An abscess is a localized area of infection that generally looks like a lump or bump and contains pus.
Signs & Symptoms of Abscesses in Cats
As an abscess is forming you will notice a swollen area on your cat’s body that is generally warm to the touch and painful. It is also common to notice hair loss and/or redness around that area.
Causes of Abscesses in Cats
Abscesses generally form as the result of trauma to the skin. They are most commonly the result of a cat fight where the incidence of a puncture wound is high. Abscesses will form when the body detects bacteria or a foreign body under the skin. As a defense mechanism the body sends out white blood cells to the area to "clean up," or wall off the infection from the rest of the body. As a result, a fibrous capsule is formed around the area and as white blood cells start to die and decay they accumulate and pus is formed. If the body does not absorb all of the infection, the area will become larger and the capsule will rupture causing the pus to drain on the skin. You will be able to see the wound and most definitely will be able to smell the infection draining from the area.
Diagnosis of Abscesses in Cats
Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose an abscess by sight on a physical exam. If the abscess has not ruptured upon exam, your veterinarian may elect to insert a needle into the area and draw back on the syringe to see what comes out. In most cases they will see pus which will verify the problem as an abscess.
Treatment for Abscesses in Cats
Abscesses treated before they rupture are usually treated with oral antibiotics. If a cat’s abscess has not yet ruptured, your veterinarian will elect to lance it and then clean it, a procedure done under a mild sedative. This is followed with a course of oral antibiotics. You can line your cat’s bed with training pads to help keep the wound sterile and to avoid leakage on carpets or upholstery.
Prevention of Abscesses in Cats
- The best way to prevent abscesses in cats is to be aware of situations where your cat might encounter another aggressive animal.
- Avoiding situations that make your cat vulnerable to fighting is the best prevention.
- Use a leash and collar if you take your cat are on walks, especially when the chances of encountering another pet are likely.
- Neutering your male cat will help prevent him from fighting.
- Seeking immediate veterinary care following any type of puncture wound can prevent an abscess from forming