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Another Cat Fight, Another Abscess

Note: This in no way is to replace medical intervention with animals. It is an example of what we can do when we catch injuries quickly enough. Also, animals process herbs far differently then we humans do. The plants I used are safe to use on cats. And I don’t recommend essential oils.

Abscess are a constant with a cat who fights. It would be great if the little Jekylle and Hyde wouldn’t. But the first signs of Spring and Fall lead him hypnotically to the neighbor’s house spoiling for a brawl. Our cat is about half the size of these neighbor cats (yes, there are 2, not one). Needless to say, but I will, Copal typically loses, and comes home with puncture wounds which lead to abscesses.

The trips to the vet often tip our financial state from okay to difficult. Last Fall, Copal did not respond to the vets treatment. So I spoke with a vet who was supportive of me dealing with the abscess my way. I talked to her about my plan, and it worked!

After healing, Copal got to spend about 9 months in the house while we figured this fighting thing out. What follows is how we changed his lifestyle without taking away his kitty outdoor freedom, as well as how we dealt with the abscesses.

1. Outdoor time is spent only in daylight, for the tendency to fight is in the dark. He goes out after sunrise, and comes in at 4pm. Yes, he protests, but this schedule has decreased his fighting by about 90%.

2. Even though he hates it, I feel him over very well a couple times a week. Spots where abscesses occur most frequently in him: around his legs, neck and checks. When I first began doing this, he began to avoid me. That strategy doesn’t work for long with a needy cat, though.

One such check allowed me to find the puncture before it closed. The problem with cats is they generate skin cells quickly, sealing in infection and allowing a ripe environment for an abscess. The type of bacteria causing abscesses doesn’t need oxygen to thrive. So the infection pockets and goes deeper as it grows.

What I Did To Treat the Beginning Abscess

This Fall was his first puncture in a year. I found it when it was days old. The skin and fur on it were easy to ply off. Yes, this hurts. So I was prepared with his favorite treats. And yes, pulling off the fur and skin from the wound is step one.

The smell of puss and infection is pretty intense, but you have to work past it. In this case, there was a large pocket of puss. I gently massaged around the wound to release it.

The next step is to clean it. I use a clean dropper from an old tincture bottle. The dropper fits easily into the hole of the puncture or wound. And what went in said dropper?

An alcohol tincture formula of: myrrh, echinacea, blood root, yerba mansa and usnea. 1 part of everything, but 1/2 part blood root.

I diluted 35 drops in 2 teaspoons of water, filled the dropper, inserted it into the hole, and flushed out the wound. At the end ofthe treatment, I leave the fluid in the pocket for about half a minuet while I massage around the wound. This does hurt a bit, especially on day one. But the herbs begin to numb and anesthetize the pain.

After this is done, more treats are given, and I apply a St. John’s with Calendula infused oil Salve to the area with a few drops of the tincture formula mixed in.

Next, I put 3 drops of echinacea and 3 drops of istatis in 1/2 teaspoon of hot water (to evaporate off the alcohol), added a little goat yogurt, and gave it to him internally by syringe.

More treats.

This protocol was done 2 times a day for 5 days. The trick throughout the process is to keep the wound open for the week. If it heals you may find yourself back at square one and on the way to the vet, which is fine too. Some pets need that. If needed, to keep the wound open, apply a warm wet cloth to the area once or twice a day. We didn’t need to it this time, but I have done it before.

Copal came out of this one in great shape. He didn’t get really sick, didn’t have diarrhea from antibiotics, and it healed beautifully. Now he’s growing back his fur, and allowing me to be near him again. And thanks to my husband for helping and treating the little guy while I was out of town. He did an awesome job, too.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Megan

    Dauntless cat woman you are!

    I appreciated this article as a hopeless cat owner (they find me wherever I go) who frequently attempts  home treatment for cat wounds.   I find it challenging, and sometimes impossible, to find effective, very specific info. about alternative treatments for kitties. 
     I hope you write more.  

