(Warning: Graphic post! Don’t read this while eating or if you’re as squeamish as I am.)
(*Near the end of this post, there are some site listings for helpful info. so, just skip down there if ya want.)
Earlier this month, Peter got an abscess on his back/rump area on his left side. (I told you! This is gonna be gross.) We were snuggling on the couch and while I pet him, I felt something not-furry. (I swear, turn back now! Save your lunch!) I investigated gently, with my fingernail and decided it must be a scab. He gets picked on by the other boys so much, he gets little scratches and bald patches all the time. Poor, man! (For those of you that know me well, you know I have a ‘thing’ for scabs. I don’t know why, but they Must be picked! I can’t understand anyone that can leave them alone.) So, I gently, tugged at the “scab” and felt what I thought was maybe a piece of cat litter in his fur… and then something wet. (Too late now, might as well read on.) I looked at it. Then, I smelled a Horrible odor and thought Pete must have had an ‘accident’ in the litter room. I struggled to get up and find what the problem was, so I could get us both cleaned up. That’s when I saw it. A little hole in his side, oozing a bit. Ohhh, that’s what that was! He’d had a little abscess and I popped it! I helped squeeze out the rest and wash him up with some warm water and diluted hydrogen peroxide. The wound healed itself in a couple of days.
A few days later, I felt a lump on Pete’s right side in the same back/rump area. I checked it out. It was a puncture wound just like the other side had had. Someone must have attacked him from behind and grabbed with two paws. Kitties! So mean to my Pete! This wound did not want to heal correctly.
I gently picked the scabs that formed and reformed (like the internet said to do. Ok?! It’s not just my ‘thing’!) The ‘net said the wound should be open so it could drain. If the scab formed and healed it could cause infection and worse. I was careful and aware of Pete’s demeanor so I wouldn’t hurt him. Mostly, he just lay there, sweetly. Sometimes, he would yip as I finished plucking one. But, he would settle down right away and still give me headbutts 🙂 I also trimmed the fur around the wound, so that it would get more air and be easier to clean (especially if it did decide to drain).
Normally, I’m super vigilant about getting the cats to the vet, but since I’m now at a welfare-like wage and I just took Pete and Freckle to the vet for $516 last month, I was hesitant to take Peter in just yet. I felt like I could handle it if I did a little research.
This second abscess insisted on healing the skin and not purging itself of the gross within, so I knew I was going to have to take drastic measures.
For those of you that know me well, you’ll remember that I’m fearful of needles and blood and squeamish of all things surgical and ‘horror’ related, though I’ll watch a Good scary movie (squinting/closing my eyes at the Bad parts), so you’ll be Extremely surprised to know that I, for the sake of my beloved Peter, watched a feline abscess Surgery online. Yes. I did. Yes, I had to squint some as the doctor pushed little surgical scissors around in the unconscious kitty’s headskin and made a second, third and fourth hole from which to drain the pus. Yes, I took deep breaths, checked my pulse and put my head down on my knees under the desk as he pulled some wide ‘thread’ through a betadine solution and looped it in through those holes like some horrible sewing project from Heck. But, I made it through! I did it for my boy.
So, I readied myself for my study and researched the supplies I would need and what medicines, herbs, etc. are poisonous to cats and what meds/herbs, etc. a vet would use (and that I could get my hands on) when doing an abscess draining procedure.
As I was looking for a topical anesthetic (to put on Pete’s skin before making the incision for the drainage), I thought of clove oil. I’m so glad I did research because I found out clove oil and other essential oils can be harmful/deadly to cats! I thought it odd that many sites also proclaimed that clove oil in cats’ water would help their gum pain if they had hurting teeth. Hmmm. I checked multiple sites for info. I also found that capsaicin and tea tree oil are not good for cats.
