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What is Facial Swelling?

Some of these causes of swelling are incredibly serious and need to be treated immediately to protect your cat. It doesn’t matter whether the swelling is only occurring on one side of the face or affecting the entire face, you should bring your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible if you spot any signs.

If you notice your cat’s face looks puffier than usual, he could be suffering from facial swelling. It may be difficult to spot swelling at first, but as it worsens, your cat’s eyes may begin to close as the surrounding area swells. The signs of facial swelling can come on suddenly or develop over time, depending on the underlying cause. Swelling can be caused by a variety of conditions, including exposure to allergens or toxins, dental abscesses, trauma, and insect bites. 

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Facial Swelling Average Cost

From 449 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Facial Swelling in Cats

It’s much easier to spot facial swelling in short haired cats than in long haired cats. Facial swelling is characterized by a puffy, abnormal facial appearance. Depending on the cause, the swelling could affect small areas, one side of the face, or the entire face. You may also notice your cat’s eyes appearing smaller than usual because of the swelling.

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Causes of Facial Swelling in Cats

A number of different factors can cause facial swelling in cats, some which are more severe than others. To ensure your cat is properly treated, take him to an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. Some of the causes include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Dental abscess
  • Facial trauma
  • Insect/snake bite
  • Muscle inflammation
  • Inflamed salivary glands
  • Acetaminophen poisoning
  • Cancer
  • Hematoma
  • Infection
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Diagnosis of Facial Swelling in Cats

Bring your cat into a veterinarian as soon as you see signs of facial swelling. Provide as much information as possible to your vet regarding your cat’s diet and medical history. If your cat has any known allergies, make sure you mention this to the veterinarian.  You should also let your veterinarian know if you have an outside cat, as snakes or insects can easily come into contact with outside cats.

Next, the veterinarian will begin a physical examination of your cat. He will look for signs of insect or snake bites, wounds, infection, and hives, which are often present during an allergic reaction. Veterinarians will also check the skin to look for signs of hematoma, which is characterized by skin discoloration. The veterinarian may also look inside your cat’s mouth to determine if a dental abscess could be causing the facial swelling.

If the swelling is localized, the veterinarian may be able to determine if it is caused by muscle or salivary gland inflammation. However, localized swelling can also be caused by tumors, which the veterinarian may be able to feel during the physical examination. If no cause is determined after the physical examination, the veterinarian may perform X-rays or an ultrasound to check for tumors in the head or neck. Biopsies may need to be performed on any tumors that are found to determine if they are cancerous.

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Treatment of Facial Swelling in Cats

The treatment plan will depend on the cause of facial swelling. Allergic reactions will often be treated with corticosteroids and antihistamines. If the swelling is caused by an infection, the bacteria may need to be cultured to determine which antibiotic will be the most effective. Muscle or salivary gland inflammation is usually treated with anti-inflammatory medication and steroids. 

Veterinarians may recommend letting hematomas clear up on their own, but in some cases, they may think it is best to drain the hematoma before sending your cat home. 

If your cat has been diagnosed with cancer, the treatment will depend on the severity of the disease. Your cat may require surgery to remove the tumor, along with radiation and chemotherapy.

If your cat has ingested acetaminophen, the veterinarian will administer acetylcysteine, which will protect the liver from serious damage. Cats suffering from acetaminophen poisoning will need to stay with the veterinarian for several days for intensive therapy.  

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Recovery of Facial Swelling in Cats

Most cats will fully recover from facial swelling, especially if the cause was an allergic reaction or infection. However, if the swelling was caused by cancer or acetaminophen toxicity, your cat’s recovery will depend on the severity of his condition.

Be sure to administer medications to your cat as advised by the veterinarian. If the swelling was caused by an allergy, try to remove any potential allergens from your cat’s environment. It’s recommended that you keep your cat indoors to limit his exposure to potential allergens, insects, and snakes.

The veterinarian may ask that you bring your cat in shortly after your initial visit to ensure the swelling has gone down and the underlying cause is being properly treated.

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Facial Swelling Average Cost

From 449 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$850

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Written by hannah hollinger

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Published: 11/13/2016, edited: 04/28/2021

More articles by hannah hollinger

Facial Swelling Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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cat

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Four Years

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My cat has a little sore under her chin. It has been a little swollen but seems do have gone down since this morning. It doesn't affect her eating or activity level or seem to really bother her.

Jan. 31, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello you can apply triple antibiotic ointment to this sore. It is continues to get bigger it would be best for your vet to look at it.

