As an attentive cat owner, you very likely know when your cat has an abscess. An abscess is a very painful wound that becomes infected and more often than not, requiring drainage from a veterinarian. Common causes of abscesses are wounds derived from cat fights. Scratches and bites are very effective means of bacterial infection, therefore, outdoor cats involved in fights are very prone to abscesses. A cat with an abscess will require prompt care in order to speed up the recovery process. Delays in treating an abscess will only make the prognosis more severe.
Common symptoms of an abscessed wound in cats are:
- Painful wound similar to a lump
- Warm skin
- In advanced cases:
- Loss of appetite
Some abscesses may heal on their own, but more often than not, many need prompt veterinary treatment. Treatment consists of lancing the wound if the abscess has not ruptured. This will be done under general anesthesia or with heavy sedation because it can be pretty painful. The lancing procedure will empty the abscess from the pus and the wound will be properly flushed. The cat then may be prescribed a course of antibiotics to prevent infection.
At home, the cat may be helped by applying warm compresses for about 10 minutes a day for 3-4 times a day. This will encourage blood flow to the area expediting healing. If the abscess has ruptured the wound will need cleaned and disinfected. The cat will need to be discouraged from licking the area to avoid further bacteria from inhabiting the already vulnerable wound. In some cases, an Elizabethan collar will be necessary. An Elizabeth collar better known as E- collar is a collar shaped like a lamp shade that will make the wound area unreachable since the cat will have trouble turning its head.
Often, the abscess may appear to be healing, only to flare up days later. The reason behind this is the cat’s skin working on attempting to close the wound, only to trap the bacteria inside in a long, painful chain reaction.
Abscesses require veterinary attention. Untreated and neglected, an abscess may cause a wide spread infection that may upgrade to a life threatening case of septicemia (blood poisoning). Upon drainage, owners may be surprised that the abscess has turned out into a large unsutured wound. Sutures are not used to allow the wound to dry. Abscesses therefore, look worse than they were upon bringing the cat to the hospital. With time, the cat will heal and the painful abscess will be only a memory of the past..