Cat Skin & Wound Care Products
*Please seak veterinary help immiediately for any significant medical issue.
In the care of wounds, the two most important considerations
are (a) first stop the bleeding, and (b) then prevent infection.
Be prepared to restrain before you treat the wound (see Handling and
CONTROL OF BLEEDING
Bleeding may be arterial (the spurting of bright red blood)
or venous (oozing of dark red blood) or sometimes both. Do not
wipe a wound that has stopped bleeding. This will dislodge the clot. Do
not pour peroxide on a fresh wound. Bleeding then will be difficult
The two methods used to control bleeding are the pressure dressing and the
Pressure Dressing: Take several pieces of clean or sterile gauze, place
them over the wound and bandage snugly. Watch for swelling of the limb below
the pressure pack. Swelling indicates impaired circulation. The bandage must
be loosened or removed.
If material is not available for bandaging, place a pad on the wound and press
it firmly. Hold it in place until help arrives.
An infected cat-fight wound. It should be treated as described in the
A method to temporarily control arterial bleeding is to apply pressure over
the artery in the groin or axilla (armpits). To locate, see CIRCULATORY SYSTEM: Pulse.
Often this action will stop bleeding long enough to permit an assistant to
apply a pressure dressing.
Tourniquet: A tourniquet may be needed to control a spurting artery.
It can be applied to the leg or tail above the wound (between the wound and
the heart). Take a piece of cloth or gauze roll and loop it around the limb.
Then tighten it by hand or with a stick inserted into the loop, twisting the
stick until bleeding is controlled. If you see the end of the artery, you might
attempt to pick it up with tweezers and tie it off with a piece of cotton thread.
When possible, this should be left to a trained practitioner.
A tourniquet should be loosened every 30 minutes, for two to three minutes,
to let blood flow into the limb.
TREATING THE WOUND
All wounds are contaminated with dirt and bacteria. Proper care
and handling will prevent some infections. Before handling a wound, make
sure your hands and instruments are clean. Starting at the edges of a fresh
wound, clip the hair back to enlarge the area. Cleanse the edges with a
damp gauze or pad. Irrigate the wound with clean tap water. Apply antibiotic
ointment. Bandage as described below.
Older wounds covered with pus and scab are cleaned with 3 percent hydro- gen
peroxide solution diluted 1 part to 5 parts water. Hydrogen peroxide
can damage tissue, so use it only once. Thereafter, cleanse with a Betadine solution
(dilute 1 part to 10 parts water). Blot dry. Apply an antibiotic ointment such
as Triple Antibiotic Ointment or Neomycin and leave the wound
open or bandage as described below.
Dressings over infected wounds should be changed frequently to aid in the drainage
of pus and allow you to apply fresh ointment.
Fresh lacerations over 1/2 inch long should be sutured to prevent
infection, minimize scarring and speed healing.
Wounds older than 12 hours are quite likely to be infected. Suturing is questionable.
BITES are heavily contaminated wounds. They are often puncture wounds. They
are quite likely to get infected and should not be sutured. Antibiotics are
indicated. Most wounds incurred in a cat fight are punctures.
With all animal bites, the possibility of rabies should be kept in mind.
Bandages are more difficult to apply to cats than to dogs and,
once applied, are more difficult to keep in place. Cats that do not tolerate
bandages and continually remove them may be helped by tranquilization.
Wounds about the head and wounds draining pus are best left open to help
drainage and ease of treatment.
When a cat claws and macerates a wound or continually scratches at a skin condition,
treatment can be facilitated by bandaging its back feet or clipping its nails.
Bandaging is made much easier when a cat is gently but firmly restrained as
discussed earlier in this chapter. The bandaging equipment you will need is
listed in the Home Emergency and Medical Kit at the beginning of this
Foot and Leg Bandages: To bandage a foot, place several sterile gauze
pads over the wound. Insert cotton balls between the toes and hold in place
with adhesive tape looped around the bottom of the foot and back across the
top until the foot is snugly wrapped.
For leg wounds, begin by wrapping the foot as described. Then cover
the wound with several sterile gauze pads and hold in place with strips of
adhesive tape. Wrap the tape around the leg but do not overlap it because you
want the tape to stick to the hair. This technique keeps the dressing from
sliding up and down, which often happens when only a roll gauze bandage is
used. Flex the knee and foot several times to assure that the bandage is not
too tight and that there is good circulation and movement at the joints.
When a dressing is to be left in place for some time, check every few hours
to be sure the foot is not swelling. If there is any question about the sensation
or circulation to the foot, loosen the dressing. Cats will frequently attempt
to lick, bite or remove dressings that are too tight and uncomfortable.
Many-Tailed Bandage: This bandage is used to protect the skin of the
abdomen, flanks or back from scratching and biting and to hold dressings in
place. It is made by taking a rectangular piece of linen and cutting the sides
to make tails. Tie the tails together over the back to hold it in place.
A many-tailed bandage may be used to keep kittens from nursing on infected
A method of applying a foot bandage. Tape loosely to allow for good
Eye bandage.Wrap a gauze roll around the eye. A pad may be placed beneath.
Secure with tape to the hair. The ears should be free.
Eye Bandage: At times your veterinarian may prescribe an eye bandage
in the treatment of an eye ailment. Place a sterile gauze square over the affected
eye and hold it in place by taping around the head with one-inch adhesive.
Be careful not to get the tape too tight. Apply the dressing so that the ears
You may be required to change the dressing from time to time to apply medication
to the eye.
Ear Bandage: These dressings are difficult to apply. Most ear injuries
can be left open. To protect the ears from scratching, apply an Elizabethan
Elizabethan Collar: The Elizabethan collar, named for the high neck
ruff popular in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, is a useful device to keep a
cat from scratching at the ears and biting at wounds and skin problems. These
collars can be purchased from some veterinarians or pet stores or can
be made from a piece of heavy flexible cardboard. Cut out a circle 12 inches
in diameter. In the center, cut out a hole 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Cut out
a wedge (like a piece of pie) one quarter of the circumference of the circle.
Fit the collar around the cat's neck and secure the sides with adhesive tape.
Make sure the collar is not too tight around the neck. Fasten the device to
the cat's leather collar by strings passed through holes punched in the sides
of the cardboard. Many cats cannot or will not drink while wearing an Elizabethan
collar. In that case, temporarily remove the collar. Cats with Elizabethan
collars must be kept indoors.
Dr. Dog Note: A viewer of our site commented that the cardboard collar
did not work for her cat. However she had success "making one out of a hard
plastic large butter dish and another later on out of a Cool Whip dish."
Copyright 1998, Macmillan Publishing. All rights reserved.