When a cat gets injured and ends up with a wound, it’s important to care for it properly so it can heal. Applying the wrong products to a cat’s wound can delay healing and lead to infection. But what is safe to put on a cat’s wound? Here are some tips for caring for a cat’s injuries.
Clean the wound
The first step in caring for any wound is cleaning it. Use a gentle antiseptic wash to clean around the wound and remove any dirt or debris. Saline solution or dilute chlorhexidine are good options. Never use hydrogen peroxide, which can damage healthy tissue. Carefully pat the area dry after cleaning.
Apply antibiotic ointment
After cleaning, apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment like polymixin B or bacitracin. This will help prevent infection in the wound. Be sure to use a product specifically formulated for veterinary use rather than human antibiotic creams. Apply a thin layer of ointment once or twice daily after cleaning.
Cover with a light bandage
You may want to cover the wound with a light bandage or gauze wrap to keep it clean. This is a good idea for wounds on the limbs or body. Don’t wrap the bandage too tightly or it can cut off circulation. Change the bandage daily and check that the wound looks ok underneath.
Use a cone collar
If the wound is any place your cat can reach with their mouth, it’s important to prevent licking. Licking can introduce more bacteria and delay healing. Fit your cat with an Elizabethan collar until the wound has fully closed. This will stop them being able to lick at the area.
Give pain medication
Your vet may prescribe oral pain medication to keep your cat comfortable while the wound heals. Never give your cat human medications like aspirin or acetaminophen as these can be toxic. Only give medications specifically prescribed by your vet for pain relief.
Watch for complications
Monitor the wound closely over the next several days for any signs of trouble. Redness, swelling, oozing, odor, and pain may indicate infection. Take your cat to the vet immediately if the wound seems to be getting worse instead of better.
When to see the vet
Some wounds require veterinary care. See the vet right away if the wound is deep, was caused by a cat bite, is infected, or if there are any signs of internal injuries. Punctures, lacerations, and degloving injuries often need special care as well. Your vet will properly clean and close severe wounds.
Here are some examples of wounds that require prompt veterinary attention:
- Bite wounds
- Punctures or lacerations
- Degloving injuries where skin is peeled away from tissue underneath
- Wounds with Jagged edges
- Large flaps of skin separated from underlying tissue
- Visible bleeding or fluid discharge from the wound
- Any wound near a body cavity like the chest or abdomen
Home care for minor wounds
Very minor wounds can often be treated at home if kept clean and monitored closely. Follow these tips:
- Clean with saline solution or dilute antiseptic wash
- Apply a thin layer of veterinary antibiotic ointment
- Cover with a light gauze wrap if possible
- Use an Elizabethan collar to prevent licking
- Watch closely for signs of infection
- Change dressings and reapply ointment daily
How to make a DIY bandage
You may need to bandage a wound on your cat’s body, leg or tail at home. Here are tips for a safe DIY bandage:
- Place a non-stick telfa pad or gauze directly over the wound
- Wrap the area with rolled gauze or vet wrap
- Secure ends with medical tape but avoid taping directly on skin
- Check circulation by pressing on nail beds – blanching may mean it’s too tight
- Change bandages daily and check wound appearance
What not to put on a cat wound
Some products seem like they’d help a wound but may actually do more harm than good. Never use these on a cat’s wound:
- Hydrogen peroxide – damages healthy tissue
- Alcohol – dries out wound bed
- Iodine – may irritate skin
- Neosporin – not formulated for pets
- Cotton balls – can leave fibers in wound
- Human home remedies – not safe for cats
Monitor for complications
Cats are infamous for hiding signs of pain and illness. Be vigilant and watch your cat closely for any signs of trouble with a wound. Contact your vet immediately if you notice:
- Increased swelling at the site
- Redness spreading from the wound
- Pus or yellow/green discharge
- Foul odor coming from the wound
- Bleeding or fluid seepage
- Loss of tissue or a gaping wound
- Difficulty bearing weight on a limb with a wound
These are all signs of a possible serious infection developing. Cat bite abscesses can form quickly and require prompt veterinary treatment.
Can I use Neosporin on my cat?
No, regular Neosporin is not safe for cats as it contains ingredients that can be toxic if ingested. Use a small amount of veterinary antibiotic ointment instead.
What is the best way to bandage a cat wound?
Clean the wound, apply antibiotic ointment, place a telfa pad or gauze on top, then wrap the area with rolled gauze or vet wrap. Secure ends with tape and check circulation. Change the bandage daily.
Should I put anything on a minor cat scratch?
Clean minor scratches well with saline solution or antiseptic wash. You can apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment. Monitor for signs of infection and see your vet if the scratch doesn’t heal within a few days.
Can I use peroxide to clean a cat wound?
No, hydrogen peroxide is damaging to healthy tissue and delays wound healing. Use a saline wash or dilute chlorhexidine solution to gently cleanse wounds instead.
How do I get my cat to take pain meds?
Try mixing the medication with a small amount of tuna water, broth, or pate-style food. Sometimes crushing pills and mixing with food helps cats accept oral medication. Ask your vet for tips on pilling cats.
Caring for your cat’s wounds properly is important for rapid healing. Clean gently, apply antibiotic ointment, cover if possible, and watch closely for complications. Deep wounds, bites, and serious injuries always warrant prompt vet care for the best outcome. With appropriate treatment most cat wounds heal fully in 1-2 weeks.