Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ouch! Abscesses Explained...

An abscess is a sensitive swelling of infection, usually resulting from a bite wound or other penetrating injury. Abscesses are seen most commonly in cats with outdoor access – usually from a bite from another cat, since the bacteria that cause infection are normal inhabitants of the feline mouth. We see more bite wound abscesses in the spring and summer months when outdoor cats are more active and territorial.

An abscess will usually develop about 3 days after a cat has been bitten or otherwise wounded. Although abscesses may appear anywhere on an animal’s body, they are most frequently located on the limbs, face, base of the tail and back. An owner that frequently interacts with their cat is likely to see or feel the lump – especially since it is painful and the cat will react when touched in that area. The cat will also usually feel under the weather and have a fever.

Treating an abscess involves draining, flushing, and cleaning the area – then keeping the area open and clean while the rest of the infection drains out over the next few days. The initial treatment of draining and flushing the abscess should be left to a veterinarian, since sometimes the opening needs to be surgically made bigger to let it drain, and antibiotics should be started to prevent the cat from becoming sick from the circulating infection.

If you suspect your cat has an abscess, the cat should be seen by a veterinarian the same day since they are painful and antibiotics are needed.

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