Our feline friends are loving and affectionate, but we know that cats can also be very protective of their territory! This can lead to territorial disputes with other cats, resulting in the bites and scratches seen every day in some veterinary practices. We’ve spoken to our pet health expert to find out all about cat bite and scratch injuries. Read on to find out why they happen, the potential dangers and how you can make life a little safer for your furry friend!
If you live in a densely populated area, you might have several neighbouring cats living alongside each other. Many areas also have feral cats, which could add to the feline population density around your home. Cats living in such close proximity to each other are naturally prone to bites and scratches from territorial disputes.
Cats have bacteria in their mouth and on their teeth. When they bite another cat, these bacteria can be dragged deep into the skin and other tissues. Fighting can spread viruses, like Feline Aids Virus (FIV) and other diseases such as Mycoplasma species (haemobartonella). To help minimise the risk of infection, you should keep your cat up to date with annual vaccinations and they should be neutered. Breeding animals should not be allowed out.
Spotting the signs
When a cat is bitten during a fight, the affected area will become swollen, hot, bruised and painful. After two to three days, a pus-filled abscess may form under the skin. These abscesses can be very painful for your furry friend! If you’re looking out for injuries on your cat, common places for an abscess include the back, tail base, head or limbs. Your cat may develop other symptoms including lethargy, a lack of appetite, lameness or a temperature.
What to do
If you see two small puncture wounds (cat bite marks) on your cat, or spot any other symptoms, take them to your vet. They may require antibiotics and pain relief. Some abscesses may require lancing, draining and flushing under sedation. Your vet should advise you on how to look after the wound and how to prevent your cat from licking it, as this can be detrimental to their healing. Cat scratches can also cause infections due to the bacteria carried on their nails.
If you notice signs that your cat has been fighting, we recommend you take them to your vets straight away. Remember to look for injuries and abscesses primarily on the back, tail base, head or limbs. Your vet will treat the wound helping to prevent infection, and help your furry friend with their recovery!
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