Using NeosporinⓇ on Cats and Advice on Other Ointments

Four Minutes
Feb 06, 2024

Neosporin® is a go-to antibiotic ointment for many families. But is it safe for all of your family members? If your family includes a feline, you may have pondered this question: Can you put Neosporin on a cat? Let’s take a look at the safety of Neosporin on cats, as well as other common topical ointments.

What Is Neosporin?

Neosporin is a triple antibiotic ointment that combines three different antibiotics: bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin.1 These work together to prevent open wounds, such as cuts and scrapes, from becoming infected. It’s only meant to be used externally, so don’t apply Neosporin to any interior mouth or nose wounds.1

Is Neosporin Safe for Cats?

Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of Neosporin, does not recommend using it on cats.1 Although it contains useful antibiotics, Neosporin can give cats itchy skin or may trigger an allergic reaction.2 Cats also tend to lick their wounds, which could cause them to ingest Neosporin and suffer additional side effects, including:2

The Pet Poison Helpline lists additional symptoms to watch out for if you think your cat may have ingested Neosporin:3

  • Drooling
  • Low appetite
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Lesions on the skin
  • Tremors

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What Ointment Can I Put on a Cat Wound?

If Neosporin is out of the question, are there any other ointments that are safe to use on your cat? Let’s take a look at some of the most common over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

Can I put Vaseline on my cat?

Vaselineis a name-brand version of petroleum jelly. It contains mineral oils and wax, and it’s intended to prevent dry skin by creating a barrier of moisture. It has no antibacterial properties, so it shouldn’t be used on open wounds. However, it can be useful if your kitty is suffering from dry and cracked paws.4 Vaseline is non-toxic, but you should still keep an eye out to make sure they don’t ingest the jelly by licking it off their paws.4

Can you put bacitracin on a cat?

Bacitracin is one of the active ingredients of Neosporin. Vets may prescribe it in combination with other antimicrobial ointments for cats who have an eye infection, such as conjunctivitis.5 You should only use ointments containing bacitracin when they’re prescribed by your vet.

Can you put hydrocortisone on a cat?

Hydrocortisone is a type of corticosteroid that’s commonly used as an ingredient for its ability to relieve inflammation and itching.6 You can find it in low concentrations in OTC sprays and ointments, but it should only be used as prescribed by your vet. Potential side effects include:6

  • Skin redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Peeling

Can you put Polysporin on a cat?

Polysporin is a name-brand topical ointment developed by Johnson & Johnson. It’s a double antibiotic — as opposed to triple antibiotics, like Neosporin — containing polymyxin and bacitracin.7 Although it’s sometimes used in limited quantities on dogs, Polysporin can actually be deadly for cats.8 Potentially lethal side effects in cats can include:8

Neosporin Alternative for Cats

It’s clear that Neosporin isn’t a safe ointment for cats. So what kind of options do cat owners have?

When it comes to OTC medication, not much. As explored above, many of the topical medications we might turn to can be dangerous, if not deadly, for cats. If your feline companion has an open wound, your best bet is to bring them to a trusted vet. They should be able to treat the wound in their clinic and prescribe cat-safe medications to prevent infection.9

Pet Insurance Can Help Protect Your Cat

Neosporin might be a no-go when it comes to your cat, but there are other ways to keep them safe. A cat insurance policy could help cover the cost of care your cat needs in the event of an accidental injury. That means less worrying about your wallet and more time focusing on getting your kitty back into purring condition!

Check out our guide, “How Pet Insurance Works,” to learn more about the benefits of a policy from MetLife Pet. Then, get a free custom quote to see how much you could save on vet bills.

We Can Help You Protect Your Cat

Dr. Hunter Finn is an integrative veterinary expert first, and social media star second. America’s favorite veterinarian owns Pet Method in McKinney, Texas, where he cares for pets while prioritizing their emotional well-being. When he’s not at his clinic, he’s starring in viral videos on TikTok (2 million followers) and Instagram (500K followers) — where he’s been known to snuggle puppies and conquer the latest dance trends.

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 “What Is NEOSPORIN And What Is It Used For?” NEOSPORIN

2 “Cat Ate Neosporin,” Pet Poison Helpline

3 “Antibiotics Are Toxic To Pets,” Pet Poison Helpline

4 “Can I Put Vaseline on My Cat’s Paws? Our Vet Discusses Safety, Application & More,” Hepper, 2023

5 “Antimicrobial Use in Animals,” Merck Veterinary Manual, 2022

6 “Topical Hydrocortisone,” PetMD, 2022

7 “POLYSPORIN First Aid Antibiotic Ointment,” NEOSPORIN

8 “Polysporin Alert: It Can Be Deadly in Cats!” Vedder Mountain Veterinary Clinic, 2019

9 “Wound Care for Cats,” PetMD, 2022

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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