Accidents happen and wounds in cats are far more common than you think. Cats are active and enjoy exploring the world around them. The saying cats have nine lives came about for a reason! They are often getting themselves into trouble and small grazes, skin wounds or cat bites are not uncommon. Knowing what to do to be able to help your cat when these problems arise, and what products will aid wound healing is something every cat owner should be familiar with.
Do you own a first aid kit? Having a first aid kit that you can grab in a hurry with all the things you need will save you a lot of stress when you are faced with the need to administer cat wound care. First aid kits can be bought pre-made, or you can make your own with your favourite products and materials.
If you notice a wound on your cat, lock all the windows and doors so your cat cannot escape. All wounds need to be checked and wound care applied, either by you or a veterinarian. We recommend cats recovering from injury or illness are kept indoors until fully healed to reduce the chance of contamination and infection or further injury to the wound site.
The first thing to do when treating any small wound at home is to clean it. This reduces bacterial contamination and the risk of an infection setting in. Cleaning solutions such as Iodine (Betadine) or Chlorhexidine (Microshield) are excellent wound cleaning solutions. You can also use sodium chloride irrigation solution which can be bought pre-made or you can make it yourself. Contact time is important for solutions like iodine and chlorhexidine so try and leave the solution on for at least ten minutes before rinsing off thoroughly with warm water. Do not use cleaning solutions on wounds around the eyes or ears as toxic side effects can be seen with some cleaning products.
Elizabethan collars are cones that you can apply around your cat’s neck that stop your cat from licking or scratching at a wound. They are sometimes fondly called the ‘Cone of Shame’. This reduces the risk of infection and ensures the wound will heal as quickly as possible. Any trauma from scratching or licking can slow wound healing, introduce bacteria or even make a small superficial wound much worse. Cats should wear the cone at all times unless eating.
A topical balm such as Manuka Honey or antibacterial sprays for cats can help keep the wound clean, and aid in healing. It’s important not to use human topical preparations as some of these contain steroids and other ingredients which may slow down the rate of healing of the wound or have side effects on your cat. Always use cat-specific sprays or creams. If you are unsure, ask one of our online vets today.
The next step after cleaning the wound, preventing further injury, and applying an antiseptic is to talk to a veterinarian. This can be online through our FirstVet video chat or at your regular clinic. Some deep wounds need stitches. Depending on the location and cause of the injury antibiotic therapy may be needed. Some deep wounds are very painful and need anti-inflammatory medications.
Cat wound care, especially small superficial scrapes and grazes can be easily managed at home with the right preparation and planning so it’s always worth checking in with the vet team who will be happy to advise if this is the case.