When caring for an open wound, your first step should be to stop the bleeding.2 Locate the wound and apply pressure using gauze or some other clean, absorbent material. Cover this with a bandage or clean cloth to shield the wound from infection while you take your cat to the vet.
You may also want to elevate the wound above your cat’s heart during transportation. Gravity will help reduce the amount of blood flowing to the area and should mitigate some of the bleeding.
Your vet will assess the severity of the wound. Minor abrasions and lacerations may need little more than to be cleaned and allowed to heal on their own. However, more severe open wounds may need to be surgically closed.
It’s important not to apply any disinfectants or topical ointments to the wound unless your vet instructs you to do so. Ointments can interfere with the healing process and may inadvertently cause tissue damage or infection.2 This goes for wound aftercare as well. Don’t use any topical treatments unless specifically instructed by your vet.
Next to bleeding, infection is the biggest danger posed by open wounds. You should always assess the wound for signs of infection, both before and after veterinary treatment. Indicators of an infected cat wound include:2
- Abscess formation
- Noticeable changes in your cat’s behavior
- Signs of discomfort or pain
- Pus discharge
The longer a wound remains open before treatment, the more likely an infection will occur. Should this happen, your vet may decide to leave the wound open rather than stitching it shut. This, along with the use of antibiotics, can actually help combat infection. It will also allow fluid discharge to cleanly drain from the wound, rather than build up beneath the skin.2
Your cat will go through three general stages of recovery: inflammatory, proliferative, and remodeling.3
These are natural processes enacted by the body and are helped along by veterinary treatment. The inflammatory stage helps reduce bleeding while also flushing out damaged cells and foreign debris. The proliferative stage sees your cat’s body begin the work of repairing the wound over a period of time. Finally, the remodeling stage induces scarring to reinforce the wounded area and may take up to 2 years to complete.
Depending on the nature and severity of the wound, your vet may assist the healing process via stitching or other forms of surgical closure. Once your cat is free to go home, it’ll be up to you to ensure the healing continues by following your vet’s aftercare instructions. This may include:2
- Cleaning the wound up to three times per day (using only warm water or a diluted antiseptic solution)
- Daily bandage changes
- Antibiotics to combat and/or prevent further infection
Keep an eye on your cat for any changes in their behavior, or changes to the wound, that could indicate infection. If you suspect the cat wound is not healing, take your cat back to the vet for a closer look and professional advice.
Dealing with your kitty’s injury can be scary. The last thing any pet parent wants to think about at stressful times is money, but the cost of treatment can run into the thousands, depending on the severity of the wound. Fortunately, a cat insurance policy could reimburse you for up to 90% of the covered expenses involved.4
MetLife Pet member Dwight was a young Siberian kitten when his parents took out an insurance policy. They did so just in time. Not long after, Dwight had to be hospitalized for a bite wound caused by another animal. The bill for his treatment and recovery came in at over $13,000 — but Dwight’s insurance plan reimbursed his parents for $10,000. This left them with a much more affordable bill to deal with, and far less stress, while they focused on Dwight’s recovery.5
With pet insurance from MetLife Pet, your cat could get the care they need no matter the price. Read more about our coverage to find out if pet insurance really is worth it, or get started on a free quote now.