For many cat owners, cat abscesses, and sores can be a serious concern, and more often than not, an ongoing problem. For the majority of cats that get abscesses, or sores, it is generally more prevalent in the spring. The main reason, for this is due to cats being allowed outside during the warmer weather, and getting into fights with other cats.
Let us take a closer look at what abscesses are, what causes them, along with the symptoms, and treatments that a cat owner can expect regarding this topic.
Cat Abscesses and Sores – How do cats get them?
- An abscess on a cat is a build up of pus that has generally resulted from a bite from another cat. There are other causes of cat abscesses, though this is probably the most common reason, due to cats being territorial, and often getting into fights where territories overlap. Abscesses often go unnoticed for the first day, or two, but there are signs one can look out for during the early stages of an abscess. If left too long, the abscess can burst through the skin, and leave an open sore, which should be treated straight away.
- Abscesses occur when a puncture is made in the skin of the cat, this could be from another cats claw, or teeth while fighting. The cats skin can very quickly heal over, leaving a nice warm, moist pocket for bacteria to thrive, and continue to multiply uninterrupted. In addition, four, or five days after the initial bite, an abscess can be felt, or even seen, depending on how bad the infection is. Not all wounds will develop an abscess, as it just depends on the bite, amount of bacteria released when bitten, and the cats own ability to fight off infections.
- There are signs, or symptoms you can look out for regarding abscesses and sores, the more obvious sign is an open sore, which occurs once the abscess has burst. Before this happens however, you may notice your cat develop an appetite loss, or become much less active for no apparent reason. Furthermore, the cat may not want to be touched, or to play, or may sit in a hunched position for long periods of time. He, or she may also develop a fever, which you may notice if they are warm to the touch.
- Another sign your cat may have an abscess is that they may start to limp, depending on where the abscess is, and if combined with one, or more of the symptoms above, it would be suggested to examine the cat more closely. Now, the more obvious signs are that when you pet your cat, you may notice a lump under the skin, or an inflamed area, which will be hot to the touch. It is not always obvious when a cat has an abscess due to their dense fur, which is why it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for any of the above symptoms.
- Keeping cats indoors at night, especially during spring, can help to reduce the chances of them getting into fights, which in turn can lead to abscesses and sores. With that said, perhaps having a male cat neutered is one of the most effective ways of reducing the chances of abscesses. This is partly due to the fact that they won’t be, so aggressive when it comes to fighting, and may even avoid fighting. This is a decision that one has to make based on individual situations, as not everyone wants to have their cat neutered, although it has been proven to make them less aggressive.
- If an abscess bursts, or ruptures, there will generally be a brown, or yellowish color pus come out through a hole in the skin. This pus can be quite foul in smell, but the cat may start to feel better, and even get their appetite back, once that takes place. Although at this point it is highly recommended that you take your cat to the Veterinarian, to help treat the infection properly. Keep in mind, that there are some things you can do if, the cat will co-operate with you, and allow you to touch him or her. A burst abscess can be quite a mess, as well as smelly, and it may not be a convenient time to take them to the Vet, so taking some at home steps can help ease the abscess until the Vet can see the pet.
- With that said, you may need to clip away any matted fur in the surrounding area of the sore or wound, and wash the area with warm salty water. Do not use alcohol as this will hurt your cat, instead use the warm salt water to wash away any excess discharge. Clean the area thoroughly, assuming your cat will allow this. A compress held on the wound for a few minutes can loosen any matted fur to make it easier to clean, and your cat may even like this, a wash cloth soaked in very warm water should suffice as a compress.
- As with all open wounds on pets, it is highly recommended that you get your cat to the Veterinarian as soon as possible. Most abscesses, or open sores like these will almost always require the need of some type of antibiotic. Even if the wound doesn’t look that bad to you, it is always best to get a professional opinion to error on the side of caution. In some cases the Vet will put in a drain for a time to allow future build up of pus to drain away, this is simply a small rubber tubing that will exit at the base of the wound.
