First Rule of Cat Fight Club: Abscesses Happen (Get to the Vet)

Every spring, my emergency calls escalate. One common complaint: Kitty plays too rough with the neighbors. It’s cat abscess season!

Every spring, my emergency calls escalate. Among cats, the most common complaint has to do with kitty playing too rough with the neighbors. It’s cat abscess season!

A cat abscess is the name for an infection that festers under the skin and breaks open. Most of these abscesses are from cat fights. Although I see abscesses all year long, they are more prevalent when more cats are going outside.

In the spring, I think these cats are playing “Wild Kingdom.” Winter is for hibernating by the fire. Spring is time for sniffing out the new fur on the block. And some of that fur don’t want to be sniffed, if you get my meaning.

Cats are very territorial. In the nice weather, if more cats are populating a set area, there are bound to be fights. Of course, there is always the unwanted foreigner who strays into your neighborhood (thus, the name!) and fights with the homeboys.

What Does a Cat Abscess Look Like?

Photo courtesy David Gilchrist, veterinary surgeon

The most common presentation is an area on your cat that looks like an open sore with fur missing or matted fur. The area may be oozing yucky, smelly stuff. It may be painful or not.

Before the area “abscessed,” your cat suffered a bite wound. Bacteria from the bite wound festered underneath the skin until finally it burst open, draining pus or blood, or both. You may not be able to see a wound until you look (or sniff) closer.

Before the obvious wound is visible, you may feel a fluctuant swelling on your cat’s body. It is not always possible to find the wound or tooth mark. This is the abscess before it bursts. At this time, your cat may be acting lethargic, painful and running a fever. Often, we suspect a bite wound when your cat is running a temp, even if we can’t find the wound. This is called an FUO, fever of unknown origin. There may be no actual abscess to be found.

Cat Abscess Treatment Tips

If you find a wound or obvious abscess, or if your cat is lethargic and you suspect a fever, please bring Mr. Fight Club to your veterinarian. You can try some first aid on the wound, but I’m not recommending that this take the place of a vet visit. Until you get to the vet, try this:

  1. Carefully clip away some of the matted hair if possible, so you can see what you’re dealing with.
  2. Apply a warm compress to the area if Mr. Fight Club allows this. Don’t get bit! A warm compress is a washcloth or small clean cloth soaked in very warm water. Hold it on the wound for a minute or two if possible. This may loosen the matted fur and can feel good if your cat is tolerant.
  3. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe over-the-counter disinfectant to put on the wound. There is usually very little stinging, but some cats resent it. DON’T USE ALCOHOL. It hurts! Over-the-counter wound-care solutions like Betadine are also safe. Rinse the area with a little warm water afterward. (Update: See note directly after this list.)
  4. Now you should be able to see what you’re dealing with. Cleaning the wound is always a good idea to prevent infection from spreading further. If your kitty seems comfortable and is eating, you can usually wait until morning (if this is after-hours) to see your vet. I don’t advise over-the-counter antibiotic ointments. Cats lick topical medications, rendering most of them useless.
  5. These abscesses almost always require systemic antibiotics. Even if the wound doesn’t look bad to you, you need to get a professional opinion. Your veterinarian will probably prescribe amoxicillin or clavamox after treating the abscess.

Update: A reader wrote in, asking: “Why would people use peroxide on an abscess? Says right on the bottle, ‘For topical use only.’ Abscesses run deeper.” This reader has a good point. A famous veterinary surgeon who taught at Penn for many years, and taught me, agrees: Why would you use something that kills skin cells (hydrogen peroxide) when your purpose is to promote healing?

That being agreed upon, many cat abscesses are quite superficial once they burst or open up. At home, I believe a one-time cleaning with hydrogen peroxide can do more good than harm. You are getting rid of the nasty stuff with a readily available product and doing it quickly. Many cats are not easy customers at home for copious flushing of wounds with sterile saline or Betadine solutions.

Hydrogen peroxide should not be used in deep infections or fistulas or on a repeated basis.

Serious Abscesses

Unfortunately, many abscesses are serious and require anesthesia and surgical treatment.

Once your cat is triaged, hydration status assessed, etc., your veterinarian will probably go ahead and give pain meds, anesthetize your kitty and address the abscess. The goal is to get the area as clean as possible, surgically debride the wound and treat it so it will heal as quickly as possible.

What to Expect

After surgery, your cat may look like it just visited a cabin in the woods! A large area of fur might be shaved and a surgical drain in view. This is a plastic surgical drain placed at either end of the wound. It’s called a drain so that — you guessed it — the wound can drain! This is usually in place for two to three days.

