Home Cat Tips What Causes Abscess In Cats | Tips And Guidelines

What Causes Abscess In Cats | Tips And Guidelines


In this post we are going to look at what causes abscess in cats. There are a number of reasons why cats develop an abscess. It’s important to know what to look to help keep your cat healthy and happy. You will discover what causes abscess in cats, signs to look out for and treatment options.

What is an Abscess?

An abscess is a small or large pocket of pus that can be found on a cats body. Pus is a liquid that is full of white blood cells, bacteria, and other things. They can either be compressible like a water balloon or hard and are painful when touched.

The reason they form is due to the bodies response to an infection. Abscesses can rupture which causes pus to pour out. It’s also very common for a cat who has an abscess to have a fever.

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Signs And Symptoms of Abscesses in Cats

It’s important to know what to look out for so here’s some of the signs of an abscess in cats. It can take around 2-4 days for an abscess to fully develop. Before it does, you may still notice the following symptoms:

  • Not eating or eating less than usual.
  • Low energy (lethargy).
  • Fever – they may feel hot to touch (especially their ears and paws).

Here’s a full list an abscess in cats:

  • Localized swelling
  • Oozing from a swelling
  • Foul smell
  • Bad breath
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Redness around the site
  • Loss of hair at the abscess location
  • Pus or blood on the skin
  • Excessive itching
  • Heat
  • Wounds (bite marks, or a large wound if the abscess has burst)
  • A floppy tail – common if the tail base has been bitten
  • Limping – ranging from mild to severe
  • Pain – (being quiet, aggressive, repeatedly licking one area, growling, twitching or not letting you near them)

What Causes Abscesses In Cats?

Now you know what signs to look out for, let’s now take a look at what actually causes an abscess in the first place. Abscesses are caused by bacteria such as E. coli, certain Streptococcus species, Pseudomonas, Mycoplasma, Pasteurella multocida, Corynebacterium, Actinomyces, Nocardia, Bartonella, Bacteroides, Clostridium, and Fusobacterium.

Dental abscesses:

One of the most common place for an abscess is inside the mouth on the gums around diseased teeth. The gums become inflamed due to a build up of bacteria on the tooth which can lead to gingivitis. Plaque and calculus is formed if the bacteria is not correctly removed by brushing or dental cleaning because it gathers food debris and saliva.

A continuous build up of the above process can cause an abscess under the gumline. A tooth root abscess can also form if the bacteria gets into the root canal or a broken tooth. As you can imagine, dental abscesses are difficult to spot because it’s very rare you ever see the inside of your cats mouth. It’s worth doing the occasional check.

Bite wound abscesses:

This is caused as the result of a bite from another animal and is common in outdoor cats. An abscess begins to form due to bacteria entering the wound. Bite wound abscesses appear as lumps under the skin and may feel hot when touched. Until they rupture and start to ooze pus, bite wound abscesses usually go unnoticed by the cat owner.

Internal abscesses:

There are no visible signs of an internal abscess due to them forming on the internal organs. These kind of abscesses are caused from disease, inflammation, and foreign objects. They are less common then dental abscesses and bite wound abscesses, but they still happen and it’s something to be aware of.

How are abscesses treated?

Treatment of an abscess depends on how severe the infection is and on what location. Antibiotics are used regardless of where the abscess is and the type of antibiotic is chosen based on what type of bacteria is causing the issue. It’s important for them to take the full length of the antibiotic cause to ensure the issue is fully eliminated.

Your cat may also be in a lot of pain so it is important that adequate pain relief is used until the abscess has gone. Your veterinarian will provide all of this for you. They may also advice you on your cats diet to ensure correct healing. If your cats abscess was removed with surgery then it’s also important to limit their activity to prevent further pain and injury.

Dental abscesses treatment:

Your cats mouth will usually be examined by a veterinarian with the use of  X-rays and anesthesia. The teeth are also examined using dental probes.

Bite wound abscesses treatment:

A veterinarian will usually exam the wound and use a needle with a syringe to see if there is an abscess inside. If an abscess is discovered then they will be treated by draining the puss.

Internal abscesses treatment:

Ultrasound is generally used by a veterinarian to diagnose an internal abscess. Surgery is needed to fully remove the abscess.

How to Prevent Cat Abscesses

Abscesses are one of those things and sometimes can’t be helped, especially if it’s a bite or internal abscess. It’s good practice to prevent dental disease as much as possible. The key to prevent an abscess from forming is with regular dental care. Just like humans, some cats will have more issues than others.

Here are some of our recommended cat dental products:

Greenies Feline Natural Dental Care Cat Treats


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Oxyfresh Premium Pet Dental Kit for Cats

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Petstages Fresh Breath Mint Stick

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Hope you enjoyed this post on what causes abscess in cats. You should now know all of the signs and symptoms of an abscess and taking more action to look after your cats dental health.

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