- Early detection can be the best medicine when it comes to cat abscesses and sores. If, you think your cat has been in a fight, you should examine him, or her thoroughly to check for bite, or puncture marks. Remember, even the smallest of holes can run deep, and are almost always infectious, so check for matting, and tufts of hair out of place where a puncture mark may be. There is no specific place to check, because in a cat fight they can get bitten on the neck, legs, back and face, and often get bit while running away too.
- Once you know what to look for, and how to spot possible cat abscesses before they get too serious, you can save yourself, and your cat some unwelcome sick days. Always take your cat to the Veterinarian if, they are in pain, not eating their food, or if an abscess ruptures, but does not start to heal within 48 hrs. Finally, while the person can start off treating the abscess at home, always keep in mind, that if an abscess does not rupture you should take the cat to the Vet as soon as possible, as these infections can lead to more serious problems, if left unattended.
10 thoughts on “Cat Abscesses and Sores – Symptoms and Treatments”
I’ve found your article very interesting and helpful!
I have two cats, one live outside and the other one live inside and outside of the house. Both of my cats got into fights many times and came back few days after with some injuries on the neck and on the face. I knew that it was due to the fights, and never took it seriously, I guess because the injuries weren’t grave. But next time, I will take a look closer to see if there isn’t any infection.
Thank you very much for these important information!
Many thanks for that feedback and I am pleased you liked the information in the article. Our current tom cat Oscar, an ex stray cat that we took into our care, has also been into lots of territorial fights with other cats. We now keep him indoors at nights which has helped to minimize his injuries from fighting. For most minor cuts we apply Betadine antiseptic liquid on a cotton ball to his wounds which seems to work well as the wounds generally heal up in a few days. Saves us lots of money on vet bills!
Thanks for this article. It sort of makes me feel better for being over protective and not letting cats go outside. The only time I would let a cat outside is if I was there within sight. I have, for some reason, always felt more safe giving the dog free range of the yard but the cat inside the house.
I often hear other cats at night fighting, especially Stella, the cat across the street. I often wonder to myself, why does my neighbor let her cat out at night and especially since we live on a somewhat well traveled street. I would be afraid to do that. I guess that is why I never do.
But it is nice to know about what to look out for should the time ever come from an puncturewound or injury from another cat. Thanks for the advice.
I love your article. I have owned ton’s of animals. I did find one symptom of abscess’s before they actually rupture and that is a clear-ish yellow oily liquid and I have always found the hair is willing to fall out around it if given a very very gentle pull. This is my go to symptoms lol. Great advice on taking animals to see the vet!
Thank you for that feedback Kathryn. With the cats we have owned we always treat minor abscess infections ourselves rather than struggling to get our cat into the cat cage and taking him to the vet. Applying small amounts of anti infection ointment like Betadine antiseptic liquid on to the wound will generally speed up the healing process and be less costly to the owner!
I don’t have a cat but I have owned many dogs in my life. My question is, in cold weather, especially back east in the winter time, are there any protective boots that I can put on my dog, or in your case, your cat, that will stay on their feet in the frozen tundra? I like your site, even though I don’t have a cat.
Thanks for those comments Brad. Yes there is certainly a good range of Winter protective clothing for both cats and dogs in the market place. You can see a range of what is on offer at the following link:-
Hope this helps you.
My female cat was spayed and after surgery we visited her in the vets hospital. The next day the hospital worker called us and told us that our cat was not eating and would we take her home. We did so but she refused to eat and went missing for a day. When she returned we noticed the same scenario as shown in the picture no.2 on this page. Her left side of face and mouth was swollen. Could this be because of a fight between cats in the vets hospital or from a fight during the day she missing from home???
Thanks for your feedback Vinay. In all probability the swelling would have been as a result of a cat fight after the visit to the vet. Apply an antiseptic lotion to the wound and it should clear up after a few days. If it doesn’t make an appointment with your vet to have the wound examined.