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 interferes with access to the wound, another option is to hold the cat by the scruff of its 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 or foot, swap out the kitty litter for a newspaper to prevent 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I treat my cat's wound at home?
If the wound is minor, you can clean it with mild soap and warm water, then apply an antibiotic ointment and cover it with a bandage. However, if the wound is deep, large, or appears infected, it is best to take your cat to a veterinarian for proper treatment. Keep an eye on the wound and monitor your cat's behavior and appetite, and seek veterinary care if there are any signs of worsening or infection.
What can you put on a cat's wound?
There are several types of medications that may be used to treat cat wounds, depending on the severity and type of wound, as well as the overall health of the cat. Antibiotic ointments or creams, such as Triple Antibiotic Ointment or Bacitracin, can be applied directly to the wound to help prevent infection and promote healing. Antibiotics, such as amoxicillin or Clavamox, may be prescribed to help fight any bacterial infections that may be present in the wound. Pain relievers, such as Metacam or buprenorphine, may be prescribed to help manage pain and discomfort. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as prednisolone, may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation and swelling. It is always best to consult with a veterinarian before administering any medication to your cat, as certain medications may not be appropriate or safe for all cats.
Can a cat's wound heal by itself?
A cat's wound can potentially heal by itself, depending on the severity and location of the wound. For example, small, superficial cuts or scratches on the skin may heal on their own without the need for medical treatment. However, deeper wounds or wounds that are located in areas with high amounts of movement (such as joints) may require medical attention and proper treatment in order to heal properly. Additionally, if a wound is left untreated, it may become infected, which could lead to further complications. It's crucial to keep an eye on the wound and monitor your cat's behavior, appetite, and overall health. If you notice any signs of worsening or infection, such as increased redness, swelling, or discharge, or if your cat is acting unusually or not eating, it is best to seek veterinary care right away.
Is it OK to put Neosporin on a cat's wound?
While Neosporin is a commonly used over-the-counter antibiotic ointment for human use, it is not recommended to use it on cats. Neosporin contains the active ingredient neomycin, which can be toxic to cats if ingested or if large amounts are applied to their skin. Cats have a different enzymatic system than humans and dogs, and neomycin can cause significant damage to their ears, eyes, and other organs. Additionally, Neosporin is not labeled for use on animals and has not been tested for safety or efficacy in cats.
Is it safe to put hydrogen peroxide on a cat?
It is generally not recommended to use hydrogen peroxide on cat wounds. Hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizing agent that can cause irritation and damage to healthy tissue and can delay wound healing. It can also be painful to your cat and may cause them to lick or bite at the wound, which can lead to further complications. Hydrogen peroxide can cause chemical reactions with the cells of the wound, which can damage healthy cells, making it difficult for the wound to heal properly. Additionally, it can also cause foaming, which can push debris and bacteria deeper into the wound.
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.