Identifying If Your Cat Has Been In A Cat Fight

Is your cat the bully or the victim in your neighbourhood? Cats fighting

Inside every cuddly kitty, there might be a ferocious, territorial lion. While we know that cats live longer and healthier lives if they are kept indoors, many people still feel their cats need to roam.

Some cats are more aggressive than others but usually, it is the un-desexed male cats that tend to be the neighbourhood bully. They try to continually expand their territory by encroaching on other cat’s territories, and this often results in a cat fight.

Unless your cat is showing visible signs that they’ve has been in a fight, like limping or wounds, it is common for catfight injuries to go unnoticed.

When cats fight, they inflict deep wounds by biting with their canine teeth. These wounds can remain hidden by hair. They will normally cause severe abscesses which can appear soon after a fight.

What happens after my cat has been bitten?

Cat bites leave small punctures in the skin which rapidly seal over, trapping bacteria beneath the skin of the victim. Often, no signs of the bite can be seen. Pain and swelling occur when bacteria under the skin multiply and the tissue surrounding the bite wound becomes infected.

After a few days, an abscess (or pus-filled pocket) may develop. With severe abscesses, the skin is lifted off the underlying tissues, causing loss of blood supply and necrosis (death) of areas of skin. These areas of skin come off, leaving large open wounds. Sometimes an abscess will rupture, but then reform if there is inadequate drainage.

Occasionally, the bite penetrates a joint or bony area, causing septic arthritis (infected joint) or osteomyelitis (bone infection).

Pain is the most obvious sign that a cat has an abscess developing. Often cats will not allow their owners to touch them at the bite site. The area may be swollen. The cat may become listless, have a fever or lose their appetite.

How are bite wounds and abscesses treated?

If a bite wound is treated before it develops into an abscess, antibiotics are effective. Once an abscess forms, antibiotics will not be able to penetrate the pus, and surgical draining of the abscess under general anaesthesia will be required. A large hole will be left open to allow drainage, or a drain may be place and left for four to five days. It may be necessary to clean the area for a few days after the surgery – salty water should be used for this, not disinfectants. Antibiotics will also be necessary. Generally, abscesses will heal quickly after treatment, although where large areas of skin have been lost, it may take longer.

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

Bite wounds are the main route of transmission of FIV which causes cat AIDS. If your cat is known to have had a fight, a blood test for FIV is recommended three to six months later. FIV can be prevented by vaccination.

How can fighting be prevented?

The solution to preventing cat fights is by desexing your cat and keeping them indoors, especially at night.

If you know that your cat has been in a fight, it is best to contact your local Greencross Vets as soon as possible to commence early treatment before an abscess forms. Ensure your cat is vaccinated against FIV.