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PETS’ CORNER Kitty been in the wars?

Living

A wound sustained in a cat fight can easily turn into nasty abscess.
CAT FIGHT
?A wound sustained in a cat fight can easily turn into nasty abscess. 

Kitty been in the wars?


There isn’t a week that goes by without a cat (or a few cats!) with an abscess coming to my practice. Tomcats in particular tend to fight a lot amongst each other, and they end up with wounds that can result in abscesses.
An abscess forms when an infected wound heals over on the surface, trapping the infection inside. The result is a swollen, hot and extremely painful abscess.
Often the cat gets a high temperature and goes off his food. A cat owner might notice the cat limping or being ‘off form’, not eating and being cranky. The cat can be in a lot of pain, so be careful not to touch the abscess. Sometimes, the abscess bursts and smelly pus runs out of the wound. The wound may or may not heal over, but most of the time it needs veterinary attention.
Abscesses are most frequent on the face, the base of the tail and the legs – places where cats tend to bite each other. Sometimes the abscess has burst already, and there is a smelly, draining sore. The fever often breaks when the abscess has opened. You might not be able to see the wound, but you will probably be able to smell it, or see the pus coming out of it.
If the abscess has burst already and the cat is licking it, you might see a red and raw area.
If the cat is licking the wound extensively, it might lick away the hair and the wound can become more visible. When the wound is buried deep in the fur or muscle it might not be possible to see the abscess at all, but the area of the abscess might be very tender to touch.
In all these cases veterinary attention is needed. The abscess needs to be lanced and the puss drained away. After that, it needs to be cleaned properly and the cat needs antibiotics. Sometimes when the abscess is very big, the puss first needs to be drained away with a special rubber drain, which might take some time. If the wound is too big to heal on its own accord, it might need surgery when the infection is gone.
When your cat gets an abscess it is also important to look at how this happened in the first place. If your cat is not neutered it is a good idea to neuter him so he isn’t inclined to fight as much. If your cat is already neutered and is being harassed by another cat, the other cat needs to be neutered. If the other cat is a feral cat it can be trapped, neutered and returned to the place where it was caught afterwards.
Keep in the back of your mind that feline AIDS and feline leukaemia are spread by biting. If you want to test your cat for this afterwards you will have to wait at least 2 months for the virus to incubate.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to vaccinate against Feline AIDS (FIV) but you can vaccinate against feline leukaemia. Both diseases are very common around Ireland. So if your kitty is in contact with other cats, it is a good idea to get him vaccinated.