And what happens with a drain? It means your kitty usually needs to wear the “cone of shame” until the drain is removed. So Mr. Fight Club went in with an area of sloppy, sticky fur and a fever. He came out half naked, with a plastic drain on his side and an e-collar on his head! But, with treatment and antibiotics, the abscess won’t worsen and cause serious systemic illness. Your cat should be better quickly. And the fur will grow back.

Dangers of Cat Fights

  1. Make sure your cat is always up to date on rabies vaccination. Abscesses are usually “bite wounds of unknown origin.” In other words, Mr. Fight Club can’t tell you who he mixed it up with. Most states have very rigid protocols regarding rabies status and quarantines. If your cat is properly vaccinated, a rabies booster may be required in light of a mystery bite. If not vaccinated, he may be under quarantine.
  2. Besides introducing bacteria into a wound, a cat bite can transmit disease, including feline leukemia (Felv) and FIV (feline AIDS). Outdoor cats should be up to date on all vaccines at all times.
  3. Despite quick and appropriate veterinary treatment, some abscesses can require days of hospitalization or wound care, sometimes even multiple surgeries. If your cat was attacked by a wild animal or feral cat, or is in a debilitated state to begin with, the wounds can be life-threatening.

The head and tail base are popular areas for cat abscesses, although these wounds can occur anywhere on the body.

Bite wounds around joints can be particularly painful and difficult to treat, setting up the possibility of a bone infection (osteomyelitis) or septic joint. Wounds on the abdominal area can be tricky. Blood supply to the fat pads of the abdominal region is poor, so antibiotics may be needed in higher doses or for longer periods. Penetrating bite wounds in the chest are extremely dangerous. If a bite wound punctures the chest cavity, an infection in the thoracic cavity can be deadly. This condition is called a pyothorax.

Cats who stay inside don’t run the risk of cat bites (except, perhaps, in a multi-cat household). But too many of you love to see your cat having a wonderful time outdoors. If you take the risk of letting your cat play outside, please get early treatment if you suspect a cat fight or an abscess. It can prevent serious complications that can develop from a simple bite. In the long run, Mr. Fight Club will do better and you will save time and money.

And keep that rabies vaccination up to date. If you ask your veterinarian not to issue a quarantine when required by law, you are asking your vet to put his or her license in jeopardy. It’s like asking us to commit a crime. Seriously.

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  1. trae Reply

    after antibiotics are done and wound seems on the mend, how long before the skin heals? Its been 3 weeks since the wound burst and drained, now its still wet and bright pink (no pus)…Its on the left cheek

    1. loubrilliant21 Reply

      what has your vet said?

  2. Bray Wyatt Reply

    Can a cat get a urinary tract infection because of a cat fight? He had a big abscess that burst and is back to acting normal except now instead of peeing outside he wants to go on rugs now.

  3. Hexacat Reply

    One of my indoor cats has a small, superficial, ruptured abscess under his tail, tucked up under the edge of his scrotum. I only saw it because I had him in my lap on his back with his butt facing me, and he happened to squirm in the right direction. He seems okay, which is good, because it is very well hidden.

    1. Pippa Elliott Reply

      Hi there Hexacat,
      How are you doing? Lots of purrs and pruups in the Hexacat household I hope.
      Having spotted something so close to the scrotum, the rules of managing a small problem at home don’t apply. The reason being this is such a sensitive area and there isn’t any room for complications should things get worse.
      Is there a discharge? Is the area smelly? If yes, then please get your cat checked by a professional. Another worry is that even indoor cats can get fly strike and that’s not something you want to have happen, especially around the male parts.
      Another thought: If you have another boy cat, take a look under his tail and compare their anatomy. Check what you are seeing is abnormal and not a case of “mistaken identity”. *Wink*.
      All the best,
      Dr. Pippa

  4. Annie Kragen Reply

    Worried need advice. Merlin has a abcess on his back side. Over a month in healing was looking great. But today noticed it was holding blood and is bruised looking. Pressure causes pain and discomfort. His temperament is same as always but I’m worried. Is that normal to healing

    1. Pippa Elliott Reply

      Hi Annie,
      I’m sure Merlin is going to be fine but, without wishing to alarm you, it sounds like he needs veterinary attention.
      What sometimes happens is nature lulls you into a false sense of security when you think the abscess is healing, but the infection gets sealed in. The good news is the blood is unlikely to be hemorrhage (he’s not going to bleed) but is blood stained serum where the body is trying to heal.
      The not so good news is that if the bruised area feels papery at all, then it may be a scab rather than healthy skin. If this is the case then the scab will eventually lift away and leave a nasty looking hole underneath.
      Don’t panic!
      Bathe the area with salt water (1 tsp of salt to 1 pint of previously boiled water). However, I would advise seeing your vet, because Merlin may need antibiotics and possibly surgical debridment to get the area to heal.
      Please bear in mind I haven’t seen Merlin, so none of this may happen, but its best to get him checked out.
      Best of luck,
      Dr Pippa

