Cats are susceptible to small everyday cuts and scrapes the same as we all are, so as a cat parent, it’s important to have some basic cat wound care knowledge. You never know when you might need to put it to use.
While more serious injuries should always be treated by a veterinarian, the minor cuts and scrapes can easily be treated at home with some basic pet first aid. Read on to find out how to tell the difference between a minor and major injury and how to treat those minor ones yourself.
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Cat Wounds: Vet or At-Home Care
If you notice a small cut, wound, abrasion, or hot spot on your cat, the first step is to assess whether it requires medical attention or if it’s something you can handle yourself. Very small scrapes might not even require any intervention on your part at all.
Wounds that don’t have a puncture site, are shallow or are bleeding only a small amount can be easily treated at home. However, if you notice any swelling, redness, oozing, or a lot of bleeding, you should take your cat to their veterinarian.
If your cat sustains a puncture wound, either by being bitten by another animal or getting punctured by some other object, you should always take your cat in for veterinary care. This is because a cat’s surface skin heals quickly, covering up the unhealed puncture wound underneath. While the cat wound may appear to be okay from the outside, there may be bacteria and debris inside the wound, which will cause it to fester and become infected.
Cat hot spots are red, infected patches of skin caused by excessive licking, scratching, or biting. They are sometimes warm to the touch and scabby, and your cat may even lose their fur around the area. If you notice your cat has a hot spot, you can treat it yourself until you’re able to get your cat to the vet. Because hot spots are usually caused by some other underlying issue, it’s important to seek veterinary care to figure out the root cause and get that treated.
If you are in doubt at all about whether your cat’s wound is treatable at home or not, you should always err on the side of caution and at least put a call in to your veterinarian to get their opinion.
How to Clean a Cat’s Wound at Home
It’s important to know how to clean a cat wound because even if you decide your cat needs veterinary care for their injury, you may need to clean it up or provide some basic cat wound care in the meantime.
No matter what kind of wound it is, the first step is to try to stop the bleeding if there is any. First, cover the wound with sterile gauze and then apply pressure. If sterile gauze is not available, use a clean towel, t-shirt, or other fabric. It may take 5-10 minutes for the bleeding to stop, but once it does, do not remove the gauze because the clot may come off with it and your cat will start bleeding again. Instead, tape the gauze in place and take your cat to the veterinarian for further treatment.
If there is no serious bleeding and the injury seems minor, you can try cleaning it yourself.
How to Clean a Minor Cut (Laceration) or Scrape (Abrasion)
- Examine the wound to make sure it isn’t deeper or more serious than you initially thought.
- Use warm water, antiseptic solution, or saline solution, and gauze to gently clean the area around the wound.
- You can also use a syringe to flush water and antiseptic solution over the surface of the wound.
- Do NOT use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or Neosporin ever!
- Minor wounds will heal best when able to breathe, so don’t cover the wound with a bandage. If you think your cat requires a bandage, you should see your veterinarian.
- Check over your cat’s body for any additional injuries you may have missed.
- Keep an eye on the wound. If it begins to look red or inflamed, or pus develops in or around it, take your cat to the vet.
How to Clean a Long, Deep, or Puncture Wound
- Clean around the edge of the wound as described above, but do NOT flush the wound.
- Take your cat to a veterinarian for cat wound cleaning and treatment.
How to Clean a Hot Spot
- Trim or shave the fur around it if possible. Because of sensitivity and soreness, your cat may not let you do this. Your veterinarian can help if needed.
- Clean the area with an antiseptic solution or a cotton ball soaked in saline solution.
- Take your cat to the vet for a topical antibiotic and further treatment of the root cause behind the hot spot.
Preparing for Future Accidents
As you can probably tell by now, it’s important to have some knowledge on how to treat a wounded cat, just in case your cat ever sustains an injury that requires your or your veterinarian’s care. To be best prepared for these situations, you should purchase or create your own cat first aid kit. That way you have all the supplies on hand to be able to provide basic cat wound care.
It’s also important to do regular body scans on your cat so you can find any wounds when they are small and new, before they turn into something more serious. Cats are masters at hiding injuries after all, so unless you are regularly checking your cat, you might never realize they’ve sustained an injury until it has become infected and serious. Performing regular body scans will help you to find any injuries or wounds so you can properly care for your cat early on.
Doing a body scan of your cat is one of the five vital things we encourage all cat owners to do on a regular basis. Join us in our Pet Health 5 movement, and together we can start tracking our pet’s health. All it takes is 5 minutes of your time, and we’ll even send you a reminder on the 5th of each month with a checklist of what to do and how to do it.
Start today by giving your cat a thorough body scan and signing up for Pet Health 5.
While the thought of having to treat a wound on your cat may seem overwhelming, it’s really not all that different from providing basic first aid and wound care for yourself. That being said, don’t neglect taking your cat to the veterinarian for more thorough cat wound care and treatment if required.
Have you ever had to treat a minor cat wound before? Did your cat need to see their veterinarian as well?
About the Author: Emily is “mom” to seven cats, one dog, and two sugar gliders. She has been writing in the pet industry for over 8 years, with a focus on cats, rescue, and adventuring. When she isn’t writing, playing music, crocheting, or working on her own entrepreneurial pursuits, Emily and her husband enjoy hiking, road-tripping, camping, and canoeing with their three cat adventurers. Follow her on her blog, KittyCatGo.