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What are Thermal Burns?

If your cat has suffered from a thermal burn, the first step is to get your cat away from the source of the burn and examine it. Do not apply ice, ointments, or extreme temperatures to the affected area, such as ice or cold water; these may exacerbate tissue damage and cause your cat to go into shock. Thermal burns should always be treated as an emergency that warrants immediate veterinary attention.

Thermal burns are one of the most common types of burns in cats. Thermal burns occur when cats come into contact with sources of extreme heat – these may include fire, hot or boiling liquids, or other hot objects. Thermal burns are a traumatic type of injury and are usually accidental in nature.

Thermal Burns Average Cost

From 232 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,500

Symptoms of Thermal Burns in Cats

Symptoms may vary depending on what caused the burn. Typically, there will be immediate evidence of a thermal burn. Take your cat to the vet as soon as possible if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Signs of pain, such as yowling
  • Red, swollen, inflamed skin
  • Blackened skin
  • Pus-filled or draining blisters
  • Limping or lameness

Types 

Thermal burns range in severity. However, any and all thermal burns should be treated as an emergency as there is no way for an owner to know the extent of tissue damage resulting from a burn.

Superficial Burn

This the least severe type of burn in cats, and is commonly known as a first-degree burn. Superficial burns affect the surface of the skin, and are characterized by red, swollen blisters.

Partial Thickness Burn

The partial thickness burn extends into the dermis, the second layer of skin, and is commonly known as second-degree burn. These burns are similar in appearance to superficial burns and will bleed when pricked.

Deep Partial Thickness Burn

This type of burn, which is also classed as a second-degree burn, is characterized by a blotchy appearance with red and white blisters that are typically filled with fluid.

Full Thickness Burn

This is the most severe type of thermal burn. The skin turns black and feels like leather. Full thickness burns result in complete destruction of the nerves as well as the top two layers of skin.

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Causes of Thermal Burns in Cats

The primary cause of thermal burns in cats is traumatic, and usually accidental, injury.

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Diagnosis of Thermal Burns in Cats

Call the vet as soon as you can to let them know what happened and notify them that this will be an emergency case. Do not attempt to clean or wash the burn; your cat will be in pain, but you may make it worse by touching or otherwise irritating the affected area.

Your vet will be able to make a diagnosis based on presentation of symptoms and appearance of the burns. Be sure to tell your vet how your cat was burned and when. During the appointment, your vet will clean the skin, evaluate the type of burn, and assess the tissue damage as best they can. However, it should be noted that the full extent of tissue damage may take several days to manifest.

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Treatment of Thermal Burns in Cats

Treating thermal burns will depend on the severity, location, and size of the burn. Burns involving less than fifteen percent of the cat’s body are typically treated with antibiotic topical treatments and pain management medication. Burns affecting more than fifteen percent of the body are treated more aggressively, through medication and/or surgery. If more than fifty percent of the body is burned, the prognosis is typically very poor. Your vet will be able to advise you on a treatment plan based on your cat’s specific needs.

During treatment, the vet will clean the affected skin and remove any dead tissue from the burn, as this is a breeding ground for bacteria. They will then apply the most suitable topical treatment and bandage the burn. Oral antibiotics are usually also prescribed. For severe burns, hospitalization, coupled with intravenous fluid and nutritional therapies, may be required. 

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Recovery of Thermal Burns in Cats

Recovery and prognosis will depend on the severity, location, and size of the burn. Always follow your vet’s post-treatment and/or post-operative instructions carefully. Never administer any burn ointments made for human use as these may worsen the condition. Administer all medications exactly as directed.

Superficial burns generally take a week to heal. Partial thickness and deep partial thickness burns may take two to four weeks to heal. Full thickness burns will take more than four weeks to heal.

Upon your cat’s return home, you may need to limit outdoor activity if they require an extensive recovery. Ensure they have a safe place to rest. You will likely need to apply topical antibiotic ointments and bandages every twenty-four hours, as directed by your vet.

If you have any questions, or if the burn does not seem to be healing with treatment, contact your vet immediately.

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Thermal Burns Average Cost

From 232 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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Thermal Burns Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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bengal

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Six Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Red

Her upper back right leg near the anus is swollen and has blackened skin the ER vet thinks its a burn but isn't certain i was just hoping to get another opinion

Oct. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is difficult to say what might be going on without being able to see the area If your veterinarian thought that it may be a burn, and your cat is outside at any time or was in a place where that might have happened, I think that is possible. It may be that the skin is darkened from chronic irritation, as well, but that is something that has a fairly typical appearance, and the ER veterinarian probably would have picked up on that.

Oct. 26, 2020

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Domestic Cat

dog-age-icon

Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Excessive Saliva, Tongue Bleeding, High Fever

My cats tongue is sticking out and is bleeding a little , he has some excess saliva, and a high fever. He had some stomach pain but that went away.He is currently with the Vet. He’s been tested for all major illnesses and they all came back negative so the vet has no idea what his diagnosis is. Do you have any idea?

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I would think of some sort of stomatitis, without being able to see him or examine him.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Shorthair tabby cat

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6 months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

My father had a kettle pot for his tea and my kitty jumped on his leg and he spilt a couple drops of hot water which landed on kitty’s back. Kitty started licking and scratching the area, so i dampened a wash cloth of room temp. water to lightly pat the area. His fur wasn’t singed or anything that was noticeable to the eye. Online it told us that it should heal within 2 weeks; but unfortunately I noticed small bumps under his fur, he won’t let me look deep enough before trying to play with me, I haven’t gotten the chance to look while he slept yet. I don’t know if it’s knotted fur or not?