  5. EMarie Garner Reply

    Okay, I’ve been trying to find help for a stray cat… there are lots of them in my new neighborhood (I suspect we may be a drop point for bad pet parents)… in a month he has gone from allowing zero human contact and being obviously near starving to a thriving, friendly outdoor cat. Two days ago he showed up with what looked like a simple scratch from, I assume, fighting. In two days it has swollen and now ruptured into an open wound. Now, Mr. Durden (yes, Tyler Durden) isn’t going to let me pick him up and take him to a vet… we haven’t gotten that far but I really want to help him. He’s incredibly smart… life outdoors on your own does that, I guess… and i think with some more time would make an amazing friend. So without risking a nasty scratch or bite myself from him is there something I can do to help him get well? Any suggestions would be appreciated. We need quick and something in can do on the run if I have to ;).

    1. Pippa Elliott Reply

      Hi there,
      Thank you for befriending this Mr Durden, even if he has other ideas at times. Makes your blood boil to think of people abandoning pets….but that’s a different story.
      It’s tricky to do anything if he won’t let you touch him. Ideally, try to salt water bathe the wound (1 tsp of salt to a cup of previously boiled water, although the exact proportions don’t matter too much). Wear a coat or something with long sleeves and a pair of gardening gloves, just in case he turns.
      With calm movements and a soft voice, many cats work out you are trying to help them and can be surprisingly co-operative.
      best of luck
      Dr Pippa

    2. Quantumnerd Reply

      You can borrow a trap from a cat rescue and then take the cat in to the vet that way, they will more than likely put him out to be able to look at the wound. You might have to keep him in the trap for 24 hour after that until his body can regulate his body temperature. (that’s if they use anesthesia) and of course give him food and water. I hope he gets better soon.

  6. Alice Reply

    Hi …I am kind a worried about my male cat Alex..he is about 1 year and 5 months , a week ago he had a fight with a stray cat I noticed swelling the second day ..I took him to vet , the vet gave him shots.. The wound blackened and finally the pus came out but my alex scrached his wound and he peeled it almost off I can even see right through his skin ..I m very worried help!!

    1. Pippa Elliott Reply

      Hi Alice,
      Poor Alex, but I hope he didn’t start the fight.
      It’s not usual when a large abscess bursts for the skin to come away and to see the tissues underneath. Keep the area clean by bathing it with dilute salty water (a tsp of salt to a pint of boiled water). Alex will need to go back to the vet to assess if the area will heal without surgery or if reconstruction is required. Cats do heal remarkably well but don’t take any chances and get him checked out.
      Dr. Pippa

      1. Alice Reply

        I took him to vet . he needs surgery and stitches .. I need a little pep on dos and don’t before and after stitches kindy send me some..thankuuuuuuuuuuu so much Dr Pippa.. My vet seems confident that nothing is wrong and its all part of treatment..

        1. Pippa Elliott Reply

          Well done for following up. Poor Alex. Sounds like he’s having a tough week.
          Before he goes in for the sutures, be sure he has an empty tummy – so nothing to eat overnight, not even if he cries and looks at you like you’re mad. However, it is OK to leave water down, just pick the bowl up first thing when you get up in the morning.
          Depending on where the sutures are, the vet may supply a “cone of shame” to stop Alex turning round and tugging at the stitches. Also, be careful if you have other cats that they don’t lick at them. If the wound is on his body, you could try fitting Alex with a small baby vest- both effective and cute!
          Sutures usually stay in for 7 – 10 days, and you need to keep him indoors until then, which in all honesty is often the hardest part.
          Best of luck to you and Alex,
          Dr. Pippa

          1. Alice Reply

            Thankyou doctor your guidance really helped me a lot

            1. Alice

              I really hope its not a dangerous surgery

  7. Sasha Wolf Reply

    My cat had a cut on her leg from either the dog or other cat in the house and it was treated soon. We don’t exactly know when it happened but it was treated when it was found. She was fine after that but yesterday I came home and I noticed her leg was swollen near the wound. I don’t have the time to take her to the vet due to my work schedule and I was wondering if there was something I could do here at home. Thanks for any tips and advice!

