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Storage - Alextown | The Cat Shack | Treating an Open Wound

After many long hours working on my cat's open wounds, I've learned a little about what works and what doesn't. My first lesson was a very painful lesson for my cat. If your cat has an open wound, please take immediate action to protect that wound from being scratched and made worse by your cat.

Treating an Open Wound

by Cheryl Carroll

My cat received a pretty deep scratch from another cat one day. The scratch was on his face, so when he broke out with little hard bumps on his shoulder, neck, and the opposite side of his face, I didn't connect the two. I woke one morning to find that the bumps were gone and in their place were about nine open wounds. He had scratched at the bumps, but at the time I didn't know that. They were perfect deep circles. I thought a brown recluse spider--or maybe even several of them--had bitten him.

Then things got really bad. My first lesson was a very painful lesson for my cat. I did not take immediate action to protect his wounds from his scratching and they were made much worse by him. Then they got infected. The vet told me that a wound from another animal can cause bacteria to enter the body and infection can spread. I wrapped his shoulders the best I could to keep him from scatching, put a cone on his head and started him on antibiotics. I wasn't sure the one scratch had caused all these wounds, but the vet was positive of it.

I changed the bandage daily, but most of the wounds were not healing. Eventually, two of them healed, which gave me hope and kept me working faithfully to heal the others. Each day, I would wet the bandages down and work slowly to remove them and keep him really clean. I went through three different rounds and types of antibiotics. I was also given some cream and I had purchased some wound spray at the feed store.

On the fourth round of antibiotics, I asked if there was anything else I could do for him. Nothing seemed to be working. I was told to try some over the counter antibiotic ointment.

At first I tried a spray, but he didn't like that at all and it didn't seem to help. Then I got the strongest triple antibiotic ointment with pain relief I could find and put it on his bandages and wrapped him. By the very next morning, his wounds had started to heal. A few days later, the smallest wound was completely closed up and within a week, the rest of them had healed. Amazing!

One thing I discovered, at his expense, was that the skin is not very strong when the sore first heals. I took his protective covering off too soon and he scratched one of the wounds open again. We had to start all over. The skin needs at least a few months to get most of its strength back and even then it won't be as tough as before.

After many long hours working on his wounds, I've learned a little about what works and what doesn't. Here are my suggestions, if your animal is going through this:

  • Take your pet to the vet and get antibiotics and whatever else he initially needs. The antibiotics may work right away for your animal, plus they will help prevent the infection from getting into the bloodstream. I went to different vets and got different types of antibiotics--Amoxicillan, Clavamox, Cefadroxil and Clindamycin.
  • Use the strongest triple antibiotic pain relief ointment out there. I used both generic and name brand, containing 500 units Bacitracin, 3.5 mg Neomycin, 10,000 units Polymyxin B and 10 mg Pramoxine HCI. The generic was just as good, and in fact I liked it better, because it was thicker. The name brand was thin and was absorbed by the bandage more quickly.
  • Keep the wound protected from scratching. A cone works for the head area. I cut up a placemat to make a protective shield for my cat's shoulder and neck. I tied the top of the placemat to the cone to keep it off his neck. I cut straps at the other end to go around his waist and used velcro to attach them.
  • Keep the wound bandaged and free of scabs. Before I used the ointment and against my vet's advice, I tried letting the sores scab up when they wouldn't heal. This only served to give the bacteria a better breeding ground and the wounds got bigger! Scabs are not good. Each day, wet any scab material with warm water and a dropper, or cover with a wet cloth, until it can be easily removed without causing pain.
  • Keep the wound very clean. An elastic bandage daily, spread with ointment, will help control and absorb infection. Make sure you wet it and remove it very slowly and carefully to avoid pulling your pet's skin or meat off with it.
  • Remember that open wounds are very painful to the touch! I can't stress this enough! Even the vets are too rough for my liking when they work with these wounds. Moisture is the key. Don't remove anything that is stuck to the wound. Have patience and get it wet enough that it basically falls off on its own.