They had used lidocaine in the surgery, so I researched that. It turns out, lidocaine is not readily available over the counter…except in 2% or 2.5% in Bactine and in a BandAid brand Antiseptic. I couldn’t find anything else in the grocery or drug store that seemed better than that and the pharmacist wasn’t sure if it was ok on cats, but thought it should be, so I bought the BandAid stuff. I figured, I’d dilute it with water, like the hydro. perox. and hope for the best. (This seems so, “eh, I hope it works out. If not, whatev”, but I Really took a lot of time researching and used my best judgment. I love Peter and don’t want to hurt him and I felt that I’m intelligent enough to help him.)
So, I wrote a list of all the supplies I’d need: gloves, towel, gauze, sterile Exacto, cotton balls, warm wash cloth, antiseptic, water, syringe (no needle) and hair ties (for me). I was ready to go all Doctor on Pete with the help of my Assistant (holding, calming Peter), but I worked late on my candy merch job on Friday and Eric was too tired to help after that. Both of us should be alert for that sort of thing, so we put it off.
I worked the next day (today) and we went to the monthly boardgame night until late. (Errgg, again, it sounds like I’m a horrible cat mom! “Eh, I was out, so I didn’t do it. Then, I wanted to play, so…whatever” but I really was ready to Do this!) So, I was thinking we would Have to do it when I got home from work tomorrow (though I had the day off until co-worker called this evening saying she had strep throat. Awesome.), but there had been a change. His bubble had burst, as they say. Eww! But, yeah. There was still that little, red, healing puncture wound on his bald patch, but next to that was a new dime-sized, gaping hole oozing lightly.
Poor Pete! I later saw the likely site of demolition in our bedroom. There were tufts of fur on the comforter, like when there’s a scuffle. But, perhaps he just scratched himself and the fur just came out cuz it’s been doing that on Pete and doesn’t grow back since he got sick. Anyway, that’s probably where it burst, but the couch blanket is where we found the crime scene, as it were. Bleccccchh. I’ll be washing that blanket soon. For now, it’s Pete’s to sleep on until he gets past the oozing stage.
I grabbed a pair of latex gloves, cotton balls and a bowl of water, had Eric herd the rest of the kids upstairs (out of the utility room) and bring me the antiseptic. I poured Pete a small bowl of food to keep him busy. That worked like magic! He hardly cared what we were doing. I squeezed the area around the new wound and drained the pus into cotton balls. I thought we had a syringe that we used long ago to give liquid medicine, but Eric couldn’t find it, so I soaked cotton balls in the water and lightly squeezed them over the wound to semi-flush it. I kept squeezing out what I could from Pete’s side and Eric put some antiseptic on cotton for me with which I washed Pete’s skin.
After a few minutes of this, Peter began to get a little squirmy, but not bad at all. I just needed Eric’s hands to hold Pete from backing up too much or running off.
What surprised me the most, was not just that I managed to play Doctor (no, not That way, sicko!) to Peter without gagging or fainting or just being grossed out of horrified, but that Eric was so… the opposite. He watches Horror films. I’m talking outright nasty gorefests and he’s watched medical shows. Real medical shows! Where they do surgery on real people on tv. I can’t watch that stuff. Yet, there we were, me with the gloves, right in the middle of the gruesome work and he with his eyes averted. Sorry, honey, I outed you, but it’s what happened and it was truly fascinating to me.
I’m hoping Pete will start to heal up right, starting tonight and not be infected; Or leave us more odorous leaks in the house. I will continue to monitor his wound and check for others and clean it daily. I will also keep the others’ claws trimmed so they can’t beat up my boy so badly! Boogers.
For more background info on Pete’s condition, see Sept. 24, 2010 post Cats On Drugs.
*Here is a website and some other cat-friendly info I found while researching my kitty’s “drainage problem”:
If you are not in a position where you can afford treatment, there are options available.
Here are a few:
American Animal Hospital Association
Angels 4 Animals
Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance (FVEAP)
The Pet Fund
United Animal Nations