Ask Seth: Outdoor Cat With Abscess

My cat has an abscess on his hindquarters. He is an outside cat who stays close to home. Where did this come from and what causes it? How do I treat this?

 

Dear Seth,

My cat has an abscess on his hindquarters. He is an outside cat and usually stays pretty close to the house. Where did this come from and what causes it? How do I treat this?

- Brittney, Chicago, IL


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Brittney:

Outside cats, especially males, fight for the territory where they roam. If there is a higher density of cats in your area, then you will usually observe a higher frequency of fight wounds. First and foremost, it is your responsibility as a pet owner to make sure your animal is fully vaccinated against Rabies. This is required by law and it will protect your family against the deadly virus.

Abscesses are caused when an animal is bitten, and the other animal’s teeth penetrate the skin. The small puncture wounds will try to heal and scab over within hours. This traps the bacteria from the other animal’s mouth under the bitten cat’s skin. These bacteria, most commonly Pasteurella and Streptococcus, thrive in low oxygen environments and multiply rapidly. It may take a few days before swelling and pain are observed. The swelling and pain is due to the pocket of pus that forms as a reaction to the bacteria, which will also result in an increased temperature.

If you see a rise in temperature or noticeable pain or swelling, your cat should be seen by a veterinarian. Treatment usually starts with draining the abscess, cleaning the area and administering oral antibiotics. Follow your veterinarian’s advice and the abscess should be resolved in a week or two.

 

Seth Mayersohn, CVT

 

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