CAT BITE ABSCESS
February 6, 2020
Many of you may have had a cat that has been in a rumble with one of the neighborhood cats, either as the instigator or as an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The spring and summer months are the time of the year where we treat more cat bite abscesses. This is because during these months we see our cats heading out and about more, especially at dusk and dawn. This increased movement means cats are crossing each others territories more which causes fights. We also see entire male cats roaming very big distances to try to find females, again entering other cats’ territories and fighting.
Cat fighting can be quite rough and noisy and the scratches and bites that occur can be quite serious given the amount of bacteria in a cat’s mouth and under their claws. We see these wounds when they get infected and abscess. Because a cat’s teeth are so sharp, when they bite each other they deposit bacteria under the skin through a small pinprick wound. This wound can go unnoticed until the bacteria trapped under the skin start to multiply This leads to swelling under the skin and becomes more and more painful as infectious material (pus) increases. This can take days to get to a size that is noticeable and in that time your cat will be very quiet, hide away and may eat less food. Sometimes the first sign is when the abscess bursts, which gives the cat much relief but seems very unsightly to us.
Treatment includes locating the abscess and then ensuring there is good drainage. Sometimes we need to sedate your cat to open the abscess and remove the affected material. Other times if it is already burst we flush the area to make sure there is no fluid still trapped inside and then give antibiotics.
Avoiding cat fighting can be very difficult, but desexing your cat at a young age is by far the most effective method to decrease roaming and fighting. Cats that have already learned to go out in the early evening or during the early hours of the morning can be very hard to train out of it, as if you lock them inside they can protests noisily. The best approach is to teach your kitten from a young age to come in for dinner late evening and then stay inside all night (with a locked cat door so they can’t get out). They can then have breakfast and be let outside during the day. Some cat fighting does happen during the day, but being locked in at night drastically reduces the risk .