FELINE abscesses are common feline wounds encountered in small animal practice and occur when bacteria are inoculated into the skin.
An abscess is a localized accumulation of pus. There are several factors that put cats in situations that increase the risk of acquiring an injury that can lead to an abscess. These risk factors include: intact male cats permitted to roam outdoors, multi-cat households, and presence of feral cat populations.
In addition, certain patient characteristics may predispose a cat to abscess development. These include immunosuppression from medications, feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infection, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection, diabetes mellitus, and chronic kidney failure. Abscesses form when a causative bacterium is inoculated into the skin. This occurs from bite wounds, trauma, or spread through blood from another location to the skin.
Bite wounds from cat fights are the most common cause of abscess. It is known that healthy cat mouths contain several types of infective bacteria. Traumatic injury from foreign objects such as a stick or wire may also introduce bacteria into the skin, causing formation of an abscess. For cat bite abscesses, cats are commonly presented for a rapidly appearing painful swelling.
Abscesses often occur under the fur on the abdomen, face, neck, tail, shoulder, and limbs; sites commonly bitten during fighting. Abscesses are characterised by swelling, pain, heat, and a purulent, malodorous discharge if ruptured. Abscesses illicit an inflammatory response, so signs include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, hiding, aggression and limping.
Minor surgery is typically necessary in the management of feline abscesses. Consult your veterinarian if you have concerns regarding animal health related issues.