Injuries to Cats, Kittens

wounds and injuries cats kittens
Accidents happen to cats and kittens, with injuries resulting from fights, cars, fire, owner mistakes or accidents at home. Medical recovery or rehabilitation of your cat's injuries is just as involved as recovery for a person. See below for advice to help with your cats and kittens.

Cat Wounds From Fight

Dear Simba, My cat is an outdoor cat and today I noticed a little blood on her throat,
I tried to get a better look at it but she would not let me. Later she was meowing really strangely ... I am concerned.

The last time she got a bad scratch I took her to the vet. She had an infection and had surgery. It cost $400. I am still paying my parents back. I cannot afford it again. I am really scared for her. She was a stray cat that I fell in love with and I would not be able to bear seeing anything happen to her. Lily

Dear Lily,
Poor gal. I hope she gets better. As you probably know from reading other letters, the best way to keep a cat healthy is to keep them indoors.
If you keep your cat indoors out of concern for furniture damage or litter box problems please see Claws and Litter Training sections.

If you are unable to go to the vet or animal hospital your best bet is to keep kitty in a confined space, warm and safe. Feed her well and try to clean the wound with a light cloth and warm water (assuming it is not a deep one). Also, infections do not necessarily mean surgery. Your vet will be best able to determine if she needs antibiotics ointment or anything else.

Also, consider getting a Cat First Aid bookso that you can be better prepared for the next time this happens. It is unfortunate, but with her being an outside cat something like this will probably happen again. Keep me posted. Simba

My cat tore her nail off in a fight 4 days ago. Yesterday she started limping a little. She does regularly clean the paw and is eating fine etc. I am worrying about the claw getting infection. Does this injury merit a vet visit? (She is primarily an indoor cat. She goes outdoors about once a day to go to the bathroom and run around).Mike

Dear Mike,
Nail injuries usually do not require a vet visit. The thing to watch out for, as you rightly noted, is the possibility of infection. It might be worthwhile to rinse the wounded area with a partly diluted oxygenated water solution. Be sure that you rinse it off so that kitty does not ingest it.

A sign of an infection is when the affected area does not heal. Watch out for swelling, heat in the foot, bleeding, pus and lethargy as these are all sometimes associated of infection. Keep me posted. Simba

My cat Pheobe got into a fight with a male cat. The male cat clawed her eye and it does not seem to be healing very well. Her eye looks like it is possibly a different color now and there is some clouding on it. Pheobe can still see out of her eye though. Do you have any advice? Andrea

Dear Andrea,
Slow healing wounds are never a good thing since they are symptomatic of secondary infection which can lead to all sorts of serious problems. I recommend that you visit a vet or animal hospital as soon as you are able to ensure Pheobe's long term health. Your Pal, Simba

Kitten With Whisker Damage

Dear Simba,
We rescued an 11-week-old kitten who had a "rough start" but he now is doing well now...However, due to his earlier problems his whiskers broke off. It looks like they are beginning to grow back. But we would like to know:

1) How long it will take for them to grow back fully?
2) Is there is something we should do?

- New Kids on the Block

Dear New Kids on the Block,
Best thing to do is sit tight and continue providing him a loving home. It seems you are there already. His whiskers will grow back within a few weeks. Cats use their whiskers to navigate around so do not make changes around them, lest kitty becomes confused. Also, while I always recommend that cats stay indoors, it is especially important that your cat stay inside until his whiskers grow back. He will be at a serious disadvantage without them. Simba

Hello Simba,
My kitty was curious and wanted to know what I was cooking. He stuck his poor little face right into the flame of the stove. Nothing was hurt but his whiskers (his eyes are fine). His poor whiskers are gone! A friend had the same thing happen to her cat and told me I should trim the burnt edges so they would grow back quicker. Do you think that this is a good idea? Thanks a lot. Desiree and Runt

Dear Desiree and Runt,
Poor little fella! I hope that this discourages him from snooping around the stove! My concern with cutting his whiskers is in the cutting itself. Runt will not appreciate having his whiskers cut, cats are very sensitive in their whiskers. He will naturally shake and try to escape, that coupled with the presence of sharp objects near his face worries me.

