Late last month Racer came to us with quite an odd lump on his head - the nurses joked he looked a bit like a unicorn! His owner had noticed the bump a day earlier and also noted that he was off his food and not his normal self. After closer examination by Dr. Tanya Lovelock it was found that his bump was actually the result of a cat fight wound and now an abscess. Depending on the severity of the infection they can sometimes be treated with antibiotics, however the abscess usually needs to be found within 24 hours. In Racer’s case the abscess needed to be cut open and flushed under general anaesthetic to effectively treat it. He was immediately admitted following the consult in order to be prepped for surgery that day.
Given his age of 11, we recommended that Racer have a pre-anaesthetic blood test. The test gives us a good indication of how our pets internal organs are functioning, mainly the kidneys and liver. Since these are the organs which metabolise the drugs it allows us to tailor the anaesthetic for the pet. Luckily Racer’s blood results were good and we were able to proceed with the surgery as normal.
Racer was placed under general anaesthetic by Dr. Tanya and assisted by Nurse Rebecca. Once under, the area on his head was shaved and disinfected. Due to the nature of the abscess it had to be lanced. This process removes the puss from the wound. It was then flushed with sterile saline and a “drain” was placed under the skin. This allows further infection to drain away over the next few days. Racer was given pain medication and antibiotics to further combat the infection. He was then fitted with an Elizabethan collar to stop him from pawing at the stitches and wound on his head.
Racer was back a few days later to have the drain removed , the wound looked much better and the lump had dramatically reduced in size. He then returned 10 days post surgery for the sutures to be removed. At this point Racer was doing much better, back to his normal self and promising to stay out of trouble in the future.
Cat fights can be distressing for both you and your cat. Along with the physical wounds we can see, the risk of contracting diseases from other cats is quite high. The main disease that we see transmitted between cats during fights is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). FIV is a viral disease that affects the immune system of domestic cats. FIV is the feline equivalent of the human virus HIV and as such behaves in the same way, destroying the immune system and leaving a cat susceptible to infections and disease. Once the cat has been infected, FIV can then progress to feline acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, otherwise known as Feline AIDs. FIV is a cat specific virus and cannot be transferred to humans or other species. Although there is no successful treatment for FIV infection it can be vaccinated against as long as a cat is not FIV positive already. The FIV vaccination consists of an initial course of 3 vaccinations 2-4 weeks apart, then a yearly booster. It is important if your cat is outdoors or might at some point become an outdoor cat to have them vaccinated for FIV.
For more information on FIV and cat fight wounds, click here.