HEALTH & CARE

How to Clean Cat Wound: Easing Your Cat’s Pain like a Pro

Close-up image of a cats head
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

What is your first reaction when kitty comes home all ruffled up with glaring blood marks on his coat? It’s easy to go into a total panic if you have no idea how to clean cat wound. But remember your cat instinctively looks up to you for help. They know you can fix everything and we are sure you want to keep things that way. This is quite a common occurrence with cats that are allowed to go outdoors, so make sure you know how to offer first aid car

Due to their explorative nature, injuries and wounds to outdoor cats are inevitable. If left unattended, the wounds are prone to infections. That’s why cat owners must intervene in the first instance to avoid such complications. While there are times you need to run to the vet, it is possible to handle some of your cat’s injuries by yourself. With a simple first aid kit and armed with some knowledge on how to stop the bleeding as well as how to disinfect and dress the wounds, you’ll be an adept cat first responder in no time at all.

Image of a cat with a neck cone

In this article, we equip you with information on how to offer your cat basic first aid by cleaning their wounds. We also demystify the various types of injuries your cat is prone to. Some wounds should be handled only by your vet, and we will explain about those as well. Equipped with this wealth of information, we can guarantee you a ‘happily ever after’ kind of life with your feline.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning a Cat’s Wounds

Cats are not like humans. They may not understand that you’re trying to help. Their instincts may even drive them to consider you a threat if you come up to them all panicky and frenzied in their weakened state. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is calm yourself. Once cool logic has once again taken the wheel away from firsthand panic, you’re ready to start helping your cat.

Understanding Cat Injuries

First things first, you need to determine how severe the injury is. There are plenty of ways through which your cat may get injured. Outdoor cats are especially more prone to injuries. These may be caused by catfights, rough fences, falling branches, unkind humans, or even your cat’s own overgrown nails.

Cat relaxing in the bed while her owner touche her

It is important to differentiate which injuries you can handle safely at home and the ones that must be attended to by your vet. There are two main types of injuries:

  • Minor Injuries: These will include small cuts, scratches, and abrasions. They will often bleed a little or not bleed at all. Some can even heal on their own without human intervention. All cat owners should be able to handle minor injuries in their felines.

  • Major Injuries: These may be deep cuts or puncture wounds from cat bites or other animals. If left untreated, major injuries pose a great threat to your feline as they easily get infected. They tend to form abscesses (trapped-in pus) and generate very painful wounds. They also cause your cat to be lethargic and often lead to high fevers.

You may need to cut away the fur around the injury to make a proper assessment. Use a pair of clippers for that. Getting rid of the fur also enables you to administer treatment more easily.

Cats often become reclusive and hide when they are not feeling well

Your first thought may be to take your cat to the vet immediately, but if the injury is not severe, treating them at home is actually a more viable choice. Your cat will feel more comfortable that way, and it won’t stress them out. But even for major injuries that you should leave to the vet, you may need to administer some first aid before you head out.

Furthermore, your kitty may get injured during odd hours when your vet has closed for the day. You, therefore, need to take matters into your own hands, literally. It behooves you as a cat owner or to act swiftly to ensure the injuries do not deteriorate.

Be Armed With a First Aid Kit

Wondering where to start in ensuring your cat’s mishaps do not catch you by surprise? Stocking up on your cat’s first aid box would be a great place. Having one can save your precious kitty’s life before you can take them to a veterinarian.

Image showing a first aid kit

You can buy a fully stocked kit, or you can assemble one. Here is a list of essential items that your kit should have:

  • Sterile gauzes and bandages

  • Cotton swabs

  • Styptic pencil/powder

  • Antiseptic solutions and wipes

  • Clippers

  • Adhesive medical tape

  • Flashlight and batteries

  • Thermometer

  • Sterile saline solution

  • Clean bottled water

  • Eyewash solution

  • Sterile latex gloves

  • Splints

  • Syringes

  • Towel

  • Blanket

  • Cold and heat packs

  • Antibiotic ointment

  • Muzzle

  • Scissors

  • Emergency veterinarian contact numbers and directions

Supplies for Cleaning Your Cat’s Wounds

You will not need everything available in the first aid kit to treat flesh wounds.

Close-up image of Betadine solution

Whether the injury is minor, so you want to treat it at home or the injury is severe, yet a vet’s assistance is not immediately available, here is a list of what you need to handle your cat’s injuries at home:

  • A towel

  • Clean water

  • Antiseptic solution

  • Adhesive tape

  • Latex gloves

  • Syringe

  • Clippers

  • Sterile gauze

  • Saline solution

You may have noticed that we didn’t include hydrogen peroxide in the list. For years cat owners have considered hydrogen peroxide as a holy grail when it comes to fighting bacteria in wounds. The fizzing sound it produces when it gets into contact with wounds has been misconstrued to mean that it vigorously kills bacteria.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Hydrogen peroxide is highly corrosive and damaging to the tissues. While it acts a disinfectant, it delays the healing process. It also causes a lot of pain to the cat.

Sterile Gauze Sponges on a table

You, therefore, want to avoid using hydrogen peroxide unless your vet recommends it. Your vet should give directions on how to dilute it before administering it on your cat’s wounds. You should also not use disinfectants that contain phenol for your cat’s wounds. Phenol is highly toxic to cats. Always read the ingredients in the antiseptics before use.

Steps to Handling your Cat’s Injuries

Now that you’ve got all the supplies ready, it’s time to get to work. The importance of first aid care when your cat presents with injuries cannot be overemphasized. Here is a step by step guide on how to skillfully attend to your cat’s wounds.

