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How to Treat Abscesses in Cats

June 02, 2017

Manuka Honey , Health

It’s likely no surprise that cats, just like people, can suffer from skin irritations. While these irritations are usually treated using creams and ointments, it’s still possible for an abscess to form on a cat’s skin if the irritation is allowed to worsen or if any bacteria have invaded the skin. Cats can also suffer from an abscess if they become infected from an injury, and this can happen pretty much anywhere on an animal’s body. It should also be noted that even though surface wounds can be typical among pets, these wounds can grow into a problem if they’re infected and have been left untreated.


Even more so than dogs, cats are likely candidates for experiencing abscesses since they are typically more territorial and more prone to fighting other cats when roaming outdoors. A wound from a fight could be vulnerable to a bacterial infection should pet owners not treat it. As well, a cat can develop an abscess from comparatively minor scrapes.

Some of the bacteria commonly known to lead to skin infections include Pasteurella multocida as well as Staphylococcus intermedius, the latter of which is usually treated using topical ointments. If either type of bacteria makes it deep beneath the skin, the subsequent infection can grow into a severe problem. An abscess will develop because of the bacterial infection if pet owners leave the wound untreated. Symptoms would include a tender or hot lump, swelling beneath the skin, pus secretion, and lameness depending on where the abscess is.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To form a diagnosis, a vet swabs the infection site to identify the bacteria and performs a blood test to check if the infection has spread into the bloodstream. When the vet has a conclusive diagnosis, he or can then recommend a treatment plan.

Many skin conditions can be healed with ointments, Manuka honey, and other topical solutions. However, if the condition becomes critical, such as the bacterial infection going into the blood or deep in the tissue, other treatment options are considered. Cats with abscesses need to go to the vet, so he or she can correctly cleanse, drain, and flush the abscess. This should prevent greater infection or complications. Your vet should also prescribe antibiotics for controlling the bacteria. Clindamycin might be recommended for more aggressive treatment should the abscess become serious or get deep into the skin.


If pet owners notice wounds or cuts on their cats, they should check to see if the wound/cut is superficial or deep. If it’s superficial, there are OTC antibacterial ointments for pets that can help reduce risk of infection. Pet owners can also use shampoos and dips to treat their cat’s skin. If you go to the vet and he or she prescribes antibiotics for your cat, remember to finish the prescription to prevent a relapse of the bacteria.

Photo via Alena Ozerova / Shutterstock

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