    1. Pippa Elliott Reply

      Oh Sasha,
      Sounds like she really needs to see a vet. If the leg is swollen with the wound healed over, she could be brewing an abscess. Not only could this make the cat sick but in a worst case scenario the abscess could burst and leave a large hole.
      For the time being, bathe the area with warm salt water (1 tsp of salt to 1 pint of previously boiled water) or poultice the region by soaking cotton wool in warm salt water and wrapping it around the swollen area.
      I hope things work out.
      Dr. Pippa

      1. Sasha Wolf Reply

        Thanks for the help! My brother’s taking her to the vet Monday but until then I will soak her the area and wrap it. Thanks so much Dr. Pippa!

      2. Sasha Wolf Reply

        Thanks so much! My brother’s taking her to the vet Monday but until then I will soak and wrap it. Thank you Dr. Pippa!

      3. Sasha Wolf Reply

        Thanks so much! My brother’s taking her to the vet Monday but until then I will soak and wrap it. Thank you Dr. Pippa!

  8. whatabout Reply

    I have a cat I love more then my boyfriend. About a week ago I found a tick on his neck towards the front. I got the tick off and thought all would be fine. Well he has scratched the area and now has a sore on his neck about the size of a nickle. I put peroxide on it to help try to heal it but now its just raw looking. I bought gauze and neosporin to go on it and it will dry up to almost completely healed. But when I take the bandage off he will scratch it til its raw again. Is there some other kind of medication I can apply to get it to completely heal. Also there is no hair on the wound. I have been keeping a bandage around his neck for a week now due to him scratching it and he will scratch it until it bleeds. I’m trying everything I can. If I leave it unwrapped would it heal even though he scratches it raw? Or should I keep a bandage on it until it completely heals. I just want my baby well. He is fine and healthy otherwise. Eating great and drinking plenty of water. I’m just desperate to get his booboo healed and it seems that the neosporin is not doing the job. Should I go to a pet store and get a medication for cats booboos. If he wouldn’t scratch it it would have already healed. But due to the scratching it has made it worse. Please help me get my baby’s neck well.

    1. whatabout Reply

      Pippa Elliot any ideas.

      1. Pippa Elliott Reply

        Hi Tonya,
        It sounds as if the tick caused irritation that the cat scratched at and now there’s a vicious circle of irritation leading to further scratching.
        I’m a great fan of “less is more” so if it’s at all possible to leave it open to the air to dry up, that would be best. BUT if he’s really scratching then he could seriously hurt himself. Perhaps try cutting the toe nails on the paw he uses to scratch to lessen the damage. Also, i’d treat him with a good prescription flea product, just in case he has unwanted visitors that are making him generally itchy and drawing his attention to this spot. However, as he’s damaging himself I would strongly recommend a trip to the vet. They can check there’s not deeper infection (which ointment won’t reach) and give him something to soothe the irritation.
        Best of luck to you and your furry buddy,
        Dr. Pippa

        1. whatabout Reply

          Thank you so so much. Im getting so worried about it I will try it off with a bandage for a few days or couple if its worsens I will just go ahead and take him to the vet. He is a white cat with beautiful blue eyes and I’ve wanted a white cat all my life. And everybodies jealous of my cat because I talk to him all the time and just love him more then anything.

  9. Marcie Preciado Reply

    My cat was treated last week for an abcess and is on antibiotics. I just found another lump in a different area. No scab or any puncture site visible. Since he is already on antibiotics, will that take care of the second abcess? Or does the second abcess need to be drained also?

    1. Genryu Reply

      Yes, drain and clean the abscess. Do not use hydrogen peroxide though (if you do) more than once.

    2. Melissa Smith Reply

      Mar_C, I apologize, I don’t know how I missed your comment! Your best course of action is to call your veterinarian, he will be able to tell you for sure because he’s already treated your cat for the one abscess. Please let us know how it turned out — so sorry again!

  10. span Reply

    My 2 year old cat has got a ruptured abscess wound near his neck. Please give me some advice, the wound is so deep, Im able to see his tongue through the wound. This is the third time happening to my cat. Please Help immediately

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      Hi span, I apologize for the delay in response. I am going to alert our veterinarian to get her advice, but in the meantime I advise immediately calling your veterinarian. I am not a vet, but I know that being able to see a cat’s tongue through a wound is likely very serious.

      1. span Reply

        Hi Melissa, Thanks for responding. He is able to drink milk properly. I guess that might not be his tongue after all ( I posted the picture of the wound in a separate comment). I fed him milk and locked him in a room so that he would be safe without participating in any cat brawl outside. It happened twice before. I am worried this time since the wound happened on his throat right underneath his mouth.