    I’ve also noticed there are no good cat herbals around (or even general animal herbals).  “Herbs for Pets” is a start, but super general.  Juliette de BL is useful to a point, but could be enhanced with current research (like the quandry about cats and high garlic doses) and more focus on felines.  Maybe a cat-loving herbalist like you will fill this niche someday.

    I’ve failed at puncture treatments with older, formerly feral cats who adopted us (they won’t put up with the boundary violations), but when you start handling your cats like this from a young age, or when they have sweet, needy personalities (like yours), it seems more attainable. 

    Thanks for putting this out there!

    • Thanks, Megan!   I really appreciate and agree with what you said.  There is not enough said or done to research how to deal with these things naturally.  And many methods don’t deal with the complexity of  the malady.  On top of that, so many plants are toxic to cats because of how they metabolize, further complicating the issue.
      And don’t get me started on cat herbals.  I checked the price of said herbals at the pet store, and for a 2 oz. bottle of tincture they wanted $35!  What is that about?!?  I use standard brands or tinctures I make, and formulate accordingly.  If I make it the cost is about $2 an oz. At the store closer to $11 an oz., which is still a far cry from $35.
      One formula that can be purchased at the Willy St. Co-op is called Mouth Tonic and it’s by Herbs Etc.  I use it externally on abscess and in puncture wounds when I’m out of what I need.  It has bloodroot in it.
      The bloodroot application is awesome. My cat had one abscess last year that had healed over.  So I took a St. John’s wort calendula salve and added bloodroot tincture to it.  After 3 applications throughout the day, the abscess burst in my hand.  I continued to flush the wound with tinctures of bloodroot, usnea, echinacea, myrrh and yerba mansa and warm compresses to keep it open.  It inspired another abscess pocket under the original to pop.  And what came out, besides the obvious, was a piece of cat claw.  Don’t you love the tenacious, drawing and warming bloodroot?
      For information on contraindicated herbs for cats and why, check out this site.

      Treating cats at home is tricky.  And it does take someone to hold them down in the initial stages. These things are very painful.  I also tell people that sometimes failure is the mother of invention.  And that is certainly the point we came to with cat abscesses and fights.  Perhaps you will find a way to treat your most prickly cat friends and write about it.
      Warm wishes,


  • Jaw

    goat yogurt?

    • Isis Cowbaby

      Hi great article am dealing with this myself!
      I haven’t had a cat wound problem in about 1 1/2 years, I do the same only out during daylight hours!
      Have you ever tried colloidal silver for internal flushing of the wounds?

      • Thanks for writing. Interesting that you have had to deal with them so often. We did to, until the cats that our cat fought with regularly moved. He fights with other cats, but doesn’t get abscesses from his wounds. It was only these two across the street. Interesting. I have not used colloidal silver. Let me know how that goes if you do. Warm wishes.

  • Erica W

    Thanks for this thorough, and thoughtful, description of treating cat abscesses. I appreciate the inclusion of prevention strategies.
    We have sometimes used yarrow on head abscesses, where the cat can’t lick it off, but I understand the essential oil is toxic by ingestion. Not sure where yarrow tea fits in the spectrum. But yarrow is what we have in abundance here. Can you recommend a good source of other tinctures, or their dried components, or even a specific blend that’s similar to what you describe?

    • Hi Erica,

      Thanks for writing.  I’m not sure where you live, but I have found there is a tincture that makes an excellent substitute for not having all the needed ingredients.  It is by Herbs Ect., and is Mouth Tonic.  You will find it at some co-ops in the toothpaste section.
      For the most part, I avoid essential oils on cats.  They are so sensitive.  While others do it, I prefer to use tinctures or teas.
      I hope that answers your question.  Warm wishes, Kathy

  • April

    Was wondering where you find your isatis at? Thanks (: April

    • Hi April,

      It’s a tricky one to find in good quality. I purchase mine from Herbalist and Alchemist. You can order online.
      Warm wishes, Kathy

  • Isis Cowbaby

    Hi great article am dealing with this myself!

    This is the first cat wound problem in about 1 1/2 years, since i started doing the same and only letting cat out during daylight hours!

    Have you ever tried colloidal silver for internal flushing of the wounds?