After surgery or an injury, your cat may try to lick the site of her wound, causing irritation, opening stitches or leading to an infection. To protect the wound while it heals, keep your furry friend from licking the area by preventing her from accessing it.
Smaller wounds can be covered and wrapped in bandages to prevent your cat from licking them. Cover the wound with a gauze bandage and wrap it with a rubber latex veterinary bandage. This type of veterinary wrap sticks to itself without sticking to your kitty's fur and comes in different colors. The wrap provides protection for the wound bandage, especially if your kitty begins to bite or claw at the gauze bandage. Some bandages or wraps even come with a coating on the outside that deters licking. Bandaging works best on your little one's legs and feet, because it is harder for your kitty to pull off than on other parts of the body.
After being spayed, your kitty is typically given an Elizabethan collar, also referred to as an E-collar, to prevent her from accessing the surgical incision. Because the incision is on her abdomen, it's hard to cover with a bandage, as are other types of surgical incisions or wounds on the body. The hard E-collar looks like a lampshade, with a cone shape. It surrounds your kitty's face and prevents her from licking her lower extremities or touching her ears and face with her paws. These collars come in different sizes, so be sure to measure your kitty's neck for a proper fit. Typically, your vet will send you home with one after surgery to protect the stitches and wound from her licking.
Many specialty pet supply stores sell soft versions of the E-collar, made of fabric, foam or other soft materials, for your kitty. These versions vary, with some that have a flat, round shape with a hole in the middle for your little one's head to fit through. Others have the traditional cone shape and tie around your furry feline's head, but have soft sides instead of rigid ones. Depending on the location of your kitty's wound, these soft collars may be appropriate for her, if they block her from accessing her injury. Sometimes, these are used in combination with other types of wound protection, such as bandages.
Bandages can be sprayed with bitter taste repellents if your kitty seems intent on pulling or licking them off. These sprays are nontoxic and taste unpleasant to her. In addition, a surgical t-shirt could be used to cover incisions on your kitty's body. These fabric pieces of clothing cover the wound and keep your little one from licking it. Many times these aren't enough to fully protect the wound and are used in combination with an E-collar. Cat muzzles can stop your kitty from getting to her wound, but these are meant to be used for just a few minutes at a time, such as during a bandage change.
Have your injured kitty examined by a vet if you have bandaged her wound yourself, to prevent the injury from causing an infection. Consult with your vet if you notice that your kitty keeps trying to lick at her wound, no matter what you try. He may have some suggestions to prevent this behavior and can prescribe pain medication for your little one if she is trying to lick the wound because it hurts.
- PetPlace: Elizabethan Collars for Cats (E-Collars)
- PetPlace: How Can I Stop My Cat from Licking His Surgical Wounds?
- PetMD: Wound Treatment for Cats (Overview)
- Vetstreet: Why Does My Cat...Lick Her Wounds?
- VetInfo: Recovery Care After Cat Surgery
- VetInfo: Preventing Wound Licking With a Cat Muzzle
- VCA Animal Hospitals: First Aid in Cats
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.