        1. Pippa Elliott Reply

          Hi Span,
          Dr. Pippa here.
          I am concerned about the location of this abscess and the amount of infection present. For starters, clean it up as best you can, using one of the suggestions Dr. Lichentberg describes above. Clean it at least twice a day, to try and get on top of the infection. However, because of the location the advice has to be to get him seen by a vet. It looks like antibiotic is necessary to fight the infection from the inside out, as well as keeping it clean. The good news is, with the right treatment, he should respond just fine.
          Best wishes,
          Dr. Pippa

          1. span Reply

            Thank you Dr. Pippa for your advice. It feels good to hear that he would get fine 🙂

            1. Melissa Smith

              Span, note that it is with the proper treatment, that can possibly include antibiotics. Let us know how your kitty does, and what the vet says! I am really curious to see how to treat this, as I have never seen it before.

  11. span Reply

    Here is a picture of the wound. Please let me know if he will be fine

  12. ItzMeBitchhh Reply

    My kitten has recently come down with a very swollen pad along with limping. I have been doing a lot of research and I’m stumped. I have 2 other cats both 5 years old and they all fight playfully. I felt her pad last night it’s not hot but it stinks when you smell it and it’s crusty around the pad and in between the toes, Also the toe pads are swollen as well. She doesn’t want me picking at it but I felt it last night and the pad is hard on the outside and soft in the middle. Any ideas if it sounds like a bite or possibly pillow foot? I’ve started amoxicillin last night to help prevent the spread of infection, will this help with it?

    1. Pippa Elliott Reply

      Hi there,
      Ouch, that is a sore looking paw – no wonder she’s not happy about you looking at it.
      Have a look to see if there is a puncture wound, as this could indicate a bite and make it more likely to be an abscess. Same as always though, if things are settling down be sure to see a vet. You really don’t want the infection getting worse and tracking up the leg.
      Best of luck,
      Dr. Pippa

  13. ItzMeBitchhh Reply

    Here is a picture of her pad right now. I’m going to clean it with warm water and salt plus continue the amoxicillin. Does this look like an abscess? She is only a few months and rough houses the older cats so much. One is Bengal and doesn’t know his own strength (I know from experience of broken skin from bites by him), they rough house a lot. My guess is an infected bite, please any advice.

  14. Marco Reply

    Hello, I also have my cat PuMA that has the same problem as Hexacat, but this one is big. He has two big holes each the size of a dime or little smaller and I can see muscles or something, I am worried about it, want to take him to the vet ASAP but meanwhile I have been cleaning the wound with water and putting this liquid my neighbor got for his cats abscess. I barely seen this the holes make little bubbles sometimes and the puss is gone but now it looks like a little blood when I cleaned it with a qtip. I want to know if my cat will be fine and a estimate on how much it will cost to take to the vet. I don’t want to wait until Tuesday to get more money and I don’t want my cat to suffer. What else can I do until then?. He licks the spot and I can’t seem to be able to find a way to cover the wound. Any help would be greatly appreciated

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      Hi Marco! I am not sure how much it would cost, but I would call your veterinarian ASAP to make the appointment. Today’s Monday so they should be open and may be able to get you in there. Most vets are very reasonable when it comes to helping their clients financially. I bet your vet would allow you to pay some today and the rest tomorrow or even do a payment plan. It never hurts to ask! I wish I could reassure you that your cat will be fine, but even Vets can’t always give that promise because all injuries and pets are a little different. Let us know how it goes!

  15. Kaz Vorpal Reply

    You should NEVER use hydrogen peroxide on ANY lesion, feline or human. While that was the old junk science go-to, there was never any real science supporting it, and there is growing evidence it actually slows healing, as well as damaging tissue and not actually harming bacteria at all in the first place

    Do a little research online, you’ll see what I mean

    1. Pippa Elliott Reply

      Hi there, Kaz,
      You make a valid point and indeed have pin-pointed an area of great controversy about wound management. There is much debate about the role of hydrogen peroxide to clean contaminated wounds. For sure concentrated, undiluted hydrogen peroxide should not be be used as it is too strong and kills not only bacteria but the healing tissue.
      However, diluted hydrogen peroxide [1 part of a 3% solution to 3 parts of water – Source BSAVA Small Animal Formulary] is accepted as a useful first aid measure for cleaning abscesses where there is lots of pus and infection.
      Part of the problem is anything that kills bacteria (surgical scrubs included), if its concentrated enough, will also damage tissue. The only absolutely safe solution for cleaning wounds is sterile saline, but with a really gunky purulent wound, the saline can’t cut through all the sticky exudate and get down to the underlying tissue bed.
      Like most things in life, which product to use is a compromise. In an ideal world – yes, use sterile saline, but if needs must then dilute hydrogen peroxide is acceptable for cleaning an abscess.
      Thank your for leaving a comment and raising this interesting point.
      Dr Pippa

