Abscesses In Cats: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Diagnosis

Abscesses In Cats: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Diagnosis

What Causes Abscesses to Form In Cats?

Although inflammation can be very painful, the body pursues a specific goal with this symptom. To fight bacterial infection, important cells of the immune system initially penetrate the target tissue. These neutrophil granulocytes fight bacteria, for example, by absorbing them. The tissue is then melted and encapsulated by the formation of connective tissue. The latter protects the surrounding tissue from infection and prevents harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing more severe damage.

In general, abscesses in cats can form in any organ. Among the bacteria that are usually involved in cats are environmental germs such as staphylococci. However, bacteria such as Clostridium or Escherichia coli can also cause abscesses in felines. The cat launches a systemic inflammatory response against the foreign bacteria resulting in abscess formation and the development of common clinical signs associated with abscess formation.

Pathways by which bacteria and germs usually enter the feline’s body:

Open wounds: the most common cause of abscesses in outdoor cats is a bite wound from another animal during a territorial fight. However, the bacteria can also enter the skin through other open wounds, such as open bone breaks, cuts, or foreign bodies.

Bloodstream: in cats and other domestic animals, blood poisoning (septicemia) can be caused by small wounds or by umbilical inflammation in kittens. Through the bloodstream, bacteria can colonize the entire body and cause abscesses in internal organs (for example, the liver) which can be fatal if not treated properly.

abscesses in cats

Dental disease: cats often suffer from gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or periodontitis. These inflammatory processes gradually lead to small lesions of the mucous membrane and dental structures. As there are many bacteria in the mouth, they quickly reach the cat’s jaw through the root of the tooth. It is important to treat this immediately to prevent serious adverse health consequences.

Inhalation of foreign bodies: sometimes, outdoor kitties inhale herbs or grass that become lodge in their lungs. As this debris is not sterile, it can have a wide variety of environmental germs that then spread into the cat’s body and cause a multitude of issues, particularly abscess development in the lungs.

Recognizing An Abscess In Your Cat

The development of an abscess in your cat usually presents common clinical signs. It is possible to recognize an abscess in cats by the following characteristics:

  • Redness of the skin (erythema)
  • Inflammation (not visible in abscesses in internal organs)
  • You can feel a swelling on your cat’s body either firm to the touch or compressible.
  • Pain and pressure sensitivity: Cats often react to pain by changing their behavior. For example, they become aggressive, rest a lot more, or stop eating. However, due to their natural survival instinct, many mustachioed men do not show their weakness until much later.
  • Formation of a pus pocket: the consistency of the yellowish liquid can vary between liquid, waxy and crumbly.
  • Sometimes, the abscess cavity bursts, leading to the formation of inflammatory ducts and fistulas.

If bacterial intoxication of the blood (sepsis) occurs, it will be followed by fever and a worsening of the general condition.

Diagnoses Of An Abscess In Your Cat

If your cat is limping, does not eat well, or even has a proliferation, you should consult your vet. The most important differential diagnosis of an abscess is a tumor, which is also manifested by proliferation. The following diagnostic measures help find an abscess or in distinguishing a tumor:

  • During the inspection (analysis), the veterinarian looks for more indications on the surface of the cat’s body. For example, bite marks or signs of inflammation such as pus.
  • Imaging procedures such as ultrasound or x-ray are used to find abscesses within the body.
  • Inflammation parameters can be measured by performing a blood test.

How to treat abscesses in cats

When an abscess looks like it will burst, it must be mechanically opened under aseptic conditions to avoid bacterial blood poisoning. This is usually done with a puncture needle and simultaneous monitoring with ultrasound. Since this procedure is painful and the cat has to stay still. Opening an abscess in cats is often done under general or local anesthesia. However, if the abscess is largely internal, a more thorough surgery will be conducted.

The abscess is completely emptied and then cleaned. Cat abscesses of internal organs require mentalization, in which, for example, the omentum is placed in the abscess cavity for drainage and enhances wound healing. In addition, cats are given pain relievers and, if necessary, antibiotics.


Abscesses in cats vary depending on the location, size, and type of bacteria. In general, a large abscess tends to burst and is, therefore, more likely to lead to life-threatening blood poisoning in the kitten. Forming fistulas or the appearance of an abscess in places difficult to access (for example, in the pelvic cavity or the maxilla) also complicates the treatment and, therefore, the prognosis. Recurring infections may be a sign of viruses such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV).

Prevent An Abscess From Forming

To prevent the formation of abscesses in cats. It is essential to clean the wounds as soon as possible. This can be done as follows:

  • Often, after turf fights, only two puncture wond marks are recognized. As animals always bite with all four canines, always look on the opposite side of the body for the other two bite wounds.
  • Before cleaning the wound, it is important that you wash and disinfect your hands. If you have surgical gloves at home, use them to avoid further contamination.
  • To clean the wound completely, it is advisable to cut the wound and the surrounding skin areas very carefully.
  • You must clean the wound with a sterile saline solution or with warm water that you have previously boiled.
  • You can apply aseptic solutions to the wound carefully to disinfect it with a jet or with a swab.
  • Do not cover the wound so that it can dry out and heal.
  • Observe the wound regularly for the next few days. However, if it worsens, it is important to have it checked by a vet.
  • For bite wound abscesses, avoid fighting or play-fighting situations that may cause a recurrence.

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