Our Pet of the Month for March is Jet. He is a very outgoing cat that was brought in to our hospital for a swelling on his neck and feeling out of sorts. Upon initial exam it was immediately apparent Jet was not feeling well. During a typical exam he is very keen to eat any yummy treat offered, this time he refused all treats or food. He had a large swelling on the side of his neck and on closer exam a couple small puncture wounds were found. This area was also very painful for Jet so he was given pain meds right away.
In order to diagnose and treat Jet effectively it was necessary to give him an injectable sedative. Under sedation, the area was shaved and the swelling sampled with a needle. Pus was aspirated from the area. Jet had a large abscess. While we cannot know for sure, it is likely from a fight with another cat.
Cat teeth and claws are needle sharp and even during play, if they penetrate the skin, bacteria are inoculated into the tissues below. Occasionally the body clears the infection. However, because the skin wound closes quickly, bacteria can fester underneath, eventually forming an abscess. Jet’s injury would have happened a couple days prior and he would have only had a couple small puncture wounds. These would have been very difficult to notice with his fur coat.
Cat bites have a very high risk of becoming infected and forming an abscess. Pasturella multocida is the most common bacteria associated with cat abscesses, but other bacteria can be present. Culturing the infection sometimes is necessary to ensure the appropriate antibiotic is selected. Jet’s abscess was surgically opened and drained. Since the area the abscess took up was so large, a surgical drain was also placed to aid with healing.
It is important to seek veterinary care quickly in these situations. With early treatment cats recover quickly and do very well. Waiting to seek care will make your pet more debilitated and the abscess larger. A larger abscess can result in a much more complicated surgery and longer healing times.
It is also important to note that cat bites in people should always be taken seriously as there is a high infection rate. If left untreated people have had to be admitted to the hospital and placed on IV antibiotics. If you get bitten clean the area very well with soap and water and contact a medical professional. If the area looks red or swollen seek immediate care at an ER or Urgent Care facility.