A cat fight abscess or cat abscess is an infected lump beneath the cats skin. An abscess is a fairly common ailment in cats, especially outdoor cats. A cat abscess may be unnoticed until it bursts, forming an open wound.
Cause of a Cat Fight Abscess
A small puncture wound can cause a lot of trouble for a cat. A puncture wound in the cats skin is usually caused by another cats claw or bite, but can also happen due to a splinter or other foreign object embedded in the skin.
Cats claws and teeth are sharp and loaded with bacteria. When bacteria invade a puncture wound, they multiply and cause infection. Cats have tough, fast-healing skin. New skin forms quickly over the growing infection, trapping the bacteria beneath.
To fight the infection, the cats bone marrow releases white blood cells. The white blood cells create pus at the site of the wound. A lump or swelling, otherwise known as an abscess, forms about two to four days after the initial puncture injury.
Common locations for an abscess are the legs, tail, face and neck. The abscess can be firm or soft, and may feel warm to the touch. If the infection invades the tissue, it causes diffuse swelling (cellulitis) instead of a localized lump.
Symptoms of Abscess in Cats
The abscess is sensitive and painful. Untreated, it will continue to swell and will eventually burst. Before the abscess bursts, the cat might exhibit signs of illness as the body works to fight infection, including:
- lethargy or melancholy
- loss of appetite
- dull fur
- sleeping more than usual
- dull eyes
- excess scratching and/or biting at the site of the wound
- sensitivity to touch
- swollen lymph nodes
Some cats show no early symptoms, or very mild symptoms. Its easy to miss the forming abscess, especially if the cat has long hair or if the swelling is diffuse.
When the abscess bursts, it releases foul-smelling pus, blood and bacteria. Pus may appear brown or yellowish. Often, the burst abscess or an open abscess wound is the first noticeable sign of the infection.
Bursting the Abscess
If an abscess has formed but hasnt burst, its best to take the cat to a vet and have the abscess treated under sterile conditions. The vet may anesthetize the cat to properly lance or drain the abscess, to remove dead tissue and clean the wound thoroughly to treat and prevent infection. Almost all cat fight abscess wounds will be infected.
The vet can prescribe antibiotics and administer any necessary shots. A cat fight injury puts the cat at risk for infectious diseases such as
- feline leukemia (FeLV)
- feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
If the abscess has already burst and the cat is otherwise in good health, the wound can be treated at home. See: How to Treat a Cat Fight Abscess Wound.