Jan. 31, 2021

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scottish fold

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One Year

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2 found helpful

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Swelling

Sudden swelling of cheek and eye with white discharge from eye. Also third eyelid is out covering eye

Dec. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear that your cat is not feeling good. This can be an eye infection or a scratch on the surface of the eye. Without being able to examine the eye it is hard to tell. it would be best for her to see your vet for an eye exam and them to prescribe antibiotic drops if needed. You can keep the eye clean with saline for contacts.

Dec. 26, 2020

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siamese

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Four Months

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2 found helpful

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Eye Infection

That caused swelling

Nov. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Kittens can have eye diseases that cause infections and swelling, commonly. Sometimes, they can get very swollen and might need medication. if this is something you are noticing that is new, it would be a good idea to take your kitten to a veterinarian, as they can look at her, see what might be causing the infection, and get the right medication for her.

Nov. 25, 2020

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cat

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11 found helpful

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Face Swelling

Face is swelling on the right side but no scar or scratch can be seen

Nov. 11, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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11 Recommendations

Swelling can have many causes including a cat bite abscess, dental disease, insect bite, allergy etc. A vet check would be needed to determine what is going on and prescribe the appropriate medicine. In the mean time, prevent any rubbing or scratching the area. I would also feed soft food in case there is oral pain.

Nov. 11, 2020

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Short hair

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1yr

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4 found helpful

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Swollen Face

Cat stopped grooming, then noticed having trouble eating hard food she would seem to gag. Looking inside mouth could not see anything lodged or anything wrong with teeth. Day later offered wet food, no go. Noticed swelling in chin/jaw area have not touched it because she will pull away and growl. Did not want to cause more pain been letting her rest in a dark room. Warmed some food with liquid/broth she ate it slowly..but still no grooming... to me I feel it may be an access tooth but trying to find relief for her till I can get to the clinic

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is possible that it is an abscessed tooth, or bite or fight wound, but it certainly does sound sore. There isn't really anything that you can do at home, other than try to keep her eating soft food, until you can see a veterinarian. I hope that she is okay.

Oct. 9, 2020

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peanut

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Striped

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4 Years

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Fair severity

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Head Tilt , Off Balance ,

Peanut was an outside cat , found her hiding , she couldn't stand up , gave her water , she nibbled at food , stay down for 3 days , but was eating and drinking , she started moving around , but tilts her head to the right ,

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UNO

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Cat

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3 Years

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Swelling
Face Swollen
Cat
Cat Face

My cat face was swollen about two weeks ago for a few hours I thought he might been stung he when out and came back with a small whole in his face where the swelling was with light pink colour blood coming out of it but it healed up about 3-4 after so I thought it was getting better but today the whole has reopened and has a lot of blood coming. Has anyone had this problem? I was going to take him to the vet.

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Mamas

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all black cat

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Face

my cat is an outdoor cat (she hates being inside) and she was fine the day before yesterday.... yesterday morning i noticed the left side of her face is HUGE. her eyes aren't swollen, she's eating, using the bathroom and it doesn't seem to be super uncomfortable because she's letting me touch it and it just feels like a hard ball. she's never been to a vet and they're all closed due to this pandemic. i need some type of help, can someone please tell me what i can do to help her? im so worried about her, she's never had any problems like this ever.

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Lucky Char

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Barn kitten turned domestic, short

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6 Months

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Mild severity

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Facial Swelling Slightly Tender

So I have a cat that was a barn cat's kitten that we took in around 4 weeks and she's been inside ever since. She's recently gotten out a couple times for no more then half a day I think because she was in heat and has probably done the deed, if ya know what I mean, a few times. Well this last time she was out for over a day and when I finally got her back in I didn't notice anything right away because I was late for work, but now that I really look at her she's got a swollen face on the right side. She had been growling at the other barn cats out there (that are probably her family or related at least) and looked like there was some roughed up fur by her neck and I think I felt something by her ear so I'm thinking she got into a tussle with one of them and got hurt. I don't really have the money to take her in atm...is there anything I can do in the meantime?

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Chevy

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Short hair black cat with green eyes.

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17 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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No Discharge
No Discharge, Seems Happy

I’ve noticed my cat’s eyes have had a strange appearance to them. Not the eyes themselves, but his eyelids. He is 17 years old and it’s as if the hair on his eyelids is really thinning OR they’re swollen or puffy. He’s eating and using his litter box as normal. He is an indoor/outdoor cat, however, he hasn’t been spending too much time outside now as I live in Minnesota and winter is upon us. He also doesn’t mind when I pet him and touch his eyelids. I don’t know what breed he is since I adopted the cat from my brother who’s ex left behind.

Facial Swelling Average Cost

From 449 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$850

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