Indoor and outdoor cats can both end up with open wounds due to abscesses or accidents.
This article will show you how to treat an open wound on a cat.
The first thing to do is determine whether the injury is severe enough that it requires medical care. In his book “What’s Wrong With My Cat or Kitten?” veterinarian John Rossi says that small wounds under 1 inch long and 1/2 inch wide don’t need veterinary attention. If your cat’s injury can be dealt with at home, you should stop the bleeding, clean the wound and bandage it, if necessary. Your cat should be able to finish the healing process on her own.
What You’ll Need to Treat an Open Wound on a Cat:
- Clean rags
- Mild liquid soap
- Sterile gauze pads
- Self-adhering elastic bandage
- Antibiotic ointment or non-medicated petroleum jelly
Stop the Blood Flow
- Step 1: Apply pressure to your cat’s wound by pressing a clean rag to it with your hand to stop the wound from bleeding.
- Step 2: Hold the rag in place for 3 to 4 minutes before lifting it to see if the blood flow has slowed down.
- Step 3: Reapply a clean section of the rag to the wound if the bleeding hasn’t slowed significantly or stopped altogether. When it has slowed or stopped, move on to cleaning the wound.
Cleaning the Wound
- Step 1: Flood the wound with warm water for 4 to 5 minutes. This may be easier to do if you have a second person hold your cat and help keep her still and calm while you hold her over the sink and either pour the water over the wound or run water from the faucet over it.
- Step 2: Work some liquid soap into a lather with warm water and clean the wound with it.
- Step 3: Wash the soap away with more warm water from the tap or by pouring water over the wound until the water runs clear.
- Step 4: Dry the wound and the area around it off with a clean rag.
Care While Healing
- Step 1: Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to the wound to keep any bacteria that is present from causing infection. Spreading the ointment on at least twice a day reduces chances of infection and also keeps the tissue soft and more prone to healing.
- Step 2: Leave the wound un-bandaged if you can stop the bleeding entirely, and if your cat will be confined to the house while she’s healing. If the wound isn’t subjected to getting dirt or other infect-ants in it, it will heal faster being exposed to the air than bandaged.
- Step 3: Check your cat’s wound daily to ensure that it is healing and doesn’t become infected. If it appears red, swollen and is seeping pus, take your cat to the vet immediately. The vet may drain the wound and will prescribe an antibiotic to fight the infection.
Tips and Warnings:
You should always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your cat when she has a serious cut or gash. Immediately take your cat to the vet if she has a large open wound over 1 inch long and 1/2 inch wide, especially if it is bleeding profusely.
Don’t attempt to apply a tourniquet to your cat when she is bleeding. More harm than good can be done if it’s tied too tightly.
Wounds can be cleaned by flushing them with hydrogen peroxide as an alternative to washing with soap and water.
“What’s Wrong With My Cat or Kitten?”; John Rossi, D.V.M., M.A.
“The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats”; Editors of Prevention Health Books