One of my clients had an especially exciting day a few weeks ago, but not in an upbeat way. She was prepared to spend the day thinking about doing something else, but instead had to divert her attention to one of her cats.
First thing in the morning, she noticedthat every time she looked at him, her cat was licking his rump area.It’s normal to see your cat cleaning himself, but if he continuallylicks at one particular area, it’s not normal. She tried to look atthe area, but he wasn’t very cooperative, and the fur made it hardto spot anything.
She called the vet andmade an appoinment for later in the day to get him checked. Shewatched him in the meantime, noting that other than the licking, heseemed okay. He was eating, drinking, and going potty just fine.
At the vet appointment later that day, the doctor lightly anesthetizedher very hostile and uncooperative cat and shaved his rump toreveal the problem – an abscess.
WHAT’S AN ABSCESS?
An abscess is a wound that has become infected, filled withpus and fluids. It is painful and can rupture, leaving an open sore.Most abscesses in cats are caused by other cats in a fight, or ifyour cat plays outside, by other critters such as squirrels orgophers, or even by a foreign object like a wood splinter.
When a cat suffers a bite or scratch, the skin might heal, butthe bacteria that was introduced into the cat is trapped under theskin. That’s where the trouble begins. The cat’s immune system triesto fight the infection with white blood cells and proteins, butbecause all of that is trapped, the area swells up and causes pain. Ifleft untreated, an abscess can sometimes heal on its own, but it canalso get worse and cause blood poisoning, illness, and even death.
HOW IS IT TREATED?
My client got to watch as the vettreated her cat’s abscess. The vet shaved all the fur around theabscess and squeezed the area to release as much pus and fluid aspossible. That is the first step in getting rid of the abscess -releasing all that pus so that the wound can begin healing.
He then cleaned it out thoroughly and applied medication directlyto the wound. He injected antibiotics into the cat, and alsoprescribed antibiotic tablets that her cat had to take for 10 days.The abscess wasn’t that bad, so the doctor didn’t have to insert asurgical drain. He instructed her to keep an eye on him, and if hiswound was still draining a bit, wipe it with a little hydrogen peroxide.
To prevent her cat from licking his openwound and reinfecting it, he placed a plastic Elizabethan collar aroundhis neck. After that, he was ready to go home and get better!
For the next 10 days, my client fed her cat themedicine, cleaned his wound with peroxide when necessary, and kepta close eye on his rump and his behavior. He moped around for a fewdays because he disliked the collar, but he didn’t seem to be in painand ate, drank, and went potty as usual.
She kept his collar onuntil she saw that the wound was almost 100% healed because she knew thatas soon as she took it off, he would begin grooming himself.
About 2 weeks after the vet visit, the cat was out of the collar,and the only evidence that remained of his abscess experience was ashaved behind.
WATCH FOR SYMPTOMS
Myclient was lucky in that she spotted some unusual behavior quicklyand got her cat treated before he became very ill. It always helps tobe observant with your pet(s), noting their usual habits andbehaviors. If your pet shows any of the following symptoms, you maywant to take him to the vet for a checkup.
- Sleeping more than usual
- Loss of appetite
- Signs of pain when you touch him
- Loss of interest in usual play/activity