Fighting Felines

Our feline friends are territorial by nature, so at some stage most of them get involved in a cat fight...some more frequently than others...!

In the first 24 hours after a cat bite, your cat will often be bruised and tender in the region where they were bitten.  You may see a tuft of hair or some blood where the tooth went in.  They may be reluctant to go outside and be more timid than usual.

The following day, your cat may seem back to normal and many people relax and assume the bite has healed. However, in most cases this is when infection is brewing under the skin.  A cat bite is effectively an injection of bacteria, and these bacteria multiply and create pus – forming an abscess.  The abscess can swell up and will become extremely tender.  The infection may also transfer into the blood stream, making your pet feverish and very unwell.

So what should you do if you hear or see your cat has been in a fight?

The best plan is to bring them in for a check-up.  If a recent puncture wound is detected, a clean of the wound and an antibiotic injection and/or some pain relief may be all that is required.  If an abscess has formed, we will need to lance it to flush and remove the pus.  This may require sedation or an anaesthetic to do, and your pet will also require a longer course of antibiotics.

Cat bites are obviously painful for your pets and can lead to abscess formation.  But there is another risk associated with cat bites, transmission of a virus called Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV).  This virus lives in cat saliva, and is transmitted by bite wounds.  A simple blood test can be done in the clinic two months after a bite to check for FIV antibodies.  If your cat is negative for FIV, a vaccination course can be started to provide protection.

Cat fights can prove very frustrating – especially if your cat seems to come off second best!  Some tips to try and decrease the frequency include;

  • Ensure your cat is spayed or castrated at puberty (approximately 5-6mths). Entire tom cats wander further and are more aggressive. An unneutered female cat will attract male cats.
  • If possible, keep your cat indoors at night. Most cat fights occur after dark.
  • Don’t leave cat food outside, you may be inadvertently feeding a lot of the neighbourhood cats and encouraging conflict over the food bowl.

If you have any questions regarding cat bites, please don’t hesitate to ask the staff at Bayfair and Papamoa Vets.