The burnt ends will fall off on their own and new will grow back in. Give Runt some time. However, if you must cut, do it very carefully and have someone hold Runt while you gently trim the outer edges only. Simba

PS: If Runt is an outdoor cat, please keep him indoors until he is recovered. Cats use their whiskers for navigation and for sensing danger/prey. He is at a disadvantage until he is better. Simba

Cat Owner Cuts Whiskers

Hi, I was trimming my cats fur and mistakenly cut the whiskers on one side. I read that the whiskers will grow back if they fall out, but will they grow back if they are cut? If yes, how long should it take? If not, what should I do? Shelly

Dear Shelly,
Your cat's whiskers will grow back within a few weeks. In the meantime, do not let him outdoors since he is at a severe disadvantage without the use of the navigation/radar function that his whiskers provide. Your Pal, Simba

Car Accident

Dear Simba,
This morning we nearly ran over a scared little kitten. We stopped in the middle of the road and I pried him out from under the car. He was sooo cute, but skinny. His sparse fur is black, orange and white. I want to keep him!

We have 3 cats plus the occasional strays and 2 dogs. When the little one arrived today we wanted to keep him in the front room before we gradually introduced him to the others. However, we did not notice him slipping out of the room and going to the neighbors. They have a really mean dog. Next thing we knew, the dog's owner was fishing him out of the dog's mouth. It was terrible!!

The little one was alive but his back legs appeared to be paralyzed. He cannot stand up and drags his hind legs. He does not look like he is in pain and he purrs and closes his eyes when I stroke him. He is resting in a box after we gave him milk for dinner. Is there anything I can do? Tintin

Dear Tintin,
Poor little guy! He has certainly had a rough day today. About his wounds, I recommend that you take him to your local animal hospital or vet to have him checked out. While purring is a sign of contentment, it can also be a sign of pain. Many folks that have accidentally hit a cat have found them to be purring after the accident. The reason is that purring produces endorphins and comforts the wounded creature. Let me know how he progresses. Your Pal, Simba

Dear Simba, I have a 6-month-old kitten, Snuggles. A couple of days ago she did not want to eat much and would not play at all. She just wanted to lay around and sleep. She is now eating again but still will not play. She acts as if it hurts to jump up onto things that are high up. I have noticed that she seems to feel better every day, but is not back to her normal self. She is an inside cat and has had all her shots. Any idea what might be causing this? Should I take her to the vet?

I tend to think that it is always best to err on the side of caution, especially when you are dealing with little kittens. Kittens are incredibly active and energetic. Thus any episode that causes a change from that is of concern.

Some of what you described fits right in with signs of pain: the depression, the lethargy and the wanting to be alone. I recommend that you take Snuggles to the vet and have her checked out. Unfortunately, she cannot tell you what hurts, but you can take steps to helpher. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba:
My 14-month-old kitten has started to limp. There is no swelling or blood. He has not been stepped on or caught his foot in something. He will let me touch his foot but I cannot find anything wrong. He cannot even jump onto our couch. What could this be? Should I take him to the vet? Is it OK to put ice or heat on it?

A trip to the vet may be worthwhile. The unexplained limping may be due to some heart or spinal cord problems or may be a symptom of other underlying health issues. Your vet should do a test for common viruses and infections and give you a good treatment plan. Ice and heat are usually reserved for swelling associated with local injuries. It does not appear that is the case here. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba,
I recently rescued a 3-month-old kitten and rushed him to the Vet, as he was limping badly. Weeble not only has a dislocated/broken back leg (which is fixable), but another injury to his upper spine is preventing him from the full use of his front paws. He can barely move. They gave me cortisone pills for him to take for a few days to reduce swelling which may be putting pressure on his spinal cord. His last pill is tonight and his condition has not really changed. They said surgery is possible but highly expensive and risky.

