Abscesses are a common problem in cats. A bite from a cat is more likely to become infected than a bite from other animals due to the nasty bacteria that live in cats mouths. The situation is made worse because cat bite wounds tend to have small entry wounds but cause a lot of damage subcutaneously (under the skin) which has the potential to become infected even after small skin wound is already healed.

Most abscesses start out as cellulitis (which is infection in the tissues under the skin). If this is detected early it may be possible to prevent abscess formation by using appropriate antibiotics prescribed by your vet. Early signs to look out for include lameness/lethargy/not eating or localised pain. If you see any of these it is advisable to visit your vet.

Following cellulitis an abscess forms. An abscess is a capsule containing bacteria and white blood cells (commonly referred to as pus). If the abscess is large it can cause skin over the abscess to die off as well.
Treatment
Depending on the severity of the abscess will determine whether a general anesthetic is required.

Clipping and cleaning the abscess is the first step followed by removal of dead or dying skin.

One of the most important aspects of treatment is drainage to allow release of pus. If the abscess isn’t freely draining itself it is often necessary to place a drain whilst the animal is asleep. The drain will remain in for a few days and the animal is sent home on appropriate antibiotics.

Occasionally abscesses do not respond to conventional treatment and further diagnostics may be required.

Neutering males reduces roaming and fighting associated with seeking a mate and subsequently reduces the chances of abscesses occurring.