Maddy's sore tail

Maddy had been quiet and subdued for about a week, hiding and off her food. Her concerned mum noticed a sore under her tail and brought her straight down for us to look at. Maddy had an abscess (a swollen area full of pus) under her tail which had burst and and was very painful.

The most common reason for abscesses in cats is either a bite or scratch from another cat. In our urban environment we have a lot of domestic cats in a small area - cats by nature are territorial and fighting is their way of maintaining or expanding on their territory. Although it is unwanted and unsociable behaviour is is natural for cats (especially unfamiliar ones) in close quarters to fight. Keeping your cat indoors or in a cat enclosure is the only way you can be sure they will not get into fights, even those that stay in at night time are at risk of getting into trouble.

Because cats dig in dirt (especially when toileting) there is a lot of bacteria under the nails, their mouths also have high bacterial numbers. It is when these bacteria are introduced under the skin (by a tooth or nail) that an abscess forms.

Things you may notice at home are: lethargy, your cat feels hot, has a lump or swelling that has come up suddenly (this may even burst and have a very smelly thick discharge), she may be off her food and very quiet or sore to touch. The bacteria that cause abscesses are nasty and cause a lot of damage to the skin and surrounding tissues. Abscess are very painful and all require aggressive antibiotic therapy and often surgery to help drainage and reduce the risk of recurrence and extensive tissue damage.

The other risk we need to consider when cats fight is FIV or feline AIDs. This is a viral condition which spreads when an infected cat bites another. FIV is a severely debilitating disease reducing the ability of a cats immune system to work efficiently. Luckily for Maddy she had been vaccinated against FIV so was one less thing her mum had to worry about.

For Maddy however a course of antibiotics, a clean up and special Elizabethan collar to stop her licking the wound were what was needed, with a week things were healed and back to normal.

If you would like any further information on cat fight abscesses or feline AIDs please call the Clinic.

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