site to
allow further discharge to occur over the next few days. Usually antibiotics
will be prescribed and the drain removed a few days later.
If you know your cat has been bitten it is advisable to take it
to the vet or veterinary hospital for examination. Potentially serious wounds
can be treated with antibiotics before they develop into abscess. Early action
can often avoid abscesses and expensive complications.
Following a cat fight, inspect your cat for tell-tale painful
areas and puncture wounds. Particularly search around the head and neck and
forelegs, and on the lower back at the base of the spine. Often the injury can
be somewhere to the rear of your cat. This happens because your cat is fleeing
from it's attacker. Feel for matting
together with tufts of hair or blood at the puncture site.
Do not dismiss small holes as insignificant. Apply gentle pressure at the
site and judge the cat's reaction for pain. Repeat this test the next day.
Increasing soreness is a cause for concern.
Neutering male cats is the most
effective method of reducing the incidence and severity of fights. Keeping your
cat inside at night will also help prevent fighting.
When to visit the vet
If you know that your cat has been bitten or has a claw wound it is best to take it
to the vet before an abscess develops. Penetrating bite wounds are almost always
If your cat is off it's food or in pain.
If the abscess is extensive.
If the abscess does not rupture or begin to resolve within 48
If the abscess ruptures but is not clearing up within 48 hours or