Cats frequently fight with each other. What starts out as a seemingly innocuous puncture wound can rapidly progress to a serious abscess causing fever, pain and even septicaemia.
The cat’s tooth or claw will puncture the skin introducing bacteria. The small puncture wound then closes over sealing the infection inside. Initially, there is painful inflammation and cellulitis at the site, then the bacteria proliferate. The body’s response to this infection is to produce pus, and a fluid-filled swelling develops.
What you will see at home:
Abscesses can be difficult to see beneath the cat’s fur. As it enlarges, you may feel a soft fluctuating swelling which will usually be painful. If the abscess hasn’t ruptured, the cat may become listless and inappetant from pain and fever. With time, the skin will become devitalised and the abscess may burst revealing a messy sore with a foul smell from the pus.
Common sites for abscesses are the cheeks, rump, base of tail and legs.
If your cat has been in a fight, we recommend checking with the vet for any wounds in case there is a need for treatment.
If you are unable to get to the vet, at least try to shave the hair around any puncture wounds you find and apply antiseptic to these wounds while they are still fresh, open and weeping.
Once an abscess has formed, antibiotics alone cannot control the infection without removing the pus. If the abscess hasn’t already ruptured, it will need to be opened and drained and flushed clean. Usually this will require a general anaesthetic.
Some are large or deep enough to require an indwelling rubber drain to facilitate drainage. These drains may require flushing with saline at home.
The cat will definitely need to be on antibiotics when discharged from hospital.
What else?
As with many things, prevention is the best cure. Keeping moggie confined indoors, especially at nights when cats tend to be “out on the town”, will greatly reduce the incidence of fighting an therefore of infections.
Two important viruses can be spread by exchange of blood and saliva during fights. These are the Feline Leukaemia Virus & the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). The latter is by far the most common in the Sydney area. Both these viruses are potentially fatal to the cat. Blood tests will reveal whether there has been exposure to the viruses. However, it will take approximately 60 days following exposure before the test will show a positive result. There are now vaccinations available against these diseases.
If you are interested in more information about these diseases and their vaccinations, please ring – we are happy to discuss the details with you.