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Dr Pete
Dr Pete, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 3009
Experience:  Bachelor of Veterinary Science (University of Melbourne, Australia)
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My Cat has a hole in his skin near his tail on his ...

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My Cat has a hole in his skin near his tail on his back, and yesterday is the first time I saw it. I didnt even know it was an actual hole. I though it was a bump or something, turns out his fur was clumped up there covering the hole up- but when i was feeling his fur, i must have mashed the spot lightly, and a whole lot of white/light beige puss looking stuff came out-that is when I separated the fur that was stuck together, and saw the hole. I have no idea where it is from, how long he has had it or what to do. I boiled it out with peroxide and put neosporin on it, but what else should I do?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr Pete replied 8 years ago.
This will be an abscess, almost certainly caused by a bite from anaother cat. Cat's tend to fight head to tail so bites over the base of the tail and lower back are quite common. The skin is loose there and the developing infection spreads sideways under the skin gradually separating it from the deeper tissues below. If the pressure builds up enough the abscess will rupture through the skin and the pus (the creamy material you described) escapes, sometimes matting in the fur first and forming a scab. The best thing that can happen is for the abscess to break to the surface because this limits the sideways spread of infection.
However once it ruptures and drains the opening can then heal over allowing residual infection to start to redevelop and the process starts again. For this reason it is important that the opening is kept open and the infective material encouraged to drain out. A vet will normally shave the hair to stop it matting over the opening. They will usually enlarge the opening and then flush the abscess out and then use a course of antibiotics. This may require a general anaesthetic. However if you feel it is draining well, there is no swelling away from the drain hole and your cat is fairly easy to manage you can try clipping some hair away and bathing the opening a couple of times a day witha salt solution (1 teaspoon salt per pint of lukewarm water). Don't use any chemicals because your cat may attempt to lick it off and scald his tongue. The neosporin ointment is of limited value because the infection is deep and under the surrounding skin.
See how you go but if there is any doubt that it is clearing see your vet before you end up with more trouble.
Regards, Peter
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Dr Pete's Post: Well I will try the salt water rinse, but should I try it with a syringe so that it can get under the skin? Also, what about the peroxide? It fizzed up a lot yesterday, but didnt this morning, so I assume some of the infection has passed out through the opening. He is pretty easy to manage, so I will clip off the hair around the wound and try to keep the wound open enough so that it can drain. About how long should I do this before I stop and let it start scabbing over?
Expert:  Dr Pete replied 8 years ago.
Hi again.
Sorry for the delay in replying but I am in Australia so it is just 7.30 am here and I have just received your reply.
Using a syringe to flush the cavity would most definitely be a benefit if you feel capable of doing this. Again, use the salt solution I described and just lukewarm water. Flush vigourously and if he will let you, perhaps even massage the fluid around the area from outside the skin using your fingers, then try to force it all back out again by massage. At each flushing repeat this process 3-6 times watching the salt solution as it comes out to see how discoloured it is. Two sessions of flushing per day. The idea is that the final flush of each session should look fairly clear. The amount of saline solution in each syringing will depend upon the extent the abscess has underrun the skin. It could be as little as 3 ml or as much as 30 ml. You will see the skin balloon up with each flush and that will give you an idea.
The peroxide is not a real benefit here and can scald the tissue that is trying to heal under the skin. The basis of treatment of abscess infections is good drainage, not topical medication. The salt solution has mild antiseptic properties but will not do any tissue damage.
You should maintain the flushing until the fluid that returns is starting to clear. You may also notice the volume of the abscess decreasing (it will balloon up less with each flush). Under the hole in the skin the tissue will start to look healthy....reddish rather than yellowish. Most abscess will respond to the flushing after 3-7 days. However you recall I said in my first reply that vets usually also use antibiotics to prevent the abscess spreading out into healthy tissue and we do not have that advantage here. So watch things carefully and if the abscess seems to be extending please see your local vet. If the skin separates too far it can lose its blood supply and your cat could lose a sizeable piece of skin.
Good luck
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