I am already very attached to him and I want him to live! I do not think he is in terrible pain right now, he does not show it. Is there anyone who might be able to assess his situation? I could mail/fax a copy of the x-rays. I cannot afford too many second opinions! Please Help!! Love Marca & Weeble

Hi Marca & Weeble,
I have a couple of ideas. One, try contacting your local ASPCA or Humane Society to find out about low-cost or free vet consultations. Two, you may also want to consider an online vet like the kind they have at JustAnswer or check out Emergency Resources for sites that can help you locate a vet near you.

An update on Weeble:
I brought him to the Animal Medical Center in NYC (it is a giant animal hospital teeming with specialists) to the neurologist. After examining Weebles, it looks like it is an infection that is wearing away his bones. Weeble is now on antibiotics. I find out on Wednesday what kind of infection he has and if and when we can get him walking. Thanks for your advice. BTW, my local vet said they had given him treatment for Fleas on Cats & Kittens, but I am covered with bites. (no other animals in house except the gecko). How can we both rid ourselves of them? Thanks...Marca

Marca, Glad to hear that Weeble is getting the care he needs. Check out the Fleas page for information on those nasty critters and how to get rid of them. - Simba

Cat Accident At Home

Dear Simba,
My 3-month-old Siamese jumped off her cat post the other day and was having trouble walking. She kept holding her paw up. By the end of the day she was doing better, except when she would run. The next day she jumped off the sofa and she is limping again. It is not swollen nor are there any bones or blood. Could she have a fracture or a sprain? If so, what does she need? Caring for a Stunt Kitty

Dear Caring for a Stunt Kitty,
It is possible that your kitten has a sprain. As you may know, a sprain is a slight tear in the ligaments/muscles. This was likely aggravated by her second jump. Your best bet is to go to your vet to have her checked out. While it could be a simple sprain, the injury could also be the result of some hip or bone problems. Your vet will likely bandage her up. Be sure that he does not wrap the bandages so tight such that it affects circulation (a tight bandage can lead to poor circulation, which can lead to gangrene). In the meantime you may want to restrict her movements in the house so that she does not jump off anything else. Simba

Cat Rescues by Readers

Dear Simba,
I wanted to let you know that there are many caring people in this world. On March 27th I ran over a cat that had been lying in the middle of the road. There had been another car coming from the other direction so I straddled with my tires and hear a "thump" thinking I had hit a chunk of ice in the road. I then checked my side view mirror. It was then that I realized I had hit a cat! I was sick!

I do not know what it was (divine inspiration) but I turned around. As I pulled the cat from the ground she lifted her head, and with these large wholesome eyes, gave me the most precious yet sad look I had ever seen! I ran down the road, stopping traffic all the way, put her in my car and took her home. My daughter was home as she was ill. I put the cat in a laundry basket and called our vet.

I thought this creature would die, the vet did not open for a couple of hours. I went to work and I put my daughter in charge of the cat. My daughter then called me to tell me to bring the cat to the vet after they opened. I left work, went home, picked up my daughter and the poor cat. The vet asked me if she should just put her to sleep as the cat was so weak and had no strength to continue and had laid down on the road to die! I said "NO, save her, I will pay!"

The cat survived and had four kittens, though only one survived. He is now 12 days old! Both mom and kitten are thriving! I found a good home for the kitten for when he is ready to leave home, but I am not sure about the mom. She is so, so loving and so, so sweet, I do not want to give her up! I already have 5 cats all but 2 were strays that found us. If I could know they would accept her, I would gladly keep her. Do you think there is hope of this? Rosa B

Dear Rosa B,
How very touching!! Yes keep her, love her and make her part of your home. Check out the Helping New Cats Adjust section of Simba's Letters for tips to introduce her to your resident cats. All the best. Simba

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