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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. 

Gunshot Injury Average Cost

From 587 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

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
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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Gunshot Injury Average Cost

From 587 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

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Gunshot Injury Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Finn

dog-breed-icon

long hair

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Legs Aren'T Moving, Limp Back Legs

Our cat was shot and one of the pellets is in his lower spine. Our Vet said that he would be fine and sent us home with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. He did not get surgery the pellet was left in. A few hours later (and after the vet has closed) he tried to get up and his back legs won't move. He has feeling and reactions but he can't walk. The vet is closed until Monday. We are not sure if we need to do anything to get him to pee or eat...we would like some advice on how to care for him until Monday.

Sept. 8, 2018

Finn's Owner

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Susie

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DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pain When Lifted

We just brought a cat home from the humane society. She was shot in the past, she limps some and it is on her back right side/hip. I was told there are still some bb's still inside her . Not sure where....and she also is over weight...she was spayed in Feb 2018 and is up to date on shots....she needs to loose some weight however I think that is going to be difficult due to her leg and condition. I think I need to take her to my vet and let them do a xray, and check her over well....so they can see exactly what happened to her and where if any bb's are still in there because she seems to be tender on her underbelly and does not like to be picked up often..her joints may be hurting her to, I think because she's a bit over weight plus being injured. I'm worried for her, I just want to give her a happy life and make sure I'm doing what I need to in order to give her that.

Sept. 8, 2018

Susie's Owner

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Maxxboy

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tabby

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

I think my cat got shot by a B.B. gun or a pellet gun on his right back side, he is eating well and jumping off my bed like a champ. But when I touch any part of his back he cries. His wound doesn’t look deep. But it is a open round circle wound almost the size of a dime and it is discharging out yellowish watery liquid. I’ve been cleaning the wound 3 time a day and sprayed it with a wound spray. Today is the second day of his open wound. Does he need to go see a vet? Or can I just keep cleaning his wound and keep spraying him with the wound spray? Also I’ve been giving him an aching aid meds that I bought off the counter from petsmart it is “Licks brand” it seems like it’s helping his pain.

Aug. 18, 2018

Maxxboy's Owner

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1 Recommendations

If the wound is open you should visit a Veterinarian to examine the wound as it may require debriding or other management to help speed up the healing process; also the Veterinarian may give something more effective than the natural Ache Aid currently being given. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://lickspillfree.com/product/cat-ache-aid/

Aug. 18, 2018

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Rielly

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Unknown

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Baldness

My cat was missing for a day and he came back home the other day. I noticed he had a lump on the side of his hip yesterday. Today it went completely bald in the area and there are two red circular wounds that are leaking an orange reddish colour which I'm guessing is blood. He's licking the area pretty often but acts as if he is not in pain and cane move perfectly fine. The deep dots look similar to a BB gun wound but the thing is their are two perfectly shaped dots within an inch apart.

Aug. 15, 2018

Rielly's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Without examining Rielly myself I cannot say for certain, but you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination as it may be due to injuries like gunshots or due to other injuries including snake bites or other injuries. Your Veterinarian will be able to tell you more; in the meantime keep the area clean and place a cone on Rielly to prevent excessive licking. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 15, 2018

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Starbucks

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Cat

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Pallet In The Surface If The Skin

My cat appears to have been shot with a pallet gun. The found is clean. No blood. He's been fine in himself. It's at the top of the surface where I'm able to get it out. Shall I get it out and clean the wound up. He's a mischief cat and been in the wars many times before he only has half a tail due to a previous Injury. I'm just wondering with it being at the top of the skin can I remove

Aug. 10, 2018

Starbucks' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

I think that would be quite painful to remove, and Starbucks probably won't appreciate that... Those fragments don't tend to cause any reactions, and as long as the wound does not get infected, you may not need to do anything except monitor it, and him, for any signs of pain or infection. If you feel that the fragment needs to come out, or he is acting abnormally, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian.

Aug. 10, 2018

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Cleo

dog-breed-icon

Calico Cat

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Licking

I recently just got home from vacation and my cat has been home she is a inside outside cat and when I got home today I picked her up and realized some sticky Stuff on my arm when I put her down I then realized on her tail there was a circular wound with no hair around it and on the other side I could feel I think a bb right below the first layer of skin and she doesn’t seem to be in much pain she just meows a lot when I pet near her tail and licks it a lot.. what should I do best to help her get better and help her be in less pain without seeing a vet?

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Max

dog-breed-icon

gray tabby.

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating.Sleeping All Day.

My cat, Max was attacked by an animal in Toronto, about a month after we moved there. The vet took x-rays and treated Max's wounds. The x-rays showed three bullets inside him that we had no idea about. I looked online and found out that someone had been shooting cats in Winnipeg the previous summer. I am horrified. It is now one year later, and Max has an infection. We think it stems from the bullets that were left inside him. The vet suggested that the bullets were not near internal organs, so we could investigate them after he recovered. He has seemed fine—very active for the last year. My question is, do the bullets need to be removed? He is on antibiotics now. The vet did not respond when I asked about the previous year's x-rays.

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Spice

dog-breed-icon

Cat

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Gunshot

So we have our baby girl Spice and we just recently noticed she wasn’t going up on her cat tree as she normally would and also wasn’t going outside at all and that wasn’t normal for her at all! So we started to look at her and we have no idea how long this has been but there’s an entry and exit wound on the middle of her back very high and it had to literally miss breaking her back by millimeters , either way she’s doing all her normal things except moving around as much! She’s still jumping up on her cat tree just not near as often! You can tell the area is still very tender but there’s no drainage and the hair is matted up into a scab. Is there huge cause for concern for her?

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Cashmere

dog-breed-icon

MaineCoon

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Oozing, Red, Deep

My Older long haired cat only has one eye and I believe my neighbors grazed his ear- the outside of his ear with a bullet. It’s a pretty big and deep sore. I don’t have money for a vet, will they still see her? Can I give my cat Tylenol for pain? She’s not acting abnormal but I know it HAS to hurt because of how bad it is. Please help.

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Alex

dog-breed-icon

Cat

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding, Pussing

We found a new cat around 4 years old outside with a bb gun wound near his tail, it has been bleeding and leaking puss for weeks and since it wasn't healing, we took him to the vet. Before we did, she took a strong magnet to the hole, and he flinched. The vet felt something in there, but only squeezed and didn't want to dig. Can a bb stay in there? The vet gave him Clavamox drops. I'm concerned, I want to try the magnet again. We are squirting peroxide on it and antibiotic cream.

Gunshot Injury Average Cost

From 587 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

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