My cat has been in a cat fight, what should I do?

Cat fightsCat fights are common in cats that are allowed to go outside.  The vast majority of septic (infected) wounds in cats result from cat bites sustained during a cat fight.

Dog, rat and other rodent bites can occur but they are much less common.

Why do cats fight?

Cats are very territorial. They fight with other cats to protect their territory or to acquire more territory. As a result fight wounds are common in cats. Fight wounds frequently result in infection that can make cats quite ill, particularly if they are left untreated. Fight wounds are more common in male cats than females and most frequent in entire (unneutered) male cats.

What can I do to stop my cat getting in a fight?

Neutering will reduce the risk and intensity of cat fights occurring. In addition, most cat fights occur at night so keeping your cat in overnight can also help reduce the risk.

What should I do if my cat has been bitten?

Bite wounds (especially small puncture wounds) are highly likely to become infected.  Bacteria from within the cat’s mouth contaminate the wound.  Over a few days the bacteria multiply in number and may result in an abscess forming, cellulitis (infection within the tissues), septic arthritis (infection in a joint), osteomyelitis (infection of bone) or pyothorax (infection within the chest cavity). If your cat has been bitten:

  • Keep them calm and warm in a blanket, keeping the nose and mouth exposed.
  • Be careful handling your cat as they may be very painful.
  • Bathe any wounds with dilute salt water (1teaspoon of salt in a pint of cooled boiled water), try to bathe the wound twice per day for a couple of days to help reduce the likelihood of infection.  
  • It can be difficult to spot small puncture wounds, so keep a close eye on your cat and if you see any signs of infection developing such as heat, swelling, pain, lethargy or pyrexia (fever) then contact your vet.

Dog bites

If your cat is unlucky enough to be bitten by a dog, contact your vet as soon as possible to get them checked over.  Dog bites can cause serious internal injuries due to crushing by the dog’s powerful jaws, as well as risks of bleeding and infection.

Please note:
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health - even if they are closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. Find out more about what to do in an out of hours emergency.