How to Help Treat a Stray Cat's Wound
How to Help Injured Stray Cats
A stray cat may have seven lives, but because they tend to live on the wild side, it is not unusual for them to acquire injuries in their lifetime. A cat may have gotten into a fight, scratched its skin against barbwire, or worse—they may have gotten into a car accident. The protocol for tending to the wounds of a stray cat remains the same as that of a domestic cat, however, it requires an extra ounce of care.
Things to Consider Before Caring for a Stray Cat
1. Safety First
If the cat is feral, many times it is best to simply call animal control or your local shelter. They are equipped with special cages and other equipment to restrain the cat and then provide it with the care it needs. Some stray cats can be hard to capture and may display aggressive behaviors, especially when they are hurt.
2. Assess the Injury
If the cat appears to have a good disposition and is friendly, you will want to assess the cat's injury first. If the injury appears to be bleeding extensively, if the cat is unable to walk, if there are signs of infection such as pus or odor, or if there is a large gap suggesting the need for sutures, try to place the cat in a carrier and take it to the closest veterinarian.
3. Wear Gloves
It is best to wear heavy-duty gloves when interacting with a feral cat because the cat may not be used to human touch and, therefore, may not understand that you are there to help. Cat bites can be serious because of the bacteria in their saliva and their needle-point teeth, significantly upping the chances for infection. Also, you never know the history of a cat. Though not as common, some cats could carry rabies (a deadly virus that is transmittable to humans).
If you own other cats, do not to take this cat into your home. Stray cats may transmit serious diseases and viruses such as distemper, feline leukemia, coronavirus, and so forth. So, keep your cats safe and far from harm's way.
First Aid: How to Care for a Wounded Cat
- If the wound is bleeding, apply firm pressure with sterile gauze for a few minutes to halt the bleeding. (A little bit of blood may help the body flush the bacteria out.)
- Some of the fur around the wound may be trimmed to help prevent infection and make the area easier to clean. This also increases airflow and may make recovery easier.
- Flush the wound with clean water or sterile saline, and if possible, wash it with some antibacterial soap to help clean the area and remove any bacteria or debris. It is sometimes okay to rinse the wound with diluted hydrogen peroxide and water if nothing else is available; however, undiluted hydrogen peroxide is actually cytotoxic and can damage tissue.
- Finally, a thin layer of cat-safe antibacterial ointment may be applied to prevent infection.
Wounds do best if left uncovered, but this often means that cats may abide by their natural instinct of licking the wound. An Elizabethan collar may be fit around the cat's neck if they will tolerate it and you can monitor them safely indoors.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
My cat was bitten by a stray cat and now my cat is not eating anything. How can I help my cat regain her appetite in spite of this wound?
Most bite wounds become infected due to saliva rich with bacteria being trapped deep in the skin and therefore antibiotics may be required. An abscess can be serious. Please see your vet.Helpful 8
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli