If you own a cat there is a very high chance that you play with him or her a lot during the run of a day. Have you ever noticed any lumps or swollen spots that the cat reacts to when touched? You are most likely dealing with an abscess and they are usually formed when other damage doesn’t heal well.
An abscess can be very painful but, by themselves, can normally rupture and eventually heal. Your major issue here is why the abscess formed in the first place and getting that injury properly dealt with. Also, do you really want to be the one to deal with a rupturing, puss-filled abscess?
Now rupturing is not necessarily a bad thing for the abscess, as it will certainly be a lot less painful for your feline friend. Unless you get to the root of the problem this will just keep happening like the cycle of the seasons. If it seems your cat is in a lot of pain, you should always get a professional to take a look.
Cats Have Similarities To Us
While you may not think about it a lot, we do have certain things in common with our cats. One of the most common similarities is sensitive skin and skin irritations. Our skin is very similar when it comes to what affects it and the types of conditions that can occur. Anyone would understand your fear when you find a large painful lump on your cat, but abscesses are far more common than you may think.
The abscess, as noted, really isn’t the main problem, yet infections can occur on top of the underlying condition that caused the abscess. For the sake of your own sanity and the health of your loved one, take your cat to a vet at the first sign of an abscess. It is better to be safe than sorry with your pets, and you may be preventing something more serious from happening.
Abscesses: What Exactly Are They?
An abscess in a cat is no different from that of a human, it is an area that is infected from not healing properly. This area swells up, becomes red and painful, and is filled with pus and lots of other nasty things. An abscess can be really hard or even squishy feeling depending on how much buildup is inside.
You will normally hear an abscess referred to with its location in the body; if it has one. These ones are normally not as visible or easy to find. When it comes to the surface abscesses they will be very noticeable and may end up rupturing, and you need to be prepared. This stuff will look foul and smell even worse. It is important that this gets cleaned up quickly so there is no chance of further tissue damage.
Signs Your Cat Has An Abscess
As if the pain from an abscess wasn’t enough for your cat to endure, there are much worse problems that can develop if this is left untreated. Immune system viruses and even feline leukemia are possibilities if an abscess gets out of control. They are going to be susceptible to infections and it is up to you to monitor conditions such as fevers.
Internal abscesses will more often cause more problems, as the bacteria is going to be hard on their system. If an internal abscess were to burst and get into the cat’s bloodstream it could cause a major blood infection, which can be critical. Internal infections can be fatal to pets and it is so important to make sure you do whatever you can to monitor their condition.
You need to be careful and protect the health of your furry companion; so look for these signs and keep your vet’s phone number handy:
- Your cat is in physical pain
- The site is sensitive to the touch
- Your cat doesn’t walk the same
- Fatigue and drooling
- Fever and swelling of the face
- Noticeable blood or pus
- The skin is red and swollen
- Your cat won’t eat and has bleeding gums
The problem with abscesses is that they can occur just about anywhere and may not show any symptoms for a long time.
When An Abscess Ruptures
Sometimes you will be able to locate the abscess before it ruptures, but a lot of the time you won’t be so lucky. If tissues die near an injury it develops an open area where bacteria mixes with dead skin and white blood cells to form our lovely friend pus. As the volume of the pus grows it creates more pressure under the skin which will eventually get to the point of exploding.
If your cat’s abscess ruptures you will have a disgusting smelling yellow fluid to deal with unless it is too far under the skin. If the abscess is further down in the skin a good bit of pressure should show an indent if it has ruptured. Keep your eyes peeled for abscesses on the limbs and tail, neck and head, as well as the back.
What Causes Abscesses in Cats?
An abscess can form for a variety of different reasons, but the most common way is from an open wound. Your cat may also be at risk if there are any major dental problems or if they get stuck with a sharp object. Keep your eyes open for any of these things.
Cats will be cats and get into fights, and sometimes they leave bite wounds and the likes. Since there are so many bacteria floating around inside a cats’ mouth, there is a very high risk of infection. Not all cats will have the type of bacteria that will result in an abscess, but there is no way to tell without getting professional help.
There are a variety of different bacteria that can cause an abscess, and some of the more common are:
- Staph and Streptococcus
- Actinomyces, Bartonella, and Corynebacterium
- Nocardia, Pasteurella multocida, and Pseudomonas
It is important to keep in mind that bacteria can not live in an oxygen-rich environment, as oxygen is their enemy.
There are so many ways a cat could damage its teeth and gums that dental abscesses can happen quite easily. Whether it is a broken tooth or even a tiny cut on the gums, if bad bacteria can get in it most likely will. Bacteria will look for any opening to start doing damage in a cats’ mouth. Make sure to keep an eye on your cats’ dental health.
The other more common cause of abscesses is being stabbed by some type of foreign object. Everything out there is going to have different types of bacteria on it, and something like a rusty nail can cause a whole host of infection problems. These injuries will most likely be very noticeable and easier to deal with.
How to Diagnose an Abscess
If your cat is showing signs of an abscess your only job is to get them to the vet and have a medical professional take over. They will start out by doing a preliminary exam to get a better idea of what they are dealing with. As it is a very common condition amongst cats your vet will most likely make a diagnosis based on initial observations.
If the abscess is internal it sometimes will require additional tests to be performed, just to be certain. X-rays and bacteria cultures are the best ways to be certain of the diagnosis. Your biggest job is to relay as much information about your cat as you can to help them diagnose properly.
How to Treat an Abscess
Treating an abscess does not consist of anything overly complicated, but it can be an unpleasant process for your cat. The boils created by the abscess need to be lanced and drained fully to ensure no further infection. This may need to happen with some anesthesia if it is a lot to lance and drain, it all depends on the individual case. In more severe cases a drain will be installed to keep the infection inside the wound to deter another abscess from forming.
If your cat is dealing with a dental abscess, things will be very different and involve something like removing the infected tooth or doing a root canal. Your vet will be able to give you more information on your specific case.
Depending on your cat and the severity of the infection you may need to go on a special diet for a while. The normal protocol of antibiotics and pain medication should be given to you by your vet with instructions on how to properly dispense it. You should start to see full health coming back within two to three weeks, maybe longer for more severe cases. Just make sure you keep a close watch on your critter and follow all the advice and instructions given by your veterinarian.
You need to also be careful to keep your cat away from any treated areas. Animals have a tendency to scratch and bite at wounds, so keep your guard up. As well, even if your cat seems perfectly healthy it is never a good idea to stop treatment before your vet tells you to. Antibiotics take time to work properly and need to be used as prescribed.
If you do notice that your cat is not getting any better you should not wait to get them back to the vet. Infections can take over quickly and there may be other treatment options available.
How to Prevent an Abscess
Prevention is going to depend mostly on whether you have an indoor or outdoor cat. Outdoor cats need to be watched more carefully as they tend to get into more fights and trouble in general. Indoor cats do run the risk of infections from inside the home, but other cats are normally the main culprit.
Another important thing your veterinarian will be able to help you with is keeping on top of all the vaccinations your cat will require. These will also help in preventing rabies, AIDS, Leukemia, and many other horrible things. Your cat deserves a fighting chance, so keep your eyes open and vaccines up to date, and get to the vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary.