Minor cat wounds can be suffered by both active and quiet cats: including cuts, tears, scrapes, bites, and punctures. You may know exactly how the wound happened if you saw them standing on a piece of broken glass, or your cat may simply have returned through the cat flap with an injury of unknown origin. Basic first aid principles can be followed, whatever the cause.
How To Start
Before attempting any first aid on your cat consider the fact that even the mildest of cats may attempt to scratch or bite in a stressful or painful situation. You should firstly get somebody else to help restrain your cat while you take a look at the wound. Wrapping your cat in a towel can be a useful approach, so long as no smothering occurs and somebody is there to help calm him or her down. Also, holding the cat firmly by the scruff of the neck or on the floor can work to restrain an agitated cat that is in danger of hurting themselves more.
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An introduction to minor cat wounds
Small wounds on your cat such as a laceration, cat scratch, or cut that is not through all layers of the skin can be treated at home with saline solution. These types of wounds do not need stitches.
Serious Feline Wounds
More serious feline wounds are cuts or lacerations that go through all layers of the skin. If the cut is longer than an inch, you need to take your cat to your veterinarian. It is likely that your vet will clean the wound and prescribe antibiotics to ward off infection. The wound will be closed with stitches if need be and may require a drain tube.
Any type of puncture wound on your cats needs to be treated by your veterinarian. These types of wounds can be caused from a sharp object or an animal bite and tend to get infected easily. Your veterinarian will clean the wound, apply stitches if needed, and usually prescribe antibiotics.
Feline Eye Injuries
If your cat has eye discharge, a swollen eye, or is keeping his eye partially or fully closed, it is likely from an eye injury. You can treat this type of injury by flushing it with saline solution. If both eyes are affected, it is likely from an infection or other illness. It’s best in either case to seek veterinary care.
Saline Solution Recipe
- Pour 1 quart of lukewarm water into a container.
- Add 1 tablespoon of table salt and mix it well until the salt dissolves completely.
- Allow the solution to cool to room temperature before use.
Cleaning the wound
Next, the wound should be cleaned to remove any contaminants. If you have any chlorhexidine or povidone-iodine then this can be used. Dilute in water with just enough to discolour the water and no more. Alternatively, a saline solution can be made using a teaspoon of salt added to a pint of cooled boiled water.
Do not be tempted to use human products such as creams, ointments, or disinfectants such as Savlon, as they can be potentially irritating and toxic if the animal licks the wound.
Cleaning is a ‘flushing’ process to remove contaminants such as grit and does not involve physical rubbing (which may drive contaminants further into the wound and cause secondary problems such as infection.). After flushing, gently ‘blot dry’ the wound and the surroundings to remove any antibacterial wash or saline. This flushing is essential, as cats are big groomers and will be drawn to the area. So ensure the area is well rinsed and try to prevent the cat from licking as much as possible.
Please note: Any suspected cat bite wounds should be well bathed once or twice a day.
- Dip a gauze pad into the homemade saline solution and gently clean around the edges of a superficial wound with it to remove any debris or loose hair.
- Draw up some of the saline solutions into a syringe and gently flush the solution over the wound.
- Wipe around your cat’s affected eye with a gauze pad soaked in saline solution. Remove any discharge or debris near the eye and off eyelashes if the eyelids are stuck together.
- Insert a syringe into the saline solution and draw up some of the liquid. Gently open your cat’s eyelids if his eye is closed or his eyelids are stuck together. Flush the eyeball gently with saline in the syringe.
Wound cleaning should be performed at least 1-2 times a day for a few days, until the wound appears to be healing. The wound should be regularly monitored and closely inspected.
If your cat develops any swelling, heat, pain, or becomes unwell it may be a sign of infection and veterinary attention should be sought. Owners should monitor for discomfort with the bandage, such as excess chewing. Wounds to limbs should be checked to ensure that the foot of the injured limb is the same temperature as the other limbs and that weight bearing on the legs is possible.
Dr. Hanen Abdel Rahman