Step #1: Restrain Your Cat

You definitely mean well as you attempt to offer him first aid but your already distressed kitty may not want you to touch him. You may need to get an extra pair of hands to be able to hold him down. Wrap a towel around him and soothingly try to calm him down. You can even offer him his favorite treat.

Ablack cat sitting in a towel

You should attend to your cat’s injuries in the bathroom or any other enclosed area. He may want to flee. Also, remember to always wear a pair of protective gloves before handling your cat’s injuries.

Step #2: Stop the Bleeding

If kitty is bleeding, you need to intercept and stop the bleeding. Use a sterilized gauze or a piece of clean cloth and apply pressure to the wound. Do not press too hard, though. Apply just enough pressure to stop the bleeding. Hold down the gauze for a period of five to ten minutes then release it. Bleeding from minor injuries should stop.

A vet is prep surgery-scrubber

For deep cuts or wounds, you should also stop the bleeding before rushing to the vet. Bandage the area but do not tie the bandage too tight. You can also use sterilized gauzes and hold them down with adhesive tape.

Step #3: Clean the Wound

If the wound is mangled up in dirt or mud, first clean the area with plain clean water. With the dirt out of the way, the next step is to flush the wound with a disinfectant. For this process, you can either use a saline solution or an antiseptic.

  • Saline Solution. Your cat’s first aid kit should always have sterile saline. Saline is made of sodium chloride (salt) and water.

It’s an effective way of cleaning wounds since it mimics the salt concentration in your cat’s body tissues. It, therefore, cleans away the bacteria and debris without damaging the tissues. For effective washing, fill a syringe with the solution and spray it on the wound. While the saline acts as a mild disinfectant, it also literally cleans the dirt from the wound. You need to repeatedly spray the solution onto the wound until the area looks clean.

pink-rock-salt ona table

If you don’t have a saline solution, it is super easy to make one. Mix a cup of boiling water with 1/2 teaspoon of regular table salt or sea salt. Let it cool down before using it. Ensure you stick to these measurements to ensure you achieve the right saline concentration.

  • Antiseptic Solutions. You can safely use pet-friendly antiseptics to clean your cat’s injuries. The most recommended antiseptics are those that contain either Povidone-iodine or Chlorhexidine as key ingredients.

These need to be diluted with plain water. Mix 1ml of Povidone-iodine with 100ml of water. On the other hand, 2.5 ml of Chlorhexidine should be mixed with 100 ml of water. The solution should then be sprayed on the wound with a syringe to flush out and kill the bacteria.

Image showing antiseptic solutions on a table

You can also wipe the edges of puncture or deep wounds using saline or antiseptic solutions. Use sterile gauzes or a clean piece of cloth. Remember such wounds are to be left to the vet so only clean the edges as a part of first aid. Do not attempt to flush out the wound.

Step #4: Monitor the Wound

It is crucial to keep a close eye on your cat’s wounds. For faster healing, keep kitty indoors and out of harm’s way. Physically examine the wound each day. It should help if you’ve always ensured that your cat’s vaccines are up to date. This will keep him from easily contracting diseases and infections after an injury. If you notice swelling, redness, pus, or the presence of a foul smell, all is not well. It means the wound has been infected. In this case, you need to take your cat to the veterinarian.

Nursing Kitty at Home

Whether you treated your cat’s wounds at home or you took him to the vet, you will need to nurse his injuries. Most cat injuries will heal within a week or two. Here is what you can do to enhance the healing process:

#1: Ensure Kitty Doesn’t Lick His Wounds

Your cat will naturally want to lick his wounds. This can aggravate the wound and delay healing. You may need to restrain him using an Elizabethan collar.

cat- with a cone-collar

This is a plastic cone-shaped device that will keep kitty’s head confined. He, therefore, cannot access his wounds.

#2: Keep Your Cat Indoors

You must ensure your cat does not venture outdoors where he is bound to get into some mischief. If you have other pets, keep him away from them as well.

#3: Administer the Recommended Dosage

In case your vet prescribed some medication, ensure your cat gets it all at the recommended dosage and time.

#4: Dress the Wounds

If your cat was bandaged up, ensure that you keep the bandages clean and dry. Dress the wounds as directed by the vet.

Ginger cat at the vet control

You may need to take him back to the vet for this if he resists your attempts to dress him.

Wrap Up

Part of being a responsible cat parent involves being able to administer first aid and handle minor injuries in your kitty. The reason cat owners panic when they notice injuries on their felines is because they are unprepared for this inevitable task.

Ensuring you have a functional first aid kit is the first step in equipping yourself to handle a cat’s wounds. You should also be able to differentiate between minor and major injuries. When not sure, always seek your vet’s advice.

It is important to attend to wounds when they are fresh to avoid the risk of them getting infected. We have discussed in detail how you can safely clean the wounds. Even when you need to take your cat to the vet, you can still offer kitty some first aid, so this knowledge will definitely come in handy.

Close-up of a cat laying down

If you have an outdoor cat, regularly check his coat for injuries. Wounds that go untreated will get infected and cause great turmoil for both kitty and you. Regular inspection of outdoor cats will help arrest any injuries that may otherwise go unnoticed. As you cuddle with your cat, don’t just do it blindly, watch out for signs of blood, lost hair, swelling, and tenderness.

So next time your cat comes home with injuries, you don’t have to join in his pity party. You now know what to do! Have you administered first aid to your kitty before? Do you know how to clean your cat’s wounds to prevent infection? Please share your experience in the comments.

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.

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