Cat Fights and Cat Bites

Why do cats fight?

Cats fight with other cats to protect their territory, or to gain more territory. Bite wounds are common in cats; over 90% of infected wounds are from cat bites. These wounds are frequently infected and without treatment cats can become very ill. Bite wounds are more common in male cats, especially in un-neutered male cats (Tom cats).

My male cat is neutered. Why does he still fight?

Tom cats are very territorial and defend an area around their home and try to expand their territory, so that they are constantly fighting with other cats. Neutered male cats defend smaller areas, and females also defend their territory by. The frequency of fighting will depend on the number of cats in an area and the presence of Tom cats.

What can I do to stop my cat from being bitten?

Neutering may reduce territorial fighting, but will not completely stop it. Confining the cat indoors, particularly at night when fights are most common, may help reduce the number of bites and fights.

What happens after a cat has been bitten?

When a cat bites, the canine teeth cause small deep flesh wounds. These rapidly seal over, trapping bacteria from the cat’s mouth under the skin. This may go unnoticed for several days as an abscess forms and the affected cat is often fevered and in pain. On the lower legs or tail infection spreads through the tissues causing cellulitis.

What should I do if I know my cat has just been bitten?

If you know that your cat has been in a fight, contact City Vet immediately. Treatment within 24 hours will often stop the spread of infection and may prevent abscess formation. If several days have elapsed since the fight, an abscess will usually form, requiring more involved medical treatment.

How will I know that my cat has a fight wound if I can’t find any bite marks?

Bites most commonly occur on the head, legs or the base of the tail. Leg bites are usually painful and the cat may limp. Puncture wounds heal very quickly so may not be seen or felt shortly after a bite. Heat and or swelling may be found around the bite. Some cats may be lethargic and fevered, and may lick the injured area.

What should I do if my cat gets an abscess or infected bite wound?

Bring your cat to City Vet immediately. An abscess may need to be treated under sedation or general anaesthetic as these are very painful. Surgery may be needed to remove damaged or infected tissue. Pain relief and antibiotics will probably be necessary; all medication must be given as directed.

How long will it take for the bite wound to heal?

Most abscesses will heal within 5 – 7 days of treatment. Swelling associated with cellulitis may take longer. If a wound is not healing as expected re-examination at City Vet is required. If your cat is not treated, the abscess will rupture and may partially drain before healing. Small pockets of infection may remain and can develop into an abscess again. This may also arise if medication is not given as directed or drainage is inadequate.

Why does my cat keep getting abscesses in the same place?

This may be because of inadequate treatment where the abscess never completely heals. It may be because of the way your cat fights; a cat that runs away tend  to be bitten on the tail base, whereas the aggressive attacking cat tends to be bitten on the head or forelimbs.

Are there any other problems associated with fight wound infections?

Bite wounds are the main route of transmission of some very serious feline diseases, including, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) which can lead to further serious disease in your cat.