Cats are agile and active and, if you have more than one pet, likely to play or fight at times. All of these activities can lead to your favorite feline ending up with a bite, puncture wound, cut, or scrape. If you are a cat owner, it's important to know what to do if your cat gets an injury like this.
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Look for injury
Sometimes it can be hard to recognize that your cat is injured because their fur can cover an open wounds. Your cat might also hide or become aggressive when they are injured in order to protect themselves from further injury. Speak to your cat in a calming voice to let them know they are safe and make sure to gently inspect them for any injury they might have. If you notice your cat is:
- Limping or having trouble moving
- Has a body part that is swelling
- Losing or has lost hair
It is important to check your cat for scrapes, cuts or punctures that could be causing them pain.
Once you have identified their injury, then you need to take steps to clean it. If the wound is not cleaned while it is fresh, it can develop an infection. Older unattended wounds can develop discharge and abscesses, and your cat can develop a fever, which could lead to blood poisoning or other types of infection.
Stop the bleeding
If you notice your cat is bleeding a great deal, it is important to stop it as quickly as possible. Use a clean cloth or gauze and apply pressure to the wound. Apply a bandage to the cloth or gauze to hold it firmly in place. If the bleeding has trouble stopping or there is an extreme amount of blood loss, it is important to bring your cat to the vet immediately. If you can, try and raise the wound above the level of the heart to in order to reduce the blood loss.
Clean the wound
If the wound is small, you can clean it yourself using clean water and a clean towel or antiseptic solution made of highly diluted povidone iodine or chlorhexidine diacetate. DO NOT USE alcohol, witch hazel, or hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound, as this will actually hurt the cat's tissue more. If the cut is small and not deep, flush the cut with warm water. The best way to do this is to pour a clean warm cup of water over the wound while your cat is in the bath tub (which should be empty and clean).
If the cut is deep or long, or it is a deep puncture wound, clean around the cut gently and wait for your vet to flush the wound of any dirt, hair, grit or other residuals that could be inside the injury. If you are unsure and the cut seems bad sometimes the best thing to do is wrap your injured cat in a towel and take them to the vet as soon as possible.
Caring for a cut over time
As the wound heals, make sure to regularly clean it using whatever medicine or ointment your veterinarian recommends. If your veterinarian doesn't recommend anything specific. using a clean cotton ball or a q-tip with diluted antiseptic on it (as described in the previous section) will work in general. Every time you clean the wound you should be sure to change the bandage in order to avoid infection. If you notice your cat becoming sick, feverish, losing their appetite, their injury is swelling, or there is puss this is a sign of infection, take them back to the veterinarian so they can prescribe antibiotics or other medication that might be necessary if theydevelop an infection. As your cat heals, be sure to be extra gentle with them.
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.