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Pet Doc
Pet Doc, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 7922
Experience:  Veterinarian - BVSc (DVM equivalent).
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My cat has a huge bite abscess on his back which I found last

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My cat has a huge bite abscess on his back which I found last night when it was much smaller. I took him to the vets this morning and the (new to the surgery) young vet shaved the area, found it wasn't open, bathed it in hibiscrub and then he was given and antibiotic jab.............and a buster collar to stop him licking end of temp taken, no listening to heart or breathing and no full check over as she said "the antibiotics she was giving would get it". He is very listless and unhappy and the abscess has got bigger still during the day. Upon further examination (by me!!!) he seems to have another near that one too which she didn't even find! Not happy and less happy as the day has gone on. Cat has inflammatory bowel disease and is an old boy (14) and we work hard to keep his weight up. He won't eat unless I hand feed him tit bits and is very cross he can't go outside. If it wasn't Saturday night, I'd be on the phone demanding to see or speak to one of the vets in the practice who I know and trust. All online info seems to suggest the abscess should be drained. Is this always the case????
Hi there,

Thank you for your question regarding your 14 year old boy Cookie. My name isXXXXX and I am happy to be able to help you today. In answer to your question - typically, yes - abscesses are better off lanced and drained. Leaving them and treating them antibiotics can potentially work fine, but more often than not (in my experience) doing this leads to abscess rupture and a much longer recovery time. Further to that, abscesses are painful, and typically once the pressure is relieved by draining them, the pain is lessened.

I would definitely recommend getting Cookie back to your local clinic first thing in the morning to have this abscess lanced. It sounds like there may be two separate abscesses, or they could both potentially communicate. Either way, having each lump lanced, flushed and drained really will help here. If the abscesses are large, then your Vet may need to insert a penrose drain as well to facilitate drainage of the pus and material within the abscesses. It may be better to see a more senior Vet the second time around to follow up and help you here.

Try and keep Cookie as comfortable as you can in the meantime. If you can see any small scabs in the shaved area over his abscesses, then gently peeling these off may reveal a puncture hole through which the pus can escape. If you find this and pus does come out - do take a lot of care to clean Cookie up with luke warm water, and don't put too much pressure on his painful abscess.

I hope all of the above makes sense? Please let me know if you have any other questions. My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back. I am happy to address follow-up questions.

Kind Regards,

Dr Edwards

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Cookie takes half a prednisolone tablet daily to help with his inflammatory bowel disease and has weight checks 3 weekly to make sure he is not loosing weight again. I understand that steroids can hinder the healing process somewhat so I am even more concerned. Our surgery is not open on a Sunday so this would be a hugely expensive out of hours call to the covering company. Do you think it will wait until Monday given his age and history or should I get him to a surgery that is open tomorrow..............I have found information about one located within a pet store nearby. You can bet your life that I will be seeing one of the usual more experienced vets when I do take him back to our own surgery. I have no idea why I didn't question the lack of thorough examination at the time but I think I was more worried about my little lad being distressed.

Hi again Joanna,

It is hard to say whether this will clear up with antibiotics alone as it really depends on the size. If the abscesses appear really small, then it is possible. If they are larger and he seems to be in pain, then definitely get him seen at the local Vet attached to the pet store tomorrow to have this lanced and attended to. The main issue here is whether your boy is in pain - and it is likely the abscess is causing him some bother.

It also depends on the strength of the prednisolone tablet (half there of) you are giving him each day as to whether this would be enough to hinder the healing of this. In some ways it helps as an antiinflammatory for him. Continue with these tablets until directed otherwise by your Vet, or by the Vet tomorrow, as it will also depend on the severity of the abscess.

I think if you can get him seen to tomorrow by the local Vet next to the pet store (a companion care clinic I assume - which are generally very good), then please do.

Let me know how you get on.

Kind Regards,

Dr Edwards
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I would say it was really quite sizeable but haven't seen one before as I usually spot his fighting injuries before this happens. It's easily bigger that a 2pence piece and raised higher than the thickness of my thumb.....seems to be getting bigger. The other one, which was missed is smaller - 20p sized and not so raised but still a definite lump with a healed puncture wound in the middle. Would you call these big or small?


He is very upset and listless and like I say, won't eat. Hard to tell if the buster collar is contributing a lot though as he's never tolerated one before. Being a bit older and dopier now though, he can't get it off and has given up trying.

Hi Joanna,

These aren't large abscesses, however they would still be better off being lanced and drained. Larger abscesses than this would require a penrose drain to be stitched in as well, however I don't think that will be necessary here given what you have told me.

If there isnt' much for your boy to lick or irritate, then you could take his buster collar off so long as you can supervise him.

Do try and get him seen tomorrow if you can. If he becomes any more lethargic, then you may need to take him to your local ER Vet.

Kind Regards,

Dr E
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