Abscesses are quite a common problem in cats. Abscess is a pocket of pus accumulated under the skin. Abscesses can be a result of any injury, but it is most commonly a result of bite wounds.
Cats that have an access to the outdoors are most prone to be get injures and develop an abscess. Cats, especially un-neutered males, are very territorial in nature. Whether they’re wondering off to the neighbor’s yards or protecting their own territory from invaders, those outdoors-kept adventurous cats tend to get engaged in street fights and get injured.
The mouth is probably the most contaminated organ in the animal’s body. When the animal gets bitten, the bacteria from the mouth penetrates into the skin causing an infection. Initially there are no signs of the bite wound. Usually the bite mark is well-hidden under the fur. Typically the problem becomes evident a few days after the incident.
The initial bite puncture wounds tend to heal up very fast, creating a warm, moist and ideal environment for the bacteria to grow and multiply under the skin. Unable to be drained through the healed skin, the pus accumulates in a capsule under the skin. The abscess typically appears 3 to 5 days after the incident.T he affected area tends to swell up, gets warm and very painful. Often, the infection affects the cat’s general well being and it appears sick (fever, inappetence and lethargy).
The best course of action in case of an abscess is an early relief of the pressure by drainage of the pus and an antibiotic course to treat the infection. If left untreated, the skin stretches and stretches until the pressure becomes too great and the abscess ruptures, leaving a large laceration in the skin that often is too large to heal on its own and has to be treated surgically.
If the wound gets diagnosed early, before the abscess forms, antibiotics alone may be sufficient enough for treating the problem.
Prevention of abscess wounds can be tricky. Many people believe that having indoor/outdoor lifestyle is important for the cat’s quality of life. Unfortunately, along with the pleasures and adventures the outdoors has to offer, there is also the potential danger.
Neutering your cat will probably reduce its aggressive territorial behaviour that characterize intact male cats. If your cat has an access to the outdoors or has a peer at home that it tends to fight with, pay attention to sudden sensitivity or pain reaction in a certain area. Shaving the sore area frequently can reveal marks of bite wounds. An antibiotic therapy in this stage, is usually successful in preventing the abscess formation.
Like with any other diseases and conditions, knowledge is power. Understanding abscess formation and nature, being attentive to this matter by frequent petting, and seeking veterinary care in case of any signs noticed, can and will save both you and your kitty a lot of grief.
Dr. Moshe Oz operates the Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital in West Kelowna, 2476 Westlake Rd. 250-769-9109 www.KelownaVet.ca.