Cats, especially outdoor cats, can be especially susceptible to cuts. Your cat may get into fights with other cats, or even dogs or squirrels. They can run into sharp objects or suffer scrapes and bruises that come with the habit of squeezing through tight spaces.
Many of these wounds will be minor and can be treated at home. More serious wounds should be treated by a veterinarian.
Treating Minor Wounds at Home
Very small scrapes or cuts to your cat are often not worth worrying too much about. Minor abrasions will usually heal on their own without human intervention. If your cat does suffer a small injury, keep an eye on the wound site and watch for signs of healing. If swelling, redness, or oozing occurs, it’s time to seek professional help.
Wounds without puncture sites or that bleed just a little can be treated with a bit of feline first aid.
Step 1: Secure Your Pet
Even the friendliest cat can scratch or bite if they are in pain or frightened. Wrap your cat in a towel to keep them still while you’re applying first aid. It helps to do this part with two people, though with care, one can manage alone if need be. Wrapping your cat in a towel is a technique many veterinarians use. If the towel will interfere with access to the wound, another option is to hold the cat by the scruff of their neck. Again, an extra pair of hands can make this much easier.
Step 2: Examine the Wound
Make sure it is not deeper or more serious than you might have assumed. If the wound is minor, you can move on to cleaning it yourself.
Step 3: Clean the Wound
Fill a syringe with a mixture of water and antiseptic solution. Rinse the wound site several times with this mixture. Antibacterial soap can work, as can the antiseptic soap you’d buy in any regular pharmacy’s first aid section.
Minor wounds often heal best when able to breathe, so you probably want to skip a bandage. What's more, some veterinarians note that pet parents sometimes wrap bandages too tightly, causing circulation problems. If you think your pet needs a bandage, it's best to let your vet do it.
Step 4: Keep a Close Eye
Keep your cat inside and watch the wound for signs of healing. If the site begins to look red or inflamed, or if pus develops in or around the wound, contact your vet immediately.
If the wound is on your cat's paw of foot, swap out the kitty litter for newspaper, to avoid litter particles from irritating the wound or causing an infection.
More Serious Wounds
Any wound that involves punctures or more than minor blood loss should be treated by a vet as soon as possible. Puncture wounds, especially those caused by a bite from another animal, can easily become infected, as can deep cuts. These wounds can seal over, trapping dirt and bacteria inside. You'll also want to make sure your pet's rabies vaccine is up to date if the wound is a bite from another animal.
Injuries of this type that are left untreated can result in the formation of abscesses, or pus-filled pockets at the wound site. These abscesses can be very painful to your cat and can also result in lethargy and fever.
Watch for these signs as well as limping or tenderness of the wound as indications that an emergency vet trip is required.
Should your cat suffer a serious injury and you can’t get to the vet right away, you may have to apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. You can also clean around the edges of these larger cuts, but let your vet flush the wound.
Last, check around your cat’s body for any additional injuries it may have gotten, that you might have missed while tending to the biggie. And of course, be sure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date, especially if wounds were inflicted by another animal.
More on Pet First Aid and Care
How to Treat a Dog's Laceration
A Guide to Pet First Aid Kits
Disaster Preparedness for Your Pets
What To Do About Cat Hiccups
The Annual Vet Visit: What To Expect
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.