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Swollen leg after cat bite / scratch

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi all.

Oscar, my nearly seven month old, has a nasty swollen leg, caused by a cat bite or scratch. I took him to the vet yesterday and they gave him an antibiotic shot and said to bring him back on Monday if it's still swollen. Which it looks like it will be...

Now, my question is, would putting a hot compress on there help his swollen leg if it's a general infection and not an abscess (which it doesn't appear to be)? Because I feel I'd like to do something for him if I can. Has anyone had experience with terating this sort of thing before?
post #2 of 14
I don't have any suggestions but I am sending lot of healing vibes to your sweetie. :
Hopefully someone will have some ideas for you soon.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you xocats,

He's still prettty lively and active and not off his food or anything, so I'm not that worried, but you hate to see them in pain... Poor fellow is due to be neuterd next Friday too, the vet said it would be OK even if his leg is infected, as it's only local... Boy will he hate the vet by the end of this!
post #4 of 14
I don't think the hot packs will hurt - it will just increase the blood flow to the area and maybe help it heal faster.
If there isn't dramatic improvement by next Friday, I would probably back up surgery for a week or so. I tend to be very conservative about these things, especially as it isnt critical for neutering to be done next week.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks Mom of 4.

I tried the heat packs already and he did get a little... erm annoyed. He's a good boy though and only growls and doesn't actually try to scratch.

It's his sister I'm really worried about in the spaying / neutering front. They were booked in three weeks ago and both got sick that week, so I had to cancel. I wanted to have them both go in together as I've read that sometimes they don't like each other due to smelling different afterwards, but it looks like Lily may be going it alone...
post #6 of 14
Afterwards they'll just need time to adjust! It will take Lilly longer to heal anyway! Boys dont have to go through the same crud that girls do!
post #7 of 14
Is there a bite to the leg? -it may be scabbed over and hard to find. Does the leg feel unusually warm or does he complain if you poke/lightly squeeze it? And why didn't the vet check it over better for a wound...bites are very nasty.

If you can find the wound you might try soaking the leg in a bowl of warm water and epsom salt. You'll have to sit on the floor with your cat and hold his leg in it(you may need to wrap him in a towel if he's too fussy). This should help draw out some infection and puss out of the wound once it opens up. Do this at least twice a day till he gets back into the vet. -Also, do not use peroxide on puncture wounds.
If you have a antibiotic ointment without pain reliever in it, that can be put over the wound. Try to distract the cat for a bit with some food so he won't lick it off immediately.

Keep giving the antibiotics -they may take a few days to really work, keep the cat inside (if he's an indoor/outdoor cat), and call the vet Monday to see if they want you to bring him back in.

Unfortunately I have too much experience with infected bites to legs. Growing up my father would never allow our cats to be taken to the vet for such wounds.
Luckily wound care and making sure the cats were kept inside and the wound was kept clean saved them.

Edit: I re-read that, the vet didn't send home a liquid or pill antibiotics? You should have been given some, as this will help the leg heal faster. Definately call Monday.
post #8 of 14
when Bea got bit the vet suggested a hot compress while we were waiting to see if the antibiotics would work, so I imagine it can't hurt anything.

Bea's turned out to be an abcess... I hope your baby fares a little better
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
There is definitely a bite there and the vet knows it, but he wants to give him the next shot himself to monitor his progress. I know from the last illness that they give the antibiotic shots a couple of days apart, which is what Friday to Monday is, as they're not open Sunday. He did say bring him back in on Monday unless he's totally better, which he definitely isn't going to be. Very awkward for me as I work 12 hour nights and it means no sleep, but Oscar comes first.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm pleased to report that Oscar's leg was an abscess which has now burst; which at least means that all that nasty stuff is coming out and not poisoning him (evidently the heat was a good idea!). I'm cleaning it with salted water and keeping a close eye on him (or getting the brother to as I'm off to work in an hour). We'll be going back to the vet tomorrow, so we'll see about after-care then. He's eating well, although he doesn't feel much like playing, so fingers crossed he'll be OK!
post #11 of 14
The best thing for rinsing an open abcess or puncture wound is betadine. Dilute it with some warm water (exact amount unimportant but around the color of weak tea) and squirt it onto the wound with a syringe. Salt is a rather mild antiseptic and better for soaking wounds than rinsing them. Betadine also doesn't sting like salt or iodine so the animals are more likely to tolerate it. Rinse 1-2times daily. Increase if the infection is not going away and decrease if the skin around the wound is getting dry. There's actually a study somewhere online that measured the growth of various cells and examined their healing rate and structure when different antiseptics like salt, betadine, iodine, rubbing alcohol, and peroxide were added. Betadine had the best healing rate for the least amount of scar tissue or damaged cells. Salt was the mildest killing the least bacteria but doing the least damage with the smallest amount of scar tissue generated. Peroxide was the worst doing alot of damage to healing cells and causing large amounts of scar tissue to form.

Very important. Do not let an abcess or puncture wound heal from the outside in. Even if you have to pull the skin back apart keep the wound open until all the infection is gone and it heals from the inside out. When you no longer have a hole but just a split in the skin then let it heal shut. Otherwise the skin on the outside closes off and makes a very nice place for anerobic bacteria to multiply where you can't reach it. You'll just end up reopening the abcess to drain it again if you don't keep open until the infection is gone and the tissue under the skin is healed.

As for the heat packs in the future if you have a localized wound where only a lump or certain area is swelling then it can be useful to apply heat. It will draw the infection to a smaller area where you can open it or wait for it to open and start rinsing. If the entire leg is swollen or you cannot find a specific spot with an injury or increased swelling compared to the rest then heat is not only useless but in some cases may be harmful. If the whole limb is already hot and swollen adding heat will only make things worse not better.
post #12 of 14
Originally Posted by Sham View Post
Very important. Do not let an abcess or puncture wound heal from the outside in. Even if you have to pull the skin back apart keep the wound open until all the infection is gone and it heals from the inside out.
This is why soaking helps, it will soften the scab and reopen the wound for draining. And it's less painful (or upsetting to the owner) then pulling/cutting the wound open.
post #13 of 14
Soaking is useful if you let a wound start to close or to open up a newly discovered wound but if you rinse at least once daily you can just shove the skin aside a little and it will almost always stay open until the next day. Then soaking becomes rather pointless and requires keeping the animal still for longer while in some type of container that holds water. Alot more difficult than rinsing in many cases. You shouldn't have to ever cut a wound back open unless you neglected it for several days.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks all! It looks horrible as it's open now, but he's much happier already. I've figured out a soaking methode involving sticking the whole leg into a pasta sauce jar - which he's not crazy about but will tolerate. Salt was all I had available as it was Sunday, but I'll ask the vet for something better later.

I have no intention of letting the poor guy be prodded more than he has to, so I'm making sure the wound doesn't close up!
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