Felines might be fastidious, constantly licking and grooming themselves, but their mouths contain some powerfully nasty bacteria. If your cat, or you for that matter, gets bitten, it can result in an infection that sends him to the vet and you to the doctor.
If your cat goes outdoors, or doesn't get along with other feline members of your household, fighting might break out. If your cat ends up bitten, odds of infection, including cellulitis or an abscess, are pretty good. Within a day or two you might notice swelling around the wound, with your cat in obvious pain. Take your cat to the vet for treatment. Better yet, take him as soon as you see evidence of the fight, even if there's no swelling yet involved.
Cellulitis results from a deep inflammation of the skin in the area of the wound, with each cell in the skin affected. You'll notice that your cat's skin feels hot near the wound. There's swelling, which can cause a reaction in your cat if you feel it. The skin is hard, not soft to the touch. Your cat could run a fever and become lethargic and stop eating. The symptoms for cellulitis and abscesses are almost identical, except there's more pressure in the abscess. Cellulitis more often occurs in areas of tight skin, such as the tail or feet. Without lancing, an abscess will burst on it own, spewing enormous amounts of blood and pus in its vicinity. You'll see a big hole in your cat's skin, which must be kept open and clean.
Unlike an abscess, cellulitis can't be lanced and drained. Your vet prescribes antibiotics to fight the infection. It can take a week or more of medication until the swelling goes down and the skin heals. Untreated cellulitis often progresses into an abscess. Your vet can lance the abscess, flushing it out with saline solution and cutting away dead skin. She'll give him an antibiotic injection and prescribe oral antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Large abscesses might require a drain to keep it open and permit drainage.
The best way to prevent Kitty from fighting and ending up with cellulitis or an abscess is to have him neutered and keep him indoors. Tomcats fight over territory, so neutering greatly reduces if not eliminates that urge. Keeping him in the house also keeps him out of all kinds of trouble and danger, including getting hit by cars or attacked by canines or wild animals.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.