Cat Bite Abscess

Abscesses are accumulations of pus that form as a result of a puncture wound that occurs during cat fights. Cat fights are just one of the more common reasons we see our feline patients. There can be other causes for abscesses such as foreign bodies but they occur more commonly from a tooth or claw from another cat.

            When a cat bites another cat, puncture wounds are produced. Cats carry a tremendous amount of bacteria on their teeth and claws. When the puncture wound seals over, the bacteria becomes trapped. This bacteria forms a pocket of pus beneath the skin that is very painful.  Within three to five days an abscess can be seen as a swelling under the skin. Not all wounds will abscess. It would depend on the extent of the wound and the patient’s ability to fight off infection. If an abscess is not discovered in its early stages, it continues to swell and accumulate more pus. It will eventually burst leaving the hair around the area matted and moist. Some of the more common areas where abscesses are found are the face, neck, tail, back and legs. If it occurs where loose skin is not available, you may see more swelling instead of a collection of pus. Cat’s fur can often hide a forming abscess so you may not always be aware that there is a problem. Some of the signs to be aware of if your cat may be developing an abscess are:

                  Lethargy

                  Poor/absent appetite

                  Visible puncture wounds

                  Swelling or lump on skin

                  Limping

                  Pain or resentment when touched

                  Fever

                  Swollen lymph nodes

If abscesses are discovered at an early stage, lancing and flushing is usually all that is required. If the tissue is damaged, the veterinarian may need to anaesthetize the patient to debride (remove dead tissue) the wound and possibly insert a drain to encourage draining and healing. Once an abscess has been opened up to drain, the patient usually feels much better. The earlier treatment is begun, the better the chances are for a successful healing.

Antibiotic treatment is an important aspect of abscess therapy. Prognosis is typically excellent.

            The key to prevention is to neuter male cats and keep all cats indoors at night to prevent roaming and fighting. Intact males are at higher risk because they are more likely to roam and fight over territory. A good sturdy fence may help keep other cats out.

            If you suspect that your cat may have been bitten, it is best to contact your veterinarian to assess his/her condition.  Feel free to contact Golf Glen Veterinary Clinic with any questions you may have about your cat’s bite wounds at (905) 727-3003.

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