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without being able to see your kitchen, I can't say whether it is knotted fur or it is tissue injury from the burn. If you noticed that he is seems painful in that area, or it is starting to ooze or scab over or seems infected or irritated, then it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine him and see more what's going on. I hope that he is okay.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Shadow

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Half Persian

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Burn
Hardskin
Thickenedskin
Soar

Hi my cat had some hot tea spilt on his back at the time he ran around like crazy I then put cool water on area and held him in a cool towel which he seemed to appreciate he was fine within 15 mins. it’s been a week and he’s playful with his brother and cuddly as always but I’ve noticed just below his shoulder blades and above his hips just on the spine area under his fur u can feel what seems to be some scabbing or thick hardness that’s developed any advice? When you part his fur you cant see his skin generally so hard to see only feel. Should I put any type of cream /ointment or oil on it to soothe? Is there anything I should look for and will he loose the fur on that area of his back?? He’s not in pain when u stoke it still purrs and rolls on his belly for tummy rubs and eating well

Aug. 15, 2018

Shadow's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

That skin may have been scarred, but if you aren't noticing any odor or loss of skin, you may be fine to monitor him. It is possible that the skin will die and slough, in which case he will need veterinary care to help heal that area.

Aug. 15, 2018

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Sammy

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Orange tabby

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Burn-Like Patches

So Sammy seems to have a history of getting out, and he suddenly stopped appearing around the house. We found him under a bed curled up like a ball. He has what seems to be burn marks or scabs on his paw pads, likely from escaping on the roof. They don't seem to be too bad though, but how long should it take for him to heal, given it likely happened two days ago? And if needed, what would be recommended for him to be treated with?

July 15, 2018

Sammy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

If Sammy is otherwise okay, and is eating and drinking and acting normally, and the wounds on his feet aren't getting infected, it may take a few days for his feet to heal, and no treatment may be needed as cats will lick any ointment off. If he is not eating and drinking, or seems lethargic or painful, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian to make sure that he is okay and see if he does need any treatment.

July 15, 2018

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Binky

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tabby

dog-age-icon

6 Months

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Fair severity

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Black Frazzled Ear
Small Lump On Ear

My kitten seems to have a burn on the top of her ear - we think she must've touched a hot pan, but we didn't see her do it and she didn't moan. The ear has gone a bit black and frazzled at the top and there is a lump on the inside. She seems absolutely fine and I dabbed it with cold water and she made no fuss, but not sure if I need to take her to the vets?

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Pony Boy

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short hair

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Thickening Of Outside Of Ear

Pony Boy burned his inner and outer ear on the tip of a hot iron over six months ago. He's being treated by my Vet who comes to the house 2x a week with a laser device and applies ointment. There is a lot of scabbing that falls out of the ear and it continues to bleed on and off when he shakes his head. Is this laser therapy a common treatment for burns? Any other suggestions? Its obvious it still bothers him.

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Mongo

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short hair

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Scabbing Over And Shedding Top Laye

A feral cat had been coming around eating for a couple of years when he showed up with a thermal burn from the corner of his left eye down the shoulder and under the neck. I slipped antibiotics into his food and he healed slowly. Two years later he came in with a ruptured abcess which required surgery. I had to drug and trap him. He has now lived in a 3 story cat apartment for 2 1/2 years in my home. He is named Mongo and is a window where he can look out over the town or turn around and watch tv in my room. He is still healing almost 5 years later. In the time he has been inside with me we have developed a sort of relationship. He communicates with me verbally and by blinking. Is he wants something changed, he lets me know. He has learned to purr and gets out of the way while I clean his "room". I know he is classified as "non-healing" but he is healing only very slowly. He does not try to get out. I can leave his room open and he simply sits and watches me serve him. Is there more that I can do or is time and patience the only thing I need? He is a very good cat and I will not have him put down as long as he has a quality of life. This is unpopular with some but I do not care. Any advice?

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snow

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Mix

dog-age-icon

3 Months

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Puss
Shedding

hi there my cat fell into a bath of boiling hot water for about 30sec she ran around screaming f as i took her out i ran cold water over her feet and body now 2 days later she is shedding fur underneath her feet are swollen and red and black in colour and slightly pussy help please

dog-name-icon

Cat

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Short hair domestic

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Weepy Skin, Chewed Hairless Ears

About 2 months ago someone threw out of their car a young, male, orange cat, they abandoned him by throwing him on the street. At first his face and eyes looked like he had no fur on it and his eyes were shut. Now his hair has grown back but I'm unable to tell if he can see or not. His face, head and ears are only affected. His ears look like they've been chewed on. He also constantly scratches his ears. Also it looks like his face has thickness all over his face and head. I also see what looks like long, red, old cuts on same area. I want to get this precious cat treated but I'm very afraid to pick him up since I don't really know what's wrong with him. We have other unowned cats and they have not picked up what this cat has and that's why now I'm leaning towards something very hot poured on his face and head. I've tried looking at pictures of common cat skin problems and I've not been able to see a picture yet that looks like this cat's face. Please help me know what to do. I own an indoor cat only and am afraid to bring in this abandoned cat even in a closed box and separated from my cat. At the same time I really want to help this orange cat as he'd make a very good, loving friend after shots, treatment and being neutered. Since I'm not sure of what's wrong with him, i.e. contagious or burn or injury I'm very afraid to even touch him to bring him in somewhere. He cries and will come close to me, he's had some people interaction and I feed him, but what else should I do? Please help and answer my message, thank you!

Thermal Burns Average Cost

From 232 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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