Tibbles' fighting gets him in trouble

Tibbles is a 13 year old male cat who, like many cats, sometimes runs into a bit of trouble with other cats in his area. His owner brought him to the clinic last month as Tibbles had gotten into a fight with another cat and his owner was worried that he had an abscess. Tibbles has had similar abscesses in the past so his owner knew what signs to look for. A swollen lump was spotted under his foreleg and he was not being as active as usual.

An abscess is a localised infection under the skin resulting in a pocket of purulent material. Sometimes these will burst and begin to drain. In other cases the pet will need surgery to open the pocket. Once it is open, the infected material can drain away and the wound can begin to heal. Patients are given a course of antibiotics to help in the healing process. If abscesses are not treated, they can cause a lot of pain and discomfort to the pet and the infection can affect other parts of the body. They are common in cats after fights but can affect dogs and rabbits too. A trip to the vet is the best course of action for your pet.

Dr Suzanne examined Tibbles and discovered that he had a high temperature. This is consistent with a cat bite abscess as the animal's body fights the infection. The abscess was located relatively deeply under the muscle layer so Dr Suzanne decided to perform a 'fine needle aspirate' of the lump before going any further. This involves probing the pocket with a needle and examining the material inside it. This test confirmed that Tibbles had an abscess.

As the pocket was still closed, Dr Suzanne decided that the best thing for Tibbles would be to surgically drain and clean the abscess. His owner agreed with the decision so Tibbles was given an anitbiotic injection, admitted to hospital and placed on general anaesthetic and intravenous fluids

Later the same day, surgery was performed on Tibbles. Dr Suzanne made a surgical incision over the abscess and drained the infected material away. The pocket was flushed with an antiseptic wash and sutured shut. A drain was placed - this is a soft, thin rubber tube which allows any new fluid to drain out of the pocket so that the abscess does not reform.

Tibbles woke up well after his surgery and stayed in hospital overnight. The next day his owner came and took him home. The drain needed to stay in place for several days. His owner would need to keep the area clean and give him antibiotics every day. All going well, Tibbles is expected to make a complete recovery. We all hope that he will be more diplomatic with the neighbourhood cats in future!