Cats are nebulous creatures. Aloof, yet affectionate, their mysterious habits have been fascinating mankind for thousands of years (check out Ancient Egyptian history for some cool historical cat lore). Even with nine lives though, they’re flesh and blood like the rest of us, and caring for their wounds is important for any caretaker of a feline friend. Follow these three steps when your cat suffers an injury to get them on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
- Determine if there’s an injury
- Assess the injury
- Take your pet to the vet
Step 1: Determine if there’s an injury
As far as we know, cats can’t speak, so you’ll have to figure out if something’s wrong on your own.
Before cancelling your flight to rush off to the vet, it’ll probably be worth your time to determine if there’s even an injury to treat in the first place. If you have an outdoor cat, it’s smart to check for injuries every time they return from an adventure. If they repeatedly come home worse for wear, it might be worth considering transitioning them into an indoor cat. Injuries can come from all kinds of sources, and for fresh wounds look out for obvious signs like bleeding, limping, damaged skin, etc. If your cat’s injury has gone unnoticed for a longer time, there can be more serious consequences, so look out for things like push oozing from your cat’s skin, an abscess (which is when pus from an infection gets trapped beneath the skin, super gross), and fevers. If you find no signs of an injury, congratulations! Your cat probably isn’t injured!
Step 2: Assess the injury
Time to break out the tape measurer! (That won’t help you at all here, I just love tape measurers)
If you unfortunately find out your cat is wounded, there are several ways to approach patching up your pet. If the wound is actively bleeding, your first priority is to stop the bleeding.
For Serious Injuries
If the wound is actually spurting blood instead of just oozing, your cat will likely require immediate medical help. If the injury is bleeding heavily but more minor, apply pressure with a medical gauze until the bleeding stops. This could take some time, around 10 minutes, even when it appears the bleeding has stopped, tape the gauze in place and take your pet to the vet as soon as you can.
For Minor Injuries
If their is minimal bleeding, for example with a shallow wound like a scratch from a tree branch, you can clean the wound yourself. You will need some water, medical gauze (not cotton), and something to gently flush the wound out like a diluted antiseptic solution. If the wound is deep, skip this and let the vet decide what to do. You can make an antiseptic solution by buying concentrated solutions at the drugstore that contain either povidone iodone or chlorhexidine diacetate. These are best because using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide can actually damage your cat’s tissues along with the bacteria you’re trying to get rid of. The adverse side effects
Sealing the Deal
Once the wound is cleaned, additional medications could help the injury heal faster. While Neosporin is very good at fighting bacterial infections, it isn’t meant to be ingested, and since cats tend to lick their wounds, this could pose a minor problem. Additionally, some antibacterials like Neosporin also include “pain relief” ingredients, which are only intended for humans and could be toxic to cats. To avoid all this, you would be wise to spray the injury with Fauna Care’s Silver Spray, specifically designed to promote healing and new skin growth with Vitamins A and D while also protecting the skin from the environment with FDA-approved skin protectants. It also contains an ingredient that pets find distasteful to discourage licking away the ointment, but it’s safe to ingest, too, if your cat insists. Note though that Fauna Care’s products are for shallow injuries, not puncture wounds or deep injuries, so don’t apply it if the injury goes deep into the skin.
Step 3: Take your cat to the vet
Unless you’re already a vet, in which case, why are you reading this?
Easy-peasy! As long as you already have a vet to go to, that is. If you already have a trusted practitioner, then this step is a no-brainer, but if you’re still looking for a vet, or need to find a new one after your old one retired/moved, or some third reason that still leaves you needing to find a suitable professional for your pet, this can be extremely stressful. A number of veterinary hospitals have emergency rooms where they can quickly treat serious injuries at all hours of the day; Pittsburgh’s veterinary hospital has many services and accomodations. If the injury isn’t serious and you’re looking for something more permanent, finding a vet you can trust is vital to the long-term health of your furry friend. Treat looking for a vet like looking for a doctor you’d want for yourself and your family: someone who’s affable, knowledgeable, and easy to get to. There is a lot to look for in the ideal vet, so make sure you spend enough time to find one that works best for you.
Step 4: Prevention
You’ll thank yourself later, and your cat will too
I promised you three steps, and here I am giving you a fourth for free! I guess I just really care about your pets.
In order to make sure your cat stays healthy and lives a long, fulfilling life, taking steps as their caretaker to prevent them from harm can save you plenty of heartache and stress in the future. Read up on some of the most common injuries pets face, and check out some injuries that are specific to cats and how to prevent them (seriously, consider turning your outdoor cat into an indoor cat). To make sure your cat will be safe during the worst-case-scenarios, create a pet emergency plan for disaster situations and make sure you know where all your first aid equipment is in the home. That way your kitty has the best chances of staying healthy and safe for all of their sunshine-filled days.
Well there you have it! Three (four) steps you can follow to treat your cat’s wounds and get them back in action as fast as possible. I wish you and your feline companions health and happiness!