Help! My Cat Was Just In a FightBy vetsadmin | October 7, 2021
Cats are territorial creatures. All cats routinely get into fights with each other, but un-desexed males are more likely to get more aggressive when it comes to protecting their territory, as well as outside cats. But even indoor, desexed cats can often get into fights with each other which is why it is important for every cat owner to know what to do if their cat has been in a fight.
What happens when cats fight with each other?
When cats fight, they usually use their teeth to inflict pain, which can result in bite wounds. These bite wounds heal fast, usually within 24 hours. Cat mouths naturally have a lot of bacteria. When one cat bites another, a puncture hole can form and this bacteria gets transferred to the other cat. Because these wounds are usually superficial, they heal quickly but the bacteria become trapped under the skin. If left untreated, the wound can get infected, abscesses, swelling and pain can occur.
How can I detect if my cat has been bitten?
Give your cat a physical once-over. Check for any signs of crusted blood, scabs, swelling or matted hair. Often, cat fur can hide bite wounds, so gently part the fur from different parts of the body to check for wounds. Run your hands over the body to check for swelling or tender areas. See if your cat flinches when you touch it in a particular place.
Even if you can’t find any wounds, monitor your cat for fevers, limping, lethargy or breathing troubles after a fight. A cat may also excessively groom a certain spot that is hurting them. Often cats can also get internal wounds which can turn deadly if not given immediate medical attention.
The most common places for a cat to get bitten are the head, neck, forelimbs and the base of the tail, so pay special attention to these spots.
What should I do if my cat has been bitten?
Regardless of the extent of the injury, it is important to get in touch with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Some deeper wounds may need emergency care, so if the wound seems to be bleeding profusely, the cat is limping or howling in pain, or seems to have been badly injured in any way, it is best to search “emergency vet near me” on Google and immediately get it to a vet.
But in most cases, if the cat has gotten in a fight after working hours but is eating properly, not limping or showing severe signs of pain, you can wait until the next morning to take it to a vet. Or, you could get one of our trusted, licensed vets to make a home visit and treat your cat’s wounds in the comfort of your own home.
How are bite wounds treated?
Typically, if the cat has been seen by a vet within 24 hours, they will prescribe an antibiotic course to get rid of any bacteria that may have gotten trapped under the skin and stop the infection from spreading. They will also clean the site of the injury using warm water and surgical cleansers to see the wound better and remove bacteria from the opening.
If an abscess has formed over the wound, antibiotics will have a hard time getting through the pus. First, the vet will have to medically drain the pus and clean it out using a saline solution. They may also leave a small hole for the infection to drain out over the course of a few days. The cat will need to be monitored at this time and the hole will have to be cleaned multiple times a day.
For large abscesses, the vet may have to remove dead and infected tissue from around the wound. This will usually be a minor surgery with the cat under anaesthesia and will require stitches. It is very important to keep your cat from licking or biting these stitches, so constant monitoring and the use of a cat cone may be necessary.
Will my cat need to be hospitalised?
In most cases, no. However, they will need to have a blood test done since bite wounds can often spread infection throughout the body. These infections include the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) as well as the feline leukemia virus (FLV). Blood tests are also recommended for cats who do not seem to get better after treatment.
Nevertheless, after any type of fight, the first course of action should be to check for wounds, monitor the cat closely and immediately see an emergency vet if its condition worsens. But in most cases, just a little TLC and a round of antibiotics prescribed by one of our mobile vets is enough to help treat the wound.
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