Cats and abscess injuries

The summer time is for sure a busy time in veterinary clinics. Among many other things, just this past week alone we treated five cats with abscesses on their bodies. Abscesses are quite a common problem in cats.  An abscess is 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.

In the 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 wondering off in the neighbour's yard is calling for trouble and these 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 the animal gets bitten, the bacteria penetrates into the skin causing an infection. Initially there are no signs of the bite wound as 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 wound tends 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 get entrapped and accumulates in a capsule. This pocket of pus is called an abscess. The abscess typically appears 3-5 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, no appetite and lethargy.

The best course of action in 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 on 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 enough 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 to cats, there are also the dangers associated with that. Neutering your cat will probably reduce its 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 frequently will reveal marks of bite wounds. An antibiotic therapy in this stage is usually successful in preventing the abscess formation.

Like with any other diseases and conditions, knowledge is power. Be aware of your cat’s chances of being wounded and developing an abscess. Be attentive to this matter by frequently petting the cat and checking for any sensitive areas on its body. By seeking veterinary care in case of an injury suspicion can save both you and your kitty a lot of grief.


Dr. Oz can be reached at www.KelownaVet.ca

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About the Author

Dr. Moshe Oz owns Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital, a small animal veterinary practice in West Kelowna.

Dr. Oz has deep love and affection for animals. It was his childhood dream to become a veterinarian, a dream that he has fulfilled when he graduated with honours from KUVM,on 2006. Dr. Oz's special interest is internal medicine and surgery.

In his free time Dr. Oz enjoys training and racing triathlons, including the legendary Penticton's Ironman.

Dr. Oz can be contacted through his website: www.KelownaVet.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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