Tips for Cat Wound Care

Contributor: Chris Dinesen Rogers
Chris Dinesen Rogers

Chris has published several books and been a freelance writer for over a decade, using her Bachelors in Biology to dole out expert advice on all sorts of science-based subjects.

Cat With Wounds

As a pet owner, there may come a time when your knowledge of cat wound care will come in handy. Fortunately, cats do well at taking care of themselves and avoiding unnecessary conflict. However, the curious cat or the outdoor pet may sometimes encounter trouble.

Cat Wound Care

It is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to treating your pet. Treat any wound as a possible source of infection. Any contamination can potentially cause an infection and increase the severity of the wound.

Priorities for Cat Wound Care Treatment

  1. Your first priority for treating a wound is to make sure bleeding is controlled while taking measures to avoid infection.
  2. Your own personal safety is a concern when helping a wounded cat. A cat will revert to "survival mode" and may be reluctant to accept treatment out of fear and stress.

Treating Serious Wounds

  1. If the wounds are extensive or there are obvious signs of infection such as swelling, redness, or pus, take your cat to your veterinarian or emergency care immediately.
  2. Your cat is likely to be in a great deal of pain and will need sedation in order to receive proper treatment.

Stop the Bleeding

  1. If you cannot get to the vet immediately, controlling bleeding is a serious concern.
  2. Bleeding may occur from arteries or veins, depending which was damaged.
    • Arterial bleeding is bright red because the blood is oxygenated. It is under high pressure and will spurt out from the wound.
    • Venous bleeding, on the other hand, is darker. The flow is more even from these types of wounds.
  3. No matter what the source, pressure on the wound will slow the bleeding and help the natural clotting process. You will need to restrain your pet during this time in order to treat the wound and prevent activity that can accelerate blood flow. It can take up to 5 to 10 minutes for the bleeding to end from the pressure.
  4. If you cannot control the bleeding, you may need to apply a tourniquet between the wound site and your cat's armpit or groin. You can keep it in place for 30 minutes and then loosen the tourniquet for two to three minutes to allow some blood flow. This will help the body heal the wound by allowing white blood cells to reach the injury site and begin the first line of defense.

Treating Minor Wounds

  1. For minor wounds that are not bleeding seriously, your first task will be to clean the immediate area around the wound to give you better access.
  2. You can clip the hair gently around the wound and follow up with an antiseptic soap or water to clean it.
  3. Make an antiseptic solution with povidone iodine or chlorhexidine diacetate and water. You can use a syringe or a sterile turkey baster to flush the wounded area with the antiseptic solution or water.
  4. Avoid using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean the wounded area.
  5. Clean the wound and the surrounding area with sterile gauze and then pat the area dry.
  6. Treatment afterward will help prevent infection. You can apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound. Contact your veterinarian for appropriate medication.
  7. In addition, your vet may prescribe oral antibiotics to speed healing.

Keeping Wounds Clean

Whether it's a mild or serious wound, once it has been treated, you will need to keep the area clean. Part of the difficulty in treating wounds will be keeping your pet from licking the wound site. You can apply a bandage or purchase an Elizabethan collar from your pet store to prevent her from reaching the wound.

Types of Wounds

Identifying the type of wound can help you decide on a course of action. Most times, you can treat minor injuries at home while putting to use your knowledge of cat wound care.

Simple Abrasions and Scratches

Your cat may get an abrasion from rubbing against something rough, resulting in some hair loss. Your cat can easily scratch herself on any sharp object in the home or outside. Both abrasions and scratches are superficial, but they can be painful for your cat. You can put some antibiotic ointment on them to assist in the healing process and be sure to monitor them to make sure they don't swell or become infected.

Puncture Wounds

If your pet has gotten into a fight, there may be puncture wounds present. Due to the pressure from biting, there may also be bruising at the injury site. You can clean the affected areas around the puncture but do not flush the puncture. Bacteria can easily become trapped in a puncture wound and lead to a serious infection. Take your cat to a veterinarian who will take care of the puncture wounds and may install a drain to help them heal properly.

Additional Concerns

If your cat has received puncture wounds from a fight, you should take her to your veterinarian immediately. In addition to the need for an experienced veterinarian to clean this type of wound, the uncertainty about which type of animal she fought with adds to other concerns about the cat wound care. You may not know if the other cat or dog was properly vaccinated or if she encountered a potentially rabid animal while outdoors.

Having a pet is a responsibility which requires that you know basic care and treatment for injuries such as wounds. Approach care cautiously with the knowledge that your pet is under stress and possibly in pain. Your job as a pet owner is to provide care when you can and seek veterinary help when there is a possibility for complications.

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Tips for Cat Wound Care