Monday, December 26, 2011

Caring for cat bites and abscesses

Jasper gets a cat bite hot pack treatment
Jasper enjoying his hot pack treatment.
Over the weekend, when the veterinary clinics were closed for the holiday, Jasper came to dinner with a crusty injury on his neck. Since Jasper is an outdoor cat and he's prone to fighting, I wasn't terribly surprised. Like most outdoor cats, Jasper develops these cat bite injuries from time to time.

Cats carry a large amount of bacteria in their mouths, and their skin tends to heal quickly. When a cat bites another cat, those teeth transmit infection deep beneath the fur, and the skin heals over that infection. Cats then develop a pocket of disgusting puss below the skin that grows and grows until it bursts to the surface.

When a cat develops an abscess like this, a veterinarian usually needs to anesthetize the cat, put in a drain and place the cat on antibiotics. It's an expensive proposition at any veterinarian's office, but it's very expensive at an emergency clinic.

Thankfully, however, not all bites become abscessed. If you can encourage your cat to show you injuries when they happen, you can actually prevent abscesses from forming through diligent home care. That seems to be what's happening here.

Jasper seems to have a tiny bite that's somewhat fresh. It's open, bleeding and smells clean. There's no real puss coming out, and he seems to be eating well and feeling well. If we didn't treat it, and that skin closed up, off to the vet he would go. But for now, home care is a viable choice.

Three times per day, Jasper sits on my husband's lap and receives a hot pack on his wound. This pack will draw up any infection that's present and we can scrub away any dead tissue. He likes these treatments, and he often purrs and kneads his paws. After the treatment is done, we clean his wound thoroughly with an antiseptic, and daub of antibiotic cream on the wound. We also check him for fever or pain. All seems to be well, at the moment.

Not a great Christmas gift for Jasper, to be sure, but I am happy that nothing too very serious is happening here. And, I am doubly glad that he is up-to-date on his vaccines. If he's going to fight, he'll need the extra dose of immunity. Otherwise, he could come home with something much more serious than a simple scratch. And I'm glad that he trusts us enough to show us his war wounds, long before they become abscesses.