A multiple cat household is a lot like a house filled with children—one moment they will be content and hanging out together, and then the next moment one lashes out at the other. Unlike children, though, cats tend to fight with weapons. Their teeth and claws can inflict damage on each other. There claws and teeth also contain bacteria, which means that even a minor scratch can become infected. The following guide can help you assess and treat your pet's battle wounds.
Assess the Damage
Your first step is to assess the damage after your cat has been in a fight. Scratches from claws can usually be treated at home. Puncture wounds, from either teeth or claws, are more problematic. These wounds have a small opening that heals over relatively quickly. The problem is that the wounds tend to be deep, so the quick healing results in bacteria being trapped beneath the skin. This leads to a pocket of infection that can lead to painful swelling and fever if left untreated.
Treat Minor Scratches
The most difficult part about a minor scratch is avoiding scratches yourself. Secure your cat so they can't scratch back—some people wrap their cat in a towel, leaving just the scratch and head exposed, and then hold the cat in a football hold under one arm. Get a second person to help, if need be. Once you have your cat firmly held, carefully clean the wood with iodine or with an antiseptic soap that doesn't contain alcohol or peroxide (these aren't safe for use on cats). Cat wounds heal quickly, but you need to keep an eye on the site for a few days to make sure it doesn't become infected.
Call the Vet for Punctures
A puncture wound should not be treated at home without advice from a vet. Either call your vet or visit an animal hospital to have the wound examined. The vet will likely prescribe antibiotics to prevent an infection. They will also clean the wound as detailed above. Make sure that your cat takes the full course of antibiotics—if you have trouble giving your cat pills, there are liquid forms available that are easier to administer.
Monitor the Site
You will need to keep a close eye on the site, especially if the problem is a puncture. Gently feel the wound location several times a day, preferably during the course of normal petting so that your cat is relaxed. If it feels swollen, contact your vet immediately. You should also contact your vet if your cat becomes lethargic or refuses to eat, as these can be signs of an infection and fever.
For more information, check with a local vet or animal hospital like Stewartstown Vet Services.