Abscesses are a serious condition that warrant treatment — and frankly, they are pretty fun to treat. At Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital, we generally see abscesses in our feline patients who spend time outdoors socializing with other neighborhood cats and creatures, since abscesses are usually caused by a bite from another animal. We tend see to them on the back part of a cat’s body, although they can occur anywhere. Typically, a cat will receive such a bite while running away from a predator — and trying to escape a potentially much more serious injury (or worse).
Because most cats are furry, a puncture wound or bite wound will typically be covered by hair, so it will be difficult to spot. And when your cat returns home, it likely will resume its normal activity (eating and sleeping), so you probably won’t suspect a thing. But after a bite, there’s often trouble brewing beneath your cat’s skin.
Bite wounds frequently cause small punctures where bacteria from the predator’s teeth are having a grand old time. The skin wound seals up, and the bacteria continue to multiply and fester below the skin surface. About four days after a bite takes place, you may start to notice that your kitty’s appetite is diminished, or that it doesn’t want to come out from under a bed. In short, your cat just may not be acting like its normal, happy self.
At this point, your cat needs to see a veterinarian. Most cats with an abscess will have a fever — and if left untreated, a simple ailment can spiral out of control and become a much larger, more serious medical issue. Dehydration is also common in these cases, since cats who are feeling crummy tend not to eat and drink as they should.
At Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital, in this kind of situation, a full physical exam will be performed on your pet, and an estimate will be presented to you before any treatments are carried out. Generally in this circumstance, your cat will need to be sedated for treatment, and the abscess will need to be lanced. The wound will be flushed out, and often a drain will be surgically placed so that the wound does not seal right back up. The wound will need to drain for 2-3 days, after which time the drain can be removed by your family veterinarian.
Antibiotics and sometimes pain medication will be dispensed to take care of the infection and treat your cat’s discomfort. We often offer an injectable antibiotic that lasts for 2 weeks, in order to keep you from the hassles of trying to get your cat to take an antibiotic pill or liquid at home.
Recovery from an abscess generally takes a few days, but your cat should perk up and want to eat and drink normally within 24-48 hours. If at that point your kitty still isn’t feeling up to snuff, a recheck exam should be scheduled as soon as possible.
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