Cat Wound Care

Cat Wound Care – Treating Your Wounded Cat

If you have shared your life with cats for any amount of time you will know that they acquire the occasional wound.

With some cats, particularly outdoor cats, wounds, bites, scratches and other injuries are more than the occasional occurrence.

Leaping up onto fences, clambering up trees and the inevitable disputes and fights over territory all present the danger of kitty being injured.

Yes, having a feline as a companion has likely meant that you have experienced caring for an injured cat.

Any cat wound care is best given by a veterinarian.

There are some minor cuts and scrapes that can be treated at home, but if you are in any way uncertain seek professional help.

Cat Wound Care – Deep Or Open Wounds

Any deep or open wound to your cat obviously needs the attention of a veterinarian.

If the injury is bleeding you need to stop the blood flow. Wear sterile disposable gloves.

Press a pad of sterile gauze or clean cloth over the wound using firm but gentle pressure for as long as necessary until the bleeding stops.

When the blood flow has subsided the pad needs to be kept in place.

If possible bandage the pad in place but not too tightly.

kittens fightingLikely these two kittens are only play fighting. Serious injury often occurs however, when two cats brawl over territory.

It must be emphasized that the above is emergency cat wound care to enable you to get your cat to a vet who will be able to properly treat a deep or open wound.

If possible, have someone drive you there while you ensure the pad is kept in place and calm your cat.

The way that your veterinarian treats the laceration will depend on what caused the wound, whether it is infected or not, or likely to become infected.

It may be necessary for the wound to be debrided, that is the removal of damaged tissue and any debris.

A large wound will need to be sutured closed. Any sign of infection and the vet will likely stitch a drain tube in place to allow any undesirable matter to drain out.

Cat Wound Care – Superficial Scratches

As well as the more serious wounds cats can often receive superficial scratches, grazes and scrapes.

If the scratch really is superficial, it can be easily treated at home with a bit of care. Simply wash the wound with plain soap and water, or a saline solution.

Apply an antibiotic ointment once a day until the scratch or graze has completely healed.

For a wound that is more than a surface scratch, a wound that bleeds continually, is in any way deep or shows any sign of infection - don't take chances, get your cat to a vet.

Remember always to be careful when administering cat wound care. Any cut, scratch or bite is likely to be painful.

Your wounded pet will likely not appreciate that you are trying to help her when you touch the painful wound. Sharp claws are likely to lash out and sharp teeth likely to bite.

If necessary have a friend carefully hold your cat wrapped in a thick towel, while you tend to the injury.

Puncture Wounds

Although there are many ways a cat can receive a puncture wound, the most common way is from a bite from another cat.

A cat does not have the jaw clamping power of some larger animals so does not inflict crush injuries. A cat has those long thin teeth that puncture, rather than tear the flesh.

These small puncture wounds close up and all but disappear very quickly.

Is this a good thing?. . . No, because bacteria from the biting cat's mouth is left under the victim cat's skin and begins to multiply very rapidly.

Do not under estimate the seriousness of a puncture injury.

cat drainage tube
A large wound will need to be sutured closed. Any sign of infection and the vet will likely stitch a drain tube in place to allow any undesirable matter to drain out.
Image courtesy of Zemlinki! @ flicker.

The bite may not look severe but your feline should receive cat wound care from a veterinarian.

Often puncture wounds can go unnoticed.

These wounds generally do not bleed very much, close up quickly and are usually concealed by the cat's fur.

The bitten cat may not display any difference in her or his behavior for a day or so until the wound develops into an abscess.

Then the area around the bite may swell and become sore, the cat may possibly act listless, feverish and stop eating.

The treatment a veterinarian gives a puncture wound will vary according to its severity and location.

In some cases vets may use x-rays to determine the depth of the bite and to detect any foreign bodies.

The veterinarian will fight infections with antibiotics. A drain is often used to stop the wound from closing over and to allow undesirable matter to seep out during the healing process.

Although puncture wounds are usually inflicted through a fight with another cat, there are other causes. Another animal species with sharp, puncturing teeth, snakes, nails, sharp branches and even from sadistic humans.

Whatever the cause, puncture wounds are deceptive. The advice is the same, your feline should receive wound care from a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Many online sources recommend using hydrogen peroxide to clean a cat's wounds. You should be aware that, although hydrogen peroxide does indeed destroy bacteria, it can also destroy healthy tissue. Also, the wound needs to be cleaned out by a vet.  If any debris remains and the wound closes over, the hydrogen peroxide will not help

It is best only to use hydrogen peroxide if directed to do so by your veterinarian and only in the strength that she or he recommends.

Cat Wound Care – Abscesses

Abscesses are a frequent result of a wound in cats because a cat's skin will rapidly close over punctures and other small wounds. This results in bacteria becoming trapped.

The cat's bone marrow dispatches white blood cells to fight infection. These white blood cells and the multiplying bacteria accumulate and form a collection of pus trapped beneath the skin.

The resulting abscess is not only painful for the cat, but can develop into a severe infection.

The veterinarian may need to make some tests to diagnose the abscess.

A needle may be inserted into the lump to withdraw a sample of the pus. A blood sample may also be taken.

However, very often a vet does not need to make any test as abscesses can frequently be diagnosed by visual signs alone.

In some cases where the abscess has burst and is draining well, the veterinarian will only need to administer antibiotic treatment.

In other cases the cat will need to be anesthetized to allow the abscess to be lanced for drainage. The vet will then use an anti bacteria solution to flush away remaining pus and other undesirable matter.

If the abscess is very large you may have to hot pack the wound two or three times a day. I have had to do this on two different occasions with two different cats.  Both had large abscesses on their back the size of my fist.

I did this by soaking a wet bath towel in very hot water. I then wrung the water out of the towel and folded it twice so it was four layers thick.  I placed another dry towel folded the same way on top of it.  With the cat stretched across my shoulder, I then placed the hot wet towel side on the wound for around 20 minutes.

Both cats just completely relaxed on my shoulder as if they were feeling total relief. The vet told me to do this for five days but I found that after three days the swelling from the abscess had gone way down and the cats did not want the treatment anymore as in "Just try it lady and you will feel my claws."

Caring for your new kitten.
Your investment in good basic kitten care will reward you with the companionship, and affection, of a healthy cat for fifteen years or more.

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