Gunshot Injury Average Cost

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What is Gunshot Injury?

Even the smallest of gunshot wounds can mask extreme internal damage that will need to be treated right away. If you suspect your cat has a gunshot injury, you need to bring him to the veterinarian immediately, regardless of the size of the wound. 

Cat owners never want to think their cat could be shot, but it’s always a possibility. Neighbors may shoot a cat if they believe it shouldn’t be on their property, or gunshot injures could be the result of a tragic accident. Many people witness this traumatizing incident themselves, but if you are not present, you may notice massive amounts of blood and your cat struggling to breathe or walk. 

Symptoms of Gunshot Injury in Cats

Most of the time, owners will have witnessed their cats being shot by a gun, therefore, they won’t need to look for specific symptoms to know there is a problem. However, if you did not witness the incident, you should keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bleeding
  • Small, open wounds
  • Limping
  • Grunting or moaning

Causes of Gunshot Injury in Cats

Unfortunately, many cats are victims of gunshot injuries after being shot with a firearm or air gun. The shooter may have shot your cat intentionally or accidentally, but either way, the injuries could be fatal. The severity of the injury will depend on where your cat was shot and what bullets were used. Bullets can enter the cat’s body and pierce organs or major blood vessels, but other times, the bullets may only graze the cat’s skin and cause external damage.

Diagnosis of Gunshot Injury in Cats

Bring your cat to a vet immediately after spotting the signs of a gunshot injury, or witnessing the attack yourself. Give your vet as much information as possible regarding what you saw and what symptoms you have observed. The vet will perform a physical examination to determine the entry wound (and exit wound, if there is one) created by the bullet. At this point, he should be able to identify a gunshot wound but may need to perform further testing to determine the extent of the injury. Even if a gunshot injury appears to be small, this does not indicate the internal damage is minor. 

X-rays are usually taken to see the internal damage caused by the bullet. This will also reveal whether there is any metal or bullets lodged within your cat’s body. If your cat is in extreme pain, the vet may choose to sedate him while he performs these tests. 

Treatment of Gunshot Injury in Cats

Treatment will vary depending on the location of severity of the gunshot injury. Your cat will most likely need to be sedated, if he hasn’t been already, so the vet can disinfect the wound and remove any foreign objects that may have been left behind from the bullet. 

If your cat was shot in the chest, there is little that can be done if the bullet pierced through the heart or major blood vessels in this area. The vet may perform emergency surgery, but this is rarely successful. If the bullet did not pierce any vital organs or blood vessels, but is found lodged within the chest, the vet may decide to leave the bullet there and focus on treating the wound. However, if your cat is having trouble breathing or is going into shock, surgery is needed to attempt to remove the bullet.

Shots to the leg may break bones or damage your cat’s muscles. A gunshot to this area is much less severe than one to the chest, and can usually be treated with surgery. Your cat may need to wear a cast until he has fully recovered.

Surgery is also required if your cat suffered a gunshot to the abdomen. Bullets often pierce vital organs in this area, so the vet will need to perform emergency surgery to repair the organ. In some cases, such as when the bullet hits a kidney, the organ will be partially or completely removed to prevent further damage.

Recovery of Gunshot Injury in Cats

Whether your cat recovers from a gunshot injury will depend on the location and severity of the injury, as well as how quickly he was treated. If your cat receives emergency surgery and survives, there is a possibility that the wound will become infected after you take him home. Talk to your vet about how you can ensure you keep his wounds clean. Your cat may need to wear something around his neck, such as an Elizabethan collar or cone, to prevent himself from licking his wound. The vet may also prescribe your cat antibiotics to facilitate healing.

Once your cat has fully recovered, try to keep a close eye on him and keep him on your property at all times to reduce the risk of him being shot again.

Gunshot Injury Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

short hair
2 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Open wound

My cat loves to go outside and she will not let me keep her inside. Several days ago I noticed a large lump on her side which i decided to watch for a few days. Last night she came inside and the lump was gone. I examined the area and it look like she punctured and drain what ever was causing the lump. I showed my mom her injury and she took one look and said someone shot her with a B.B. gun and Michelle (my cat) pulled it out. The area looks clean and I'm sure she got it all but now she won't leave the spot alone and i feel like I should treat it with something and wrap it up so she leaves it alone. Please help

Health Expert
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1711 Recommendations
Unfortunately some people (I use the term loosely) use other peoples pets and wild animals for target practice; if a body cavity hasn’t been penetrated you should bathe the area with a dilute antiseptic and apply an antibiotic ointment to the area (place a cone on her to stop her licking the area). However, you should visit your Veterinarian to check the wound to ensure that it will heal properly (no dead tissue) and Michelle may require systemic antibiotics in case of secondary infection. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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8 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Shallow Rapid Breathing

My cat was shot by a neighbor with a BB gun today. The BB traveled through both lungs, but appears to have missed the heart/major blood vessels, based on the vet's x Ray. My dad has taken her to MedVet in Columbus, but I'm not there and haven't heard anything. Is there something that can be done to repair her lungs/ assure that she's not at a much higher risk for lung collapse for rest of her life? This is all assuming she hasn't been bleeding massively while we travelled to Ohio (we do know there is some internal bleeding)...what do you think the general prognosis is for this type of situation?

Health Expert
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1711 Recommendations
Firstly, report your neighbour to the authorities; animal cruelty is not accepted anywhere in the civilised world. Gunshot wounds are difficult to determine a prognosis, especially if treatment was delayed due to travelling or Keek wasn’t found until sometime after the injury. Surgical correction of the lungs and thoracic cavity walls may be able to be done, but Keek would need to be stabilised and in a suitable condition for surgery; I do not want to give you any false hope or doom and gloom, I would just take it as it goes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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