Tuesday, January 3, 2012

When cat abscess home care fails

Jasper the cat snuggling with his cat brother
Jasper is clearly enjoying his pain medications.
Over the past week or so, my husband and I have been treating Jasper at home for a small cut on his neck (I first wrote about that problem here.). Several times per day, we swabbed out the wound and applied hot packs to draw the infection out. Often, this can help tiny wounds heal before they become abscesses.

Unfortunately, sometimes all the best home care in the world can't keep an abscess from taking hold. We found that out the hard way this week.

An abscess is a pocket of infection deep beneath the skin. Since cat skin tends to heal quickly, the skin can grow right over that pocket and the infection can fester deep below. It's hard to get to that deep pocket without severely injuring the cat. As we discovered with Jasper, attacking the infection from the outside is sometimes not enough. He developed a hot spot on his neck that smelled simply terrible, and soon, he wouldn't allow us to provide home care. He was just too painful.

So, into the vet he went yesterday and he had a sedated abscess repair. The vet opened up that wound and cleaned it out thoroughly in a way that Jasper would have never allowed had he been awake. All dead tissue was cut away, and the puss was cleaned away. Then, Jasper got a shot of antibiotics and some lovely pain medications he seems to enjoy.

All of this work cost in excess of $300, which isn't something we're pleased about. I had hoped that home care would help us save a bundle. But sometimes, big expenses just can't be avoided and we pet owners have to dig deep to get our critters the help they need.

A day later, and Jasper already seems much improved. The wound is shrinking in size, and it doesn't seem hot or soft to the touch. He is eating well and feeling great. In the end, that's probably worth the price.