If you have more than one cat, chances are you have had to deal with minor spats between the two pets. Usually injuries are nothing to be concerned about – a small scratch is common, or perhaps a nip or bite. Occasionally these small scratches become infected, leading to an abscess. The following tips can help you treat abscesses if they do occur.
Tip #1: Check for scratches daily
The trick to preventing major infection is to catch scratches before they get infected. When giving your cat their daily cuddles or petting, check for any scratches. Matted fur can signal a scab or bloody area, or your cat may flinch or nip at you when you pet over a certain area. Usually the scratches won't need any treatment, but by knowing where they are you can check on them daily as they heal to make sure infection doesn't occur.
Tip #2: Feel for fluid
Often the wound may not even be visible or noticeable, so it may escape you until an infection gets started. When petting your cat, stay attuned for any "soft spots." These are areas they feel slightly swollen compared to the surrounded skin. They may feel like there is a small fluid-filled sack just under your cats skin or fur. If you notice one of these, an abscess is forming. The actual fluid is puss that has gathered under the skin due to the infection.
Tip #3: Begin home treatment
If the abscess is minor and hasn't burst yet, try to carefully clip the hair away from the area. You may need a partner to wrap the cat in a towel so you can complete this without accidentally cutting the cat. This also saves you from cat scratches. The next step is to place a warm compress or a dampened warm wash cloth over the abscess to help draw out the infection. If the abscess has already begun to drain, swab some hydrogen peroxide onto the wound to help heal the infection. Don't use alcohol, though. This will sting your cat and they will likely retaliate.
Tip #4: Get to the vet
It's a good idea to schedule a vet visit, even if the abscess seems minor. This is an infection and abscess infections usually affect more than just the wound. Fevers and secondary infections are common. Your vet can prescribe a safe-for-cats topical ointment to fight the exterior infection. They may also want your cat to ingest an antibiotic to ensure secondary infections aren't a problem.
To learn more, contact a veterinary clinic like Cats Only Veterinary Hospital.