Dr Robbie Anderton BVSc (Hons) MANZCVS
If you let your cat outside, you have to read this story!
“What was that noise?”
If you have a cat that you let outside, there is a chance you may have heard the guttural growling and howling of your cat and another neighbourhood cat engaging in kitty cat warfare – YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
In the last 3 weeks we have had 15 Cats with CAT BITE ABSCESSES – that’s a huge increase to what we normally see at this time of year.
What is a Cat Bite Abscess?
We know cats have horrible bacteria in their mouth as part of their normal oral “Flora”.
When one cat bites another cat, they inoculate those oral bacteria under the skin, leading to Infection.
Those bacteria then start to divide and the immune system tries to fight off the bacteria – this is the formation of Pus.
The body tries to wall off the infection and the pus, leading to formation of an Abscess.
The Abscess works it’s way out of the body by killing off the skin around it.
Then the Abscess bursts – and stinky pus and blood goes EVERYWHERE!
What does a cat bite abscess look like?
Cat Bite Abscesses usually present as a big swelling on the cats body – depending on where the cat has been bitten. They are generally really sore to touch, and the cats often are feeling unwell.
It starts as a small swelling when the infection first starts, then gets bigger once the abscess forms.
And if the abscess bursts – Pus and Blood everywhere!
Common places for abscesses to form really depend on whether your cat is a runner or a fighter!
Cats that try and stick up for themselves will usually get abscesses form around their heads, necks and front legs.
Cats that try and run away often will get abscesses form around their backs, their bums, and their back legs.
How is a Cat Bite Abscess Treated?
With prompt treatment soon after the bite has occurred, we often can clear the infection with a short course of antibiotics.
If your cat has infection but no abscess formation yet (called Cellulitis)- We can still treat with antibiotics, but often use anti-inflammatories as well, as the cats often have a high temperature.
Once an abscess has formed, we need to drain the pus away. This often requires a General Anaesthetic, flushing of the abscess, and placing a drain. We also treat with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
Sometimes, if the abscess has already burst, and there is not too much pus, and the cat will let us, we can sometimes flush the abscess without needing an Anaesthetic.
Can my cat catch anything from fighting with another cat?
One of the biggest problems with cats fighting is the spread of Feline AIDS (Feline Immunodeficency Virus – FIV).
FIV is a viral infection, much like HIV, that gets into a cats immune system and stops the immune system from being able to mount responses, leading to a suspecptibilitly to infections and cancers.
The FIV virus is spread in saliva, so if a cat is bitten by an FIV infected cat, the virus is introduced through the bite wound.
A vaccine for FIV is available that can help to provide some protection against infection from cat fights.
We recommend all Cats that go outside, even if they just stay in your own backyard, get vaccinated for FIV, and receive yearly FIV vaccination boosters.
(Cats that are solely indoor cats, or that only go outside in a protected run, and don’t have access to other cats from other households, DO NOT need FIV vaccination).
If you would like more information on Cat Bite Abscesses, or want to enquire about FIV protection for your cat, please call the clinic on (03) 98079222, or email on firstname.lastname@example.org