February 1, 2010 "Ask Seth"

My outdoor cat has had swelling and soreness around the base of his tail for a few days. What could this be?


Hi Seth,

My outdoor cat has had some swelling and soreness around the base of his tail for a few days. Today he seems lethargic and is not acting normally. He is not neutered and does fight from time to time.  I shaved the hair and there are some small red bumps. What could this be?  

Abigail, AZ


With the description you provided it sounds like your cat has a bite wound abscess. The small red bumps may be puncture wound from a cat bite. The base of the tail is a common place for these abscesses. Other areas are the face, neck and legs. The swelling means that the abscess is closed under the skin. Usually a vet will need to open the wound and flush out the infected debris. A larger or painful abscess may require sedation to allow the vet to properly clean the wound. In some severe cases, it may require surgical repair. Vets will often place a rubber drain in larger abscesses to allow for the removal of pus. Antibiotics will be prescribed and should be given exactly as prescribed until completion. Healing time for a small abscess usually takes from 1-2 weeks while larger ones can take much longer. The sooner treatment is started, the shorter the healing time will be. If your Rabies vaccine is up to date, your vet may want to booster this vaccine. Feline immunodeficiency (FIV) and feline leukemia (FELV) testing can be done to see if your animal can transmit these two deadly diseases. 


Seth Mayersohn, CVT


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