How can I help my cat?
July 3, 2006 6:37 PM   Subscribe

My cat keeps ripping open a healing wound. Has anyone else dealt with this before?

Has anyone else encountered this before? We have a two year old cat who had a large cut on his right ear. After some time, and the wound was almost healed, our cat, Sam, began to repeatedly scratch the ear and rip open the scab making it far worse than in the beginning. We took him to the vet and he has a cone on now. He has gotten out of the cone several times despite our best efforts to keep it on him and every time he has gotten it off, he has ripped open his ear again thus lengthening his stay in the cone. Now we are approaching month 5 in the cone. Sam has gotten, understandably depressed, he has lost weight and is acting out behaviorally. Any advice?
posted by chuma to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My sister had a german shephard who was always scratching his skin to his detriment. He was hyper and more than a little nuts. The vet finally put him on prozac, I think it was. It might be time to drug your kitty's butt until this all heals.
posted by bim at 6:42 PM on July 3, 2006

Healing scabs itch. His scab itches, he's scratching it. I imagine it's itching like freaking crazy. Also, it probably feels really weird. I kind of wonder if some steroids might calm down the inflammation or if it would be not-good with the healing wound? Cats do tolerate steriods better than people or dogs though.

Alternatively, if you are using a topically applied ointment, see if they have or can recommend one with a topical analgesic. Should make the area not exactly numb but just not hurty and/or itchy . . .might do the trick.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:51 PM on July 3, 2006

Yes, that sounds like a good idea, can't imagine any of mine dealing with a cone, my dogs even removed each others rabies tags. try something to stop the pain and/pr ithching
posted by cellar at 7:34 PM on July 3, 2006

I highly recommend Neosporine and the like to hasten the healing process. Also you may want to try clipping his claws, if he would allow it.
posted by gatorae at 8:21 PM on July 3, 2006

Poor kitty!

It sounds like you've tried everything you can to stop your cat from scratching, and it's not working. Perhaps diminishing your cat's ability to scratch will speed the healing process. There's a product called SoftPaws that might help. SoftPaws are plastic sheaths that fit over your cat's nails, rendering them harmless to furniture and human flesh. Many groomers and veterinarians will apply them for you; I don't recommend that you try it yourself. Your cat will still be able to scratch, but he might not be able to do as much damage.

If that doesn't help, it might be time to talk to your vet about amputating the damaged portion of the earflap. This is a drastic measure, but if your cat's quality of life continues to be diminished, it might be worth it. When veterinarians spay or neuter feral cats, they usually cut off a portion of the feral's ear flap. This lets people who provide health care to ferals know that the cat's already been altered and doesn't need to be captured again. Because the earflap is such a blood-rich area, it heals quickly.

What worries me a bit is that your cat's ear isn't healing. I'd ask your vet about possible underlying health problems such as hyperthyroidism or Bartonella henselae infection (which causes scabby ears in some affected cats.)
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 9:59 PM on July 3, 2006

My cat had issues with a wound on his neck that took ages to resolve. He HATED wearing the cone with the wide part flaring out over the face and would somehow work his way out of it. As soon as we reversed it, he was fine with it. It worked for him because the cut was on his neck and he couldn't get around the cone to get to it (paws went under instead of over). He was much happier and almost didn't mind the cone after that. Also, not all cones are created equal - he could easily get out of the transparent white ones which he seemed much more uncomfortable wearing than the gray one with the black velcrow and black bit around the neck part. They're only a couple bucks at the pet supply place if you want to try a different one.

Other than that, the general advice - keep the cut area clean and keep hair out of the scab (so it doesn't pull and make it even itchier/more annoying). If he's on medication (antibiotics/steroids/xanax/etc) make sure he's taking it and not just tricking you.

My cat's wound issues were related to/exasserbated by a combination of anxiety and allergies which have abated, so hopefully you're not in for the years of frustration that my cat & I were. I never thought it would end, but it did and he's happy and cut free - there is an end to it, really!
posted by imbri at 1:00 AM on July 4, 2006

The identical situation just happened with our kitty. We had taken her to the Vet, got some eardrops (the scab was just inside the ear and upon observation, the doc thought she might have a yeast infection). The wound would start to heal but then look bad again (from scratching it no doubt).

We took her back to the Vet and she got a steriod injection. This stopped the inflammation and with different ear drops (try giving a cat drops in the ear for two weeks) she didn't scratch it and the wound healed. Success.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 5:47 AM on July 4, 2006

Check with your vet before you even consider doing the following, because cats react very differently to a lot of natural herbs than the way humans react.

It sounds like the ear is healing fine, until the dermititis or inflamation from the injury causes your critter to reopen the wound. If your vet says its okay(for cats and your cat in particular) try some Calendula Extract, available at most health food stores that carry herbal medicene. Make sure you get a suspension in water, if possible.

You will NOT use this internally though. Calendula, applied topically can even erase the pain of a hornet sting. Its great for dermal reactions such as pain and itching - but remember - always consult a doctor [for people] or a vet [for pets] before using, never use on an open sore - in your case, you would want to use this during a healing phase for that ear, to keep it from bothering your cat into scratching at it, so it can finish healing - especially consult a Doctor if there is a visible or raised rash - and keep your cat from licking ear and paw until it has sunk in and dries, which is very quick with calendula extract.

Extracts are oral herbal suspensions, but I mostly use them topically - they are not as concentrated as essential oils, and they penetrate quickly. If your vet poo-poos herbal medicene, most cities will have a vet listed that does understand herbal medicene, and can answer your questions. I once had a bad mexican hornet sting on my hand - I was yelling my head off, and the calendula annihilated the pain - better than water on a fire.

Thanks to Medievil Maiden for reminding me about it!
Good Luck
posted by SalvoSensu at 9:45 AM on July 10, 2006

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