Dear Christopher Cat: Oreo, our 3-year-old neutered male indoor-outdoor cat, suddenly acquired a large, soft swelling over one hip. When I look closely, I can see two small scabs at the center. What is this, and what should I do about it?
Christopher Responds: It appears Oreo may have been bitten during a fight and developed an abscess.
An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms when oral bacteria are “injected” under the skin during a bite and cause an infection. The two small scabs are probably where Oreo was bitten, perhaps by another cat’s long fangs, called canine teeth.
If the abscess ruptures, you’ll see thick, yellow-brown pus and some blood.
Take Oreo to your veterinarian, who can lance and flush the abscess, give him an antibiotic injection and boost his rabies vaccination. Depending on the size of the abscess, your vet may need to do surgery to insert a drain.
Many cats with bite wound abscesses have a fever, lack energy and won’t eat. It’s important that Oreo eat, so you may need to heat some yummy canned food to enhance its palatability.
Your veterinarian might advise you to apply warm compresses to improve blood flow and help heal the wound. In addition, many vets recommend testing for the feline leukemia and immunodeficiency viruses two months after a bite wound.
One bit of good news is that since the wound is on his hind end, Oreo probably didn’t instigate the fight but was trying to escape from his attacker. You can protect him from further attacks by keeping him inside.