Oz: Puncture wounds from cat spats can lead to abscesses
Summer is a busy time at veterinary clinics.
Among many other things, just this past week alone we treated at the Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital five cats with abscess on their bodies.
Abscesses are quite a common problem in cats.
An abscess in a pocket of pus accumulated under the skin. Abscesses can be a result of any injury, but it is most commonly a result of bite wounds.
With the current hot weather, cats that have access to the outdoors tend to spend a lot of time outside.
Cats are very territorial creatures in nature, especially the intact ones.
Naturally, spending time outside and wandering off in the neighbour’s yards is calling for trouble. Adventurous cats tend to get engaged in street fights and get injured.
The mouth is probably the most contaminated organ in the animal’s body as there are millions of bacteria in the mouth.
When a cat gets bitten, the bacteria penetrates into the skin causing an infection. Initially, there are no signs for the bite wound. Usually the bite mark is hidden well under the fur. Typically, the problem becomes evident a few days after the incident.
The initial bite puncture wounds tend to heal up very fast, creating a warm, moist and ideal environment for the bacteria to grow and multiply under the skin.
Because the wounds have sealed, the pus that is produced in the inflammation reaction gets entrapped and accumulates in a capsule.
This abscess typically appears three to five days after the incident .The affected area tends to swell up, gets warm and very painful.
The abscess can grow to very impressive sizes. The skin stretches and stretches until the pressure becomes too great and the abscess ruptures.
Besides the swelling in the bite area, the cat often show systemic signs of illness such as fever, loss of appetite and lethargy.
The best course of action in the case of an abscess is early relief of the pressure by drainage of the pus and an antibiotic course to treat the infection.
If not treated in time, the abscess usually raptures and leaves a big laceration in the skin that often is too large to heal on its own and has to be treated surgically.
If the wound gets diagnosed early, before the abscess forms, antibiotics alone may be sufficient for treating the problem.
Prevention of abscess wounds can be tricky.
Many people believe that having an indoor/outdoor lifestyle is important for the cat’s quality of life.
Unfortunately, along with the pleasures and adventures the outdoors has to offer cats, there are also the dangers associated with that.
Neutering your cat will probably reduce the aggressive territorial behaviour that characterizes intact male cats.
If your cat has access to the outdoors or has a peer at home that it tends to fight with, pay attention to sudden sensitivity or pain reaction in a certain area.
Shaving the sore area can reveal marks of bite wounds. An antibiotic therapy at this stage, is usually successful in preventing the abscess from forming.
Like with any other diseases and conditions, knowledge is power.
Be aware of your cat’s chances of being wounded and developing an abscess.
Being attentive to this matter by frequently petting the cat to check for any sensitive areas on its body, and seeking veterinary care in case of an injury suspicion can save both you and your kitty a lot of grief.