  16. KitteyWolf Reply

    My cat got in a fight, and i didnt find out until my mother(who was meant to be taking care of him) brought him to my place. he has a big wound right on his face near the ear and a bit towards his eye. the wound is bleeding badly, and i know he needs to go to the vet. but i have barely enough money to cover rent+food. plus i cant drive or have a stable way to get into the city as i live in a small town. what can i do to help him

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      Hi KitteyWolf! Boy that is a tough situation to be in. I feel your pain when it comes to medical bills – I was in the same spot with my dog a few years ago. Unfortunately the only things I can think of would be to see if your mom can give you and your cat a ride in and if the vet would be willing to work out a payment plan?

    2. Pippa Elliott Reply

      Hi Kittey Wolf,
      Dr Pippa here. First, take some deep breaths. Now, stop the wound from bleeding. Apply pressure to the area with a clean swab or a wad of cotton wool. Keep the pressure on for about 5 minutes – time yourself on a watch as this is actually quite a long time. Then release and see if the bleeding has stopped. If it hasn’t, repeat again and hold pressure on for another 5 minutes.

      From what you are writing it sounds like he has fight wounds rather than an abscess. Keep them clean with twice daily bathing and it could just avoid infection setting in. Make yourself up a salt water solution (use 1 cup of boiled water and add 1 tsp of salt) and gently bathe the wounds as best you can (but without getting bitten).

      I echo Melissa’s comments about speaking to your vet about a payment plan. All the luck in the world. Hope it works out for you and your cat.

      1. KitteyWolf Reply

        I’m a bit worried about it, infection seems to have set in already(because i didnt find out about him being hurt until a little while after it had happen. its swollen, missing fur, and i’ve used a roll of paper towel trying to get the bleeding to stop. i keep trying to make a bandage to keep him from scratching/licking it, but he just keeps pulling it off

        1. Pippa Elliott Reply

          Hi Kittey Wolf,
          It does sound like he needs to see a vet. The swelling could be an abscess and he needs antibiotics to stop the infection getting into his blood stream. If it’s seeping blood stained fluid (rather than hemorrhaging) this could be a good thing as it’s getting rid of the poison. I’d avoid bandaging, and if what you have is a foul-smelling blood stained discharge, keep cleaning it away with salt water to encourage the infection to dry up.
          Best of luck,

  17. Tammy F Reply

    Actually it is not true to say that “cats who dont go outdoors do not risk getting into fights”. I have 3 cats and all of them are 100% indoor cats. The trouble is, the cat that was adopted 10 months ago sometimes gets a bit uppity with the other cats in the household and recently attacked one. The second cat was running away when the first one grabbed it from behind and bit him on the rump. The area abscessed quite severely and I just got back from the vets …a nearly 1 inch by 1 inch sized abscess has been shaved and cleaned and now my cat is on a course of antibiotics for 2 weeks. Yes of course if your cat goes outside it runs a very high risk of getting into fights – but you should never say that and indoor cat runs no risk.

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      Good point, Tammy, thank you for sharing your experience! I hope your kitty gets better quickly, poor thing! 🙁

  18. Tilly001 Reply

    My cat has a weird spot on her tail. It looks like her tail was bent and just snapped, now it’s all weird looking and smells bad. I’m really worried because we can’t get her to the vet for almost a week and I don’t want her in pain, but I also don’t want to kill her. I’m scared and don’t know what to do. Please help!

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      Hi Tilly! Is there someone that can help you get her to the veterinarian?

      1. Tilly001 Reply

        Well, we don’t really have the money for it right now. My dad doesn’t get paid until Thursday. We have a car, just no money at the moment. She’s doing better now. Well, by better, I mean she’s actually walking around and eating, her tail still drags behind her. But I still want to take her to the vet and know what’s going on.

        1. Pippa Elliott Reply

          Hi Tilly,
          Good news that your cat is eating, as this makes blood poisoning from an abscess less likely. As there is a bad smell and it’s been seeping then hopefully the infection has found a way out. If you can, bathe the area with salt water to keep any pus draining away. Cotton wool soaked in salt water and wrapped around the area can help. However make sure to keep safe it may well be sore so the cat may lash out – perhaps have someone hold the cat wrapped in a towel with her tail sticking out the back. Clean the area as best you can and keep it clean until you can get her checked by the vet, to see if there’s damage to the tail bones and if antibiotics are required.
          All the best,
          Dr Pippa

          1. Tilly001 Reply

            Thank you guys! Very much
            Appreciated! She is doing much better now, and I’m taking her to the vet Thursday!

