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Cat bite abscesses

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Abstract

Cat bite abscesses are a very common presenting problem in veterinary practice. They arise following a bite from another cat, when the canine teeth penetrate the skin and effectively inject bacteria from the saliva into the soft tissues below. This chapter considers clinical presentation, approach to treatment and prognosis.

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Figures

Image of 5.8.1
5.8.1 Target areas likely to be subjected to injury from cat bites. The head (a–c), antebrachium (f), tail base (d), axilla, and ventral abdomen (e) should be subjected to increased scrutiny during physical examination. (Reproduced with permission from Malik R, Norris J, White J and Jantulik B (2006) ‘Wound cat’. , 135–140.)
Image of 5.8.2
5.8.2 A wound on a cat’s hock, showing the typical appearance of a bite that has occurred within the last 24–48 hours. One or more small puncture wounds can usually be found to confirm the diagnosis. Early intervention at this stage will often prevent an abscess from developing. Treatment involves clipping and cleaning the site, short-term (24–48 hours) use of an NSAID such as meloxicam, and a 5–7-day course of broad-spectrum antibiotic such as amoxicillin. There should be marked improvement within 24–48 hours; if this is not achieved, further investigation and more aggressive treatment should be recommended. (© Martha Cannon)
Image of 5.8.3
5.8.3 A bite wound on a cat’s carpus: after 48–72 hours an accumulation of pus is developing. In this case the skin around the puncture sites is becoming necrotic and the pus is being released. In such cases there may be little to gain by incising the skin over the abscess, as drainage is already occurring. Treatment is as described for Figure 5.8.2 and the abscess should heal rapidly as long as the owner can bathe the site, massaging out any further small amounts of pus that may form. (© Martha Cannon)

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