Cats will be cats and wounds from fights with other felines are common. Some wounds are obvious but others are disguised by matted fur or well hidden beneath a lustrous coat. It’s important to note that even the most insignificant of scratches may need veterinary attention as wounds from cat fights are likely to result in infection.
What causes an infection?
All animals have a lot of bacteria in their mouths or under their nails. When a cat bites or scratches another they inadvertently inject bacteria to the wound. A puncture can be tiny and the skin will seal within a few hours leaving a hidden danger below the surface. The trapped bacteria will manifest and over a few days the puncture site will swell and can become quite painful.
The two most common infections that can form are:
Abscess – a pocket of pus develops and the bacteria multiplies causing swelling. The pocket can seep or rupture over time whoever, when left untreated it can become quite painful.
Cellulitis – the infection spreads through the tissues causing cellulitis.
On occasion, when a scratch or bite penetrates beyond the skin or tissue, other infections can occur. These include infection within the joints (Septic Arthritis), infection in the bones (Osteomyelitis) or infection in the chest cavity (Pyothorax).
What should you do with a cat wound?
If you know (or suspect) your cat has bite or scratch wounds it is best to seek veterinary attention. This is also the case for small or insignificant wounds. The chance of infection is high when not cleaned thoroughly. Early intervention with antibiotics will usually stop the infection, preventing the development of an abscess which would result in more veterinary treatment.
Treatment for a cat abscess can require general anaesthetic. The feline is anaesthetised to prevent distress and allow the team to work quickly shaving, cleaning and disinfecting the area. The wound will need to be flushed with sterile saline and any dead tissue removed. Severe cases may need a drain inserted to allow drainage from the wound site as well as sutures. Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and pain relief will be dispensed based on the severity of the injury.
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