            1. Melissa Smith

              So glad to hear this, thank you for the update, Tilly!!

            2. Tilly001


            3. Tilly001

              Guys! Something else is wrong! My cat has a really big bump on her head. Her head is swollen and so is the area around her eyes, causing her eyes to stay shut. I can’t take her to the vet for a while and I’m freaking out. I have a picture but I don’t know how or if you can add it. Please help! I’m really scared for her.

            4. Pippa Elliott

              Hello Tilly,
              Looks like you cat has been in the wars again!
              The most likely possibilities are she’s either got another abscess or she’s had an allergic reaction to a plant or insect sting. However the bump on the back of the head makes an abscess more likely. She’s going to need another vet trip I’m afraid. The pressure inside the abscess needs relieving and antibiotics to fight the infection. One worry is that if the infection isn’t treated the skin could die back and leave a nasty hole (plus the cat will feel really rough.)
              Is there a cat in the neighborhood that she doesn’t get on with?
              I hope everything works out for you

            5. Tilly001

              Thanks for replying!
              She doesn’t go outside, she’s always inside. We let her out once or twice on our porch but we’ve always been beside her, so no, other cats aren’t the problem. About two and a half to three weeks ago, my mom bombed the house with ant medicine and I thought maybe that made her swell, that’s not it. She had scabs on her from digging a lot. The bump is on the back of her head and her head, eyes, and nose are swollen. We called the vet and they were supposed to call us back but they never did, so my mom is gonna call again today. She has fleas, but she hasn’t been stung. I feel terrible for her because when I pick her up, she makes this pitiful meow and it saddens me because I know she’s in pain. She’s only about 8 months old.

            6. Pippa Elliott

              Oh dear! I wish I could say something more constructive, but it sounds like this isn’t straightforward and a trip to the vet is essential. Please let us know how you get on and what happens. Rooting for you both.

            7. Tilly001

              Thank you anyway! Very much appreciated!

            8. Melissa Smith

              Tilly definitely keep us posted on your fur baby, we’re all crossing our fingers for her <3

  19. Nefertirix Reply

    My cat is pregnant and she has an abscess. Is there any kind of antibiotic that can be used on her? Anaesthesia is off limits as well.

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      Hi Nefertirix! Unfortunately, that’s a question we really can’t answer. Your cat’s veterinarian is the one to go to for this call. He or she will be able to take a look at your cat’s medical history and make a judgement that is based on your cat’s specific needs.

  20. Marc Stanton Reply

    When it says topical use, it means only use on external wounds only, do not drink or insert in any other orifice! Because it is a liquid like a cough syrup, some people have apparently made the mistake of drinking it (or using it in another orifice), ergo the “only use on topical wounds” warning. It has absolutely nothing to do with the depth of the wound. Deep infections can not be treated with topical solutions alone, your vet must debris and completely clean out the wound, the animal is then give a routine of antibiotics.

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      Marc, thank you for this very important reminder!

  21. Marzee Hamed Reply

    hi i live in egypt and have a cat. he went missing for two days which is not like him at all and when he came home this morning he has a deep wound at the base of his tail which was oozing yellow puss… he wasnt acting his noraml social adorable self but gradually started eating and drinking and climbed on to my lap for a hug… my question is that seeing that he doesnt trust anyone except us and that vets here are scarse because i live in a very small town, is there any way to help him heal faster? its like a big hole and we thought about pouring betadine in it but then thought i would do some research first i would be really grateful if anyone has any ideas 🙂 feel free to e-mail me at thanks alot 🙂

    1. Pippa Elliott Reply

      Hi there Marzee,
      Sorry to hear your cat has what sounds like a nasty abscess. Certainly bathing is a good idea, with salt water, chlorhexidine, or Betidine. Always dilute the disinfectant appropriately (so Betadine should be the color of weak tea.) Using it more concentrated will not only destroy the germs but damage tissue as well.
      Best of luck and get well soon to the poorly Kitty,
      Dr Pippa

      1. Marzee Hamed Reply

        Thank you so much for your reply 🙂 I didn’t treat the wound and I just kept him inside and kept an eye on him and it gradually healed 🙂 he is back to his sweet and adorable self. Thank you so much though I really appreciate your time and kind words 🙂

        1. Melissa Smith Reply

          Thank you for coming back to update us!! So good to hear this!! 🙂

        2. adnerb Reply

          Hi, how big was the hole? My cat unfortunately succumbed to this and now has a hole on his neck? He is eating and drinking well and also lying on top of my chest right now- acting totally normal like always. I can’t tell take her I’m to the vet right now, which is really bumming me out. How long did did it take your cat’s wound to heal?

