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An abscess is a type of infection in a wound. In many ways it's like any other type of infection one might get and in it's early stages may be confused for a normal infection the immune system can effectively deal with.
However there is a potentially dangerous difference in that an abscess forms a barrier around the infection, which is then difficult for the body's immune system to break through and do it's job of fighting the infection. For this reason you should pay attention when your cat gets injured and look for the signs that an abscess is forming.
Most cat abscesses are caused when cats fight over territory, and receive a bite from another cat. A lot of the time these types of wounds will just heal over and disappear, but in some cases an abscess will form.
After the cat has received a bite it could take a few days for the abscess to get going. Once this is happening you may notice your cat goes off its food and becomes a bit lethargic; the area where the abscess forms will swell and feel warm.
Abscesses can be quite painful for the cat, and should you notice one it would be a wise move to take the cat straight to the vet, who will drain the abscess and prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection.
It may be that the first you are aware of the abscess is when it bursts, leaving an open wound and a pungent smell – which I know from personal experience can be very unpleasant.
Even once an abscess has burst, it is still a good idea to take the cat to the vet to get it cleaned up. An untreated abscess is likely to scab over and get re infected because cats the skin will heal much faster than the tissue below, causing the infection to be sealed in and the abscess to reappear.
Abscesses can be very serious, even life threatening as they can cause blood poisoning. This in turn can affect any of the major organs, so the sooner the abscess is treated the better.
What ever you do – Don't ignore an abscess on your cat!
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