Cat Fight Abscesses

As spring comes along each year, we see a rash of cat fight abscesses. When a client brings their family cat to me, I usually hear something like: “Dr. Rannals, my cat got into a fight last week, now he won’t eat and he has a swelling near his tail.”

Intact male “Tom” cats (sometimes females) like to explore around during the evening hours when it cools off and often come in contact with your normally friendly family cat. Meows are exchanged, a fight ensues, and your cat gets bitten. Usually it’s around the tail area or around the face. After all the screaming subsides and the fight is over, your cat comes back home with a new set of bacteria under it’s skin that was a parting gift from the other cat. A few days later infection sets in, fever goes up, and your cat gets sick.

An abscess finally forms, a pocket of pus that is the body’s reaction to all the bacteria. It builds, swells, then finally ruptures, spewing out smelly greenish brown pus.

Cat fight abscesses are nearly always a surgical problem. It’s not wise to “just let it heal on it’s own” because those same bacteria can affect the cat’s bone marrow if left to themselves. So, in our hospital, an anesthetic is given. Then after prep, the wound is opened further to expose all the dead dying tissue. That is removed, the wound flushed with a special antibiotic. Usually in our hospital the wound if then safe to close allowing it to heal quicker. Sometimes the infection is so bad that part of it has to be left open to drain or drain tubes are placed.

Antibiotics are given by injection and usually some oral meds are sent home with the owner. We remove the sutures in around 12 days.

Another dangerous problem from these cat fights is the transmission of some really bad viruses given by the carrier stray cat. Feline leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency virus are the two most deadly and prominent. So it’s vitally important for your kitty to be properly vaccinated.

The best way to prevent cat fight abscesses is to prevent cat fights… duh. And the best way to do that is to keep your cat indoors. Statistically, cats live twice as long if kept indoors. The next best thing is to at least keep kitty indoors at night. Most of the bad things cats get into happen at night.

Please call us at the Rannals Small Animal Hospital if you have questions or need an appointment at 903-839-7235.