An abscess is a collection of pus that forms under the skin which can affect many animals. Cats commonly suffer from abscesses following a cat fight. A cat’s mouth and claws naturally contain a lot of bacteria that is easily transferred to wounds causing an infection. When the infection is left untreated, an inflammatory response is triggered, drawing a large amount of white blood cells to the area.

Pus begins to form, which is when the infection turns into an abscess. The affected area begins to grow, creating tension under the skin and further inflammation of the surrounding tissues. As the abscess grows, it eventually ruptures and the pus drains out. A cat abscess is a painful and potentially serious health issue that needs to be treated at a veterinary hospital.

Symptoms of Cat Abscesses

An abscess can form in any part of the body including under the skin, in the mouth and in organs such as the liver and pancreas. The most commonly affected areas are the head, neck, limbs, back and base of the tail. If left untreated, abscesses can lead to the development of serious and potentially fatal conditions like immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus.

Symptoms include:

  • Signs of pain, such as limping or pawing at the affected area
  • Fever, especially if it is located inside the body
  • Red, swollen or inflamed skin
  • Excessive itching
  • Pus or blood on the skin
  • Loss of hair at the site of the abscess
  • Swelling of the face and gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy

When an abscess ruptures, you may notice a thick, yellow and foul smelling discharge and a hole in the abscessed area. If the abscess is deep under the skin, you may notice an indentation when pressure is applied to the area of swelling. Cats can experience symptoms even after the abscess has ruptured and drained to the outside of the body.


The goal of treating an abscess located on the skin is to lance, clean and debride the area to promote healing. Depending on its size and scope, lancing the abscess may require your cat to be placed under general anesthesia in order to put a drain in place. This drain prevents the wound from closing back up, sealing the infection inside. In the case of dental abscesses, your vet will perform a root canal or extraction.

Your cat should heal within two weeks following treatment. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for at least three weeks to ensure the infection is completely wiped out. During this time, it’s important to watch your cat and ensure they don’t disturb or irritate the drainage site. There will be a follow up appointment at the veterinary hospital between two to five days following treatment to remove the drain.

Specialist Vet Services in Sydney

If your cat has an abscess, it’s important it receives adequate care at a veterinary hospital. For a range of veterinary services for your pet, speak to our specialist vets at Sydney Veterinary Emergency & Specialists today. Contact us for emergency veterinarian services and after hours care. Call us on (02) 9197 5800, or learn more about our services.