Abscess in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Abscess in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Abscess in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Abscess?

Abscesses arise when the body is unsuccessful in fighting off the underlying infection. An abscess usually has a definitive cause, such as poor dental hygiene, trauma, and injury. An abscess may not be life-threatening on its own, but can develop into a severe condition if left untreated.

Abscesses, usually appearing as pus-filled boils, form when the skin or gums become infected.  Dental abscesses form when bacteria invade the root of a damaged or fractured tooth. Skin abscesses usually occur after an injury, most often a bite from another cat.

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Abscess Average Cost

From 232 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$700

Symptoms of Abscess in Cats

Abscesses are painful and, if left untreated, can lead to the development of serious and even life-threatening infections.  Seek immediate veterinary attention as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Signs of pain, such as pawing at the abscess
  • Loss of hair at the abscess location
  • Bad breath
  • Swelling of the face or gums
  • Red, swollen, or inflamed skin
  • Pus or blood on the skin
  • Excessive itching
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
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Causes of Abscess in Cats

Abscess is generally caused by injury or infection of the gums or skin. Dental abscesses are typically caused by tooth fracture, damage, or decay. Skin abscesses are generally attributed to fighting activity, but may occur as a result of another form of injury. 

Un-neutered male cats have a higher chance of suffering from abscesses due to their aggressive personalities and tendencies to fight. Indoor cats have a decreased risk of developing abscess compared to outdoor cats for the same reason. Young cats, as well as intact cats and those that have developed abscess in the past, also have a higher risk for forming abscesses.

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Diagnosis of Abscess in Cats

Your vet will be able to make a tentative diagnosis following a physical exam based on presentation of symptoms and appearance of boils. Be sure to inform your vet of the extent and duration of your cat’s symptoms, as well as your cat’s outdoor activity and any previous history of abscesses or infection.

The physical examination will usually be sufficient for making a definitive diagnosis. However, your vet may also choose to take a bacterial culture or examine the fluid from the boils using a microscope, particularly if the abscess is difficult to identify. For dental abscesses, your vet may take an x-ray.

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Treatment of Abscess in Cats

Treatment will usually involve cleansing or lancing the boil(s) and prescribing an antibiotic regimen. In order to lance the abscesses, your vet will need to sedate your cat and may put a drain in place. This is to prevent the wound from closing back up and sealing in the infection.

Antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat the underlying bacterial infection in both skin and dental abscess. Antibiotic treatments for abscess are generally prescribed for one to three weeks. In some cases, your vet may prescribe pain management medication as well.

For cases of a dental abscess, your vet will likely need to perform dental surgery.  They may also recommend dietary changes. Your vet will discuss treatment options for a dental abscess with you based on your cat’s individual needs.

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Worried about the cost of Abscess treatment?

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Recovery of Abscess in Cats

Recovery and prognosis will depend on whether or not the abscess has caused a more serious condition. For most cases of abscess, the prognosis is generally good with immediate treatment. Always follow your vet’s post-treatment instructions carefully.

Your cat should begin to improve within a few days of treatment, with complete healing typically observed within two weeks. Do not allow your cat to irritate the drain or the surgery site. An Elizabethan collar may help with this.

If your vet has prescribed antibiotics, it is imperative that you administer the medication for the entire recommended duration of treatment even if the condition starts to improve. Failure to do so could result in aggressive recurrence.

Preventative measures are often advised to avoid future recurrence of abscess. For dental abscess, good dental hygiene is imperative. This involves brushing your cat’s teeth daily, giving them dental treats, and eliminating harmful dental habits such as chewing on hard toys or foods. For skin abscess, it is a good idea to limit your cat’s outdoor activity, particularly if they often engage in fights with other cats.

Your vet will schedule a follow-up appointment within two to five days of treatment in order to remove the drain. However, do not hesitate to contact your vet if the condition does not seem to be improving with treatment, if you notice any swelling around the surgery site, or if the condition recurs.

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Abscess Average Cost

From 232 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$700

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Abscess Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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dog-breed-icon

cat

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3 Years

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4 found helpful

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4 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Wound

Cat wound week 1 pic Week 2 pic Light drainage

Dec. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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4 Recommendations

While it's always tricky to assess these things from photos alone, the lesion appears to be healing as there is now less swelling and bruising. If this was a cat bite, we do usually recommend a course of antibiotics as these lesions often become infected. Many cats also benefit from anti inflammatories and pain relief as there can be signicant discomfort involved. We should clean the area twice daily with cotton wool and salt water and prevent licking with a buster collar. I do hope this helps.

Dec. 8, 2020

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dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

Two Years

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2 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Bumps

Hi! My car has a white bump on his head that has not grown over the past month since I’ve noticed it. However he did scratch it and it has a small scratch on it. The bump is on his left side of his head by the base of his ear and is white. It is not large at all and is about the size of a large pimple on a human.

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Hello, Some cats will get these types of masses as they get older. These are usually benign and nothing to worry about. If it ever starts to grow, then it should be seen by your vet and removed.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Abscess Average Cost

From 232 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$700

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