Here’s What The Healing Stages Of Your Cat’s Abscess Will Look Like [with Photos]

a black and white cat sitting on a ledge

You may have noticed an abscess forming on your cat, or perhaps a vet has diagnosed your cat. An abscess isn’t pretty and can scare any pet owner. Professional treatment may be necessary to eliminate the abscess, but even after visiting the vet you may have more questions after your cat’s abscess. Here’s what you need to know about what abscesses are and what the healing stages look like. 


Be prepared to deal with minor injuries by keeping Fauna Care healing sprays around the house, capable of treating cuts and burns. This article will cover:

  • What is an abscess 
  • The healing stages of an abscess
  • How to help your cat heal

What is An Abscess?

An abscess for cats is most commonly caused by another animal biting them. It is a pocket of pus that forms under the skin. It may make the skin tender or firm and is usually red. When a cat is bitten by another animal, the bacteria in the teeth may get under the skin and cause an infection. The wound heals over the surface, trapping the infection under the skin and causing the abscess. The abscess fills with pus that may at some point rupture and secrete a foul odor. Accompanying an abscess is usually a fever due to your cat attempting to fight off infection. 

Abscesses for cats may or may not heal on their own. For the safety of the cat, at first notice of an abscess you should contact your vet and have your vet examine them. 


What Do The Healing Stages Of An Abscess Look Like?

An abscess has several stages of healing that you can identify. Starting off, an abscess may look like a patch of skin that is swollen and tender. This is what an unruptured abscess looks like. If the abscess is caused by an animal bite, you may still be able to see a small scab from the tooth mark. 

An un-ruptured abscess on the body of a cat
This is what an unruptured abscess may look like on your cat. Image courtesy of Mar Vista’s website.

At some point, the abscess will likely rupture on its own. It must rupture in order to heal, so abscesses that do not rupture naturally will be lanced by vets and flushed out. When an abscess ruptures, you may not be able to see it but you will definitely smell it. A foul smelling pus will emerge from the wound, and the fever may break once the rotten tissue has drained. 

A ruptured abscess on the body of a cat
A ruptured abscess will have a foul smell. Image courtesy of Mar Vista’s website.

Cats will commonly lick at their wound. This may cause the hair around the abscess to part and make the abscess more visible to you. The abscess after some time will look raw and will at some point stop draining pus. Overlaying skin can become especially fragile and be easily torn away, creating a large raw spot. 

A healing abscess surrounded by raw skin
The abscess will look raw as it begins to heal. Image courtesy of Mar Vista’s website.

Some abscess are not as visible as others. It’s possible for abscesses to be buried deep under fur so that shaving the fur is necessary to see the abscess. For these types of abscesses, you may only notice a tender spot and the smell that accompanies a rupture.

An abscess buried under thick fur
An abscess may be difficult to detect. Image courtesy of Mar Vista’s website.

With every day passing, the abscess should be draining less and less pus. On average, an abscess will settle down between five to seven days. 

Tips For How To Help Your Cat Heal From An Abscess

Don’t get overwhelmed with caring for your cat’s abscess at home. There’s a lot you can do to comfort your cat and make the road of recovery a quick trip. It takes a bit more attention that you’re used to giving a cat, but in the end it’s necessary and worth it.

cat lying ont the floor

Keep Confined And Monitor

Your cat can no longer go off and disappear for hours while the abscess is healing. Your cat may worsen the wound unsupervised. Plus, an abscess that isn’t done draining may drip onto furniture and floors. To prevent this, keep them in a single room that contains their food, water, and kitty litter. Check up on your cat’s wound two or three times a day to ensure appearance of the abscess hasn’t worsened. You should also be generally aware if your cat is exhibiting healthy behaviors such as normally eating and pooping.

Keep Wound Clean

Obviously, the wound will heal easier and quicker if it is kept clean. Your cat may jeopardize this by licking it. While licking may usually be effective, in this case it may make the wound worse. If you can’t get your cat to stop licking the abscess, a collar may be necessary. To clean it, first you should put on a pair of gloves. In fact, you should wear gloves whenever caring for the wound. Next, take a clean rag or washcloth and soak it in warm water. Use the cloth to wipe away pus. Rise and repeat until no more pus is visible. 

If you notice scabs forming before all the pus is gone, you can carefully remove the scab by soaking it with your warm, wet washcloth. Soak the scab to the point that you can gently wipe it away. If the abscess is no longer pus filled, you don’t have to worry about removing crust or scabs. 

Warm Compresses 

For the first few days after discharge, your cat may find some comfort in warm compresses. The heat liquifies the diseased tissue and allows them to more easily drain. To give a warm compress is similar to how you clean it. Use a washcloth and soak it in warm, not hot, water. Apply it over the abscess for five to ten minutes once or twice a day.


Your cat will likely need medication to help them through the healing process. Antibiotics will likely be given by your vet to treat the abscess. Give your cat the antibiotics as directed. If you are having difficulties administering the medication to your cat, contact your vet. 

Abscesses can look pretty scary, and they’re not pleasant for you or your cat. This isn’t any cause for panic though! Contact your vet if you feel that the wound is serious, and some extra care should make your cat well again in no time.

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