bite wound abscesses in cats

 Bite Wound Abscesses In Cats | Bengal cat grooming himself on windowsill
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Aug 29 2011

Like us, our pets are social creatures. But, also like us, they don’t always get along. This is especially true with our fickle feline friends. If you have a cat that spends a lot of time outdoors, you may already be familiar with the topic of this blog: bite wound abscesses. If you aren’t, consider yourself lucky!

What is a bite wound abscess?

An abscess is a collection of pus that results from a bite wound. No matter how fastidiously cats bathe themselves, their mouths are teeming with bacteria. When their sharp teeth bite into flesh, they act like needles, inoculating the skin with the bacteria on their teeth. Because the actual bite wound is small, it seals up almost immediately, trapping all of that infection inside.

Signs and symptoms 

You may be aware that your cat has been in a fight, or you may have no idea. If your cat has developed an abscess, you will notice a pocket of fluid under his skin accompanied by a bite mark or scab. If the pocket has not ruptured, your cat will likely have a fever, leading him to go off his food and be lethargic. Generally, this lack of appetite is the first thing owners notice when they bring their kitty in to see us.

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If the abscess has ruptured, you will see a sore that drains pungent fluid. Your cat will probably be paying extra attention to this area in an attempt to keep it clean. At this point, your cat’s fever will probably break as the infection is able to drain.


Regardless of whether your cat’s abscess has ruptured or not, he still needs to see his veterinarian. If the abscess has not ruptured, it will need to be lanced and thoroughly flushed. Often, sedation will be needed for this to be done safely and without pain. Even if the abscess has ruptured at home, your cat may still need surgery to clear away devitalized skin tissue and may require a rubber drain and stitches. Your cat will be sent home with antibiotics or given an antibiotic injection to help clear the infection. And if you planned ahead for the unexpected and protected your cat with Petplan pet insurance, even accidents such as this can be covered by Petplan pet insurance, letting you concentrate on what is really important - helping kitty recover.

I wish we all got along, but the reality is that sometimes we just cannot agree! This is why it is especially important to maintain current vaccinations in your pets. Rabies, feline leukemia, and feline infectious peritonitis are lethal diseases spread by bites. There is no test for rabies, but there is a quarantine period if his vaccine is out of date. If your cat is bitten in a fight, a feline leukemia/FIV test should be run about two months after the fight to make sure he maintains his negative status.

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