  22. Bree2882 Reply

    I adopted a kitten from the local shelter approx 8 weeks ago. He is 4 months old. 4 days ago while petting him I felt a lump approx the size of a kidney bean with another smaller lump directly underneath it. Both lumps are located on the rib cage between arm pit and shoulder blade..lumps are moveable, feel firm but squishy, and do not seem to cause the baby any pain. He has no fever and is eating, drinking and playing normally. He is not an outside kitty at all, however I do have another older cat and a dog. all animals are updated on vaccines and both cats have been declawed. It’s been about 3 weeks since the little one was declawed. I did call our vet and was told to wait 1-2 weeks as long as the kitty wasn’t febrile or in pain and to keep an eye on it. I was told it’s rare for kittens to have cancer. Does anyone have any ideas on what this might be? I’m very worried as my family has grown very attached to this little guy very quickly.

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      Hi Bree! Unfortunately, I’m not sure what it could be – it’s hard to say over the internet! If I were you I would just give the vet a call back and ask them what it could be and what you should be doing (if anything); like do they want you to monitor size or tenderness or call them if anything changes?

      1. Bree2882 Reply

        Basically any change in the lump or any change in the kittens behaviour or if he becomes febrile, lethargic, stops eating etc.

        1. Melissa Smith Reply

          Well I would say that you as the pet parent do have the right to tell the vet that they need to look at them – sometimes it’s nothing but then at least you have peace of mind!

          1. Bree2882 Reply

            Thank you very much for your advice. Fingers are crossed that it’s nothing serious

  23. jenl Reply

    I’m not certain why this Doc is suggesting a drain tube be left in the abscess, stitches and possible days in the hospital? Maybe in a worst case scenario but certainly over kill for most. Our cat has had two abscesses. First time she went to the vet, the Dr. lanced it, cleaned it out and gave her an antibiotic shot. End of story. No long drawn out process like noted in this article. The total cost was about $200. Second time the abscess had already burst. Antibiotic shot, around $100 for the visit.

    1. Pippa Elliott Reply

      Hi Jeni,
      The drain and hospital stay are very much a worse case scenario. The moral of the story is that the sooner the cat receives treatment, the less intervention is needed. Those abscesses that go untreated and left to fester can cause devastating tissue necrosis (skin death) and septicaemia (blood poisoning) so doing what you did and taking the cat to the vet early is definitely recommended.
      Hope your kitty stays out of trouble!

  24. MaryAnne Velard Reply

    Hi, my four year old cat has a lesion under her neck. It’s the weekend and her vet will not be in until Monday. The lesion was prominent 2 months ago however responded nicely to Derma-vet ointment for 2 weeks. A month ago it appeared to be healed. Now yesterday it is back, and I am worried to death. Not sure if I should apply the left over Derma-vet ointment again on the lesion in case the doctor wants to do a biopsy as I’ve heard the steroid in the ointment can cause false biopsy results. My cat is indoor only. Enclosed is a picture of the wound. Please advise.

    1. Pippa Elliott Reply

      Hi Mary Anne,
      Oh, that does look sore. Because this appears to be a recurrence of a previous problem, an OK short term solution would be to clean it with weak salt water and apply the cream previously prescribed. However, this is no substitute for getting her seen quickly. Take along the photo (it’s always helpful for the vet to see it at its worst). It may be the vet needs to investigate, either swabbing the area, taken an impression smear of the cells/ organisms involved, or even biopsy the sore.
      Best of luck,

  25. Samuel Charbula Reply

    There’s a bunch of yellow puss near the bottom. Should I try to clean this off?

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      HI Samuel! That’s definitely a question for your vet – it’s impossible to say over the internet because we’re not sure what caused the abscess or what your kitty’s medical history is. Give the vet a quick call, likely they’ll be able to tell you over the phone what the best course of action is.

      1. Samuel Charbula Reply

        I already know what any vet will tell me: “It’s impossible to say over the phone because we’re not sure what caused the abscess or what your kitty’s medical history is. Bring the cat in, and then we’ll be able to tell you what to do.” Or they’ll just say “Oh my goodness. You need to bring your cat in RIGHT NOW ASAP.

        1. Melissa Smith Reply

          That’s odd; I was just caring for a Shih Tzu with a badly infected eye over this past week, and her vet was great about directing me over the phone. I guess it depends on the vet 🙁

          1. Samuel Charbula Reply

            Actually, I found a vet who is giving me directions over facebook messenger. Thanks!