How Much Does Cat Abscess Treatment Cost?

If you own an outdoor cat, it’s highly likely that it will suffer an abscess at some point during its lifetime. The first thing that you should know is that abscesses won’t heal by themselves.

So, if you think that your cat has an abscess, you should take your pet to the vet right away. But how much does it cost to treat cat abscess?

In this guide, we take a detailed look at why some cats are so prone to abscesses, what treatment a cat abscess requires, and how much that treatment is likely to cost.

Breakdown of Treatment Costs

The cost of treating a cat abscess is made up of the following elements:

  • First veterinary consultation and examination
  • Hospitalization
  • Wound drainage
  • Dressings
  • Anesthesia
  • Antibiotics
  • Analgesic drugs
  • Rabies vaccination
  • Blood tests
  • Elizabethan collar

Following treatment of your cat’s abscess, you will need to attend your vet for at least one check-up appointment. At this consultation, your vet will remove the drain and stitches, and they will check to see that the abscess site is healing satisfactorily.

Cost of Cat Abscess Treatment

Treating an abscess in a cat is generally a straightforward procedure. However, the cost of treatment may vary depending on where you live, the size and location of the abscess, and any remedial treatment that your vet deems necessary to prevent the problem from recurring.

Veterinary consultation and examination – You should take your cat to the vet immediately if you notice an abscess. The vet will ask you a few simple questions such as when you saw the problem, whether your cat is one of several house cats or does your pet go outdoors.

Once the detailed history of your cat’s condition has been established, the vet will examine your pet. The cost of an initial veterinary consult and examination is around $50.

Hospitalization – Your cat will require at least one day’s hospitalization for its treatment. The typical charge for a day’s veterinary hospital admission is around $50.
The vet will examine your cat while it is in the hospital to check that the abscess is draining satisfactorily. The cost of an in-patient examination is around $30 while a day’s hospital care for an in-patient is around $40.

Wound drainage – A large abscess will require drainage via surgical puncture. A sterile drain will be placed in the abscess site to remove any infectious material.

The cost for wound repairs, including abscess drainage is around $50. If the abscess is very large, the price for treatment could be as much as approximately $200.

Anesthesia – Abscess wound treatment is carried out under general anesthetic. The typical cost of anesthesia is around $85 for the first 30 minutes while an additional of $70 is charged for every 30 minutes required after this.

Dressings – Your pet’s wound may be dressed to keep it clean and to hold a drain in place. The cost of bandaging or dressing a wound is around $17.

Analgesics – Abscesses are very painful and your vet will probably prescribe pain relief for your cat. These analgesics include Buprenorphine, Tramadol, and Gabapentin.
Vetergesic contains Buprenorphine which is  a popular long-acting pain-killing drug that is given by injection. It costs about $24 per dose.

Antibiotics – Infection is a common side-effect of cat abscesses. For that reason, your vet will usually prescribe antibiotics for your pet to kill off any bacteria that may be present.

Cephalosporin is a long-acting, injectable antibiotic that is often given to cat abscess patients. A common brand name for Cephalosporin is Cephalexin which costs approximately $0.58 per unit.

Vaccinations (if required) – Serious infectious diseases such as rabies, FIV, and FeLV can be spread via bites from infected cats.

Some states require that vets give a rabies booster vaccination to cats with a bite wound. The cost of a rabies vaccination is around $20 to $40.

Blood tests may also be necessary to check that your cat has not contracted FIV or FeLV. A comprehensive in-house bloodwork panel costs around $140.

Elizabethan collar – To stop your cat from scratching its wound, it will need to wear an Elizabethan collar. An Elizabethan collar costs approximately $13 to $24 depending on your cat’s size.

Check-up consultations – Your cat will need to see your vet again about a week after the initial treatment to make sure that the abscess is healing and to have any stitches taken out. If the abscess was very large or severely infected, you might need more than one follow-up consult which costs around $30.

cat with bite wound

What is a Cat Abscess?

A cat abscess typically occurs following a bite from another cat or wild animal such as a rat. The assailant’s teeth puncture the victim’s skin, driving bacteria deep into the underlying tissues — subsequently, an abscess forms.

An abscess is a pocket of liquid (pus) that comprises inflammatory cells, damaged tissue, and bacteria. Abscesses can occur in any part of the cat’s body, including in bite wounds, anal glands, and tooth roots.

Symptoms of Cat Abscess

It can be difficult to spot an abscess before it develops because the cause is usually underneath the cat’s fur. Owners generally feel a lump, typically on the cat’s neck or back, once the abscess has formed.

Often, there is a scab over the bite wound near the lump where the abscess has burst. However, many cats develop a fever before the abscess forms and you might only notice that your cat is off its food or that its activity levels are lower than usual.

Other signs that indicate an abscess can include:

  • A swelling or lump
  • Reddening of the skin
  • Limping (if the bite is near a limb)
  • Hair loss around the lump
  • A scab or oozing sore
  • Pus (a thick, foul-smelling, yellowish liquid) in the cat’s fur

Any cat with access to the outdoors can develop an abscess. If your cat develops any of the symptoms mentioned above, you must take your pet to the vet right away.

How is a Cat Abscess Treated?

The treatment your cat receives depends on the severity and location of the abscess.
Typically, antibiotics are prescribed to fight off the infection. If the abscess is in a tooth root, a course of antibiotics should remedy the problem; although some remedial dental work could be necessary to prevent a recurrence of the condition.

The cost for a single tooth extraction is around $100, including anesthesia. The cost of a full dental check-up, tooth clean, and extractions is about $300 including anesthesia, fluids, etc.

Surgical drainage of the abscess may also be required. To do this, your vet will insert a sterile drain into the abscess to allow the pus and infectious material to drain away while the antibiotics take effect.

The abscess site will be cleaned and flushed out to remove the infected material. Surgical intervention takes place under general anesthetic.

Your pet will need to stay in the hospital for the day of the procedure and you will need to return to the vet a few days after your cat’s treatment for removal of the drain and stitches and re-dressing of the wound.

The main concern with bite wounds in cats is the potential for contracting serious infectious diseases such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and rabies. Because rabies is transferable to humans, some states require that your vet administers a booster vaccine if your cat has a bite wound.

Your vet will probably also test your cat for FIV and FeLV to make sure that your pet has not contracted these dangerous and incurable diseases.

You may be instructed to continue treatment at home by soaking the wound or applying warm compresses to the abscess site to help draw out any remaining pus. It’s essential to monitor the wound for redness, further swelling, excessive heat around the wound site, and continuing discharge that could indicate a recurrence of the abscess.

inflammation and abscess on cat foot

Can Cat Abscesses be Prevented?

Unfortunately, your cat is allowed outside; it will likely be involved in an altercation with another cat at some point in its life. Cats are territorial, so fights in neighborhoods with a large feline population are frequent and bites often result.

Also, if your cat is a ratter or comes into contact with other wild animals, there’s a chance that it may suffer a bite. Sometimes scraps between feline housemates occur too.

If your cat spends much of its time outside, be sure to have it vaccinated and check its body regularly for bites and scratches. If you discover a puncture wound, trim away the hair around the area and wash it thoroughly with warm water.

At this stage, a precautionary visit to your vet is a good idea. Prompt, appropriate treatment is the best way of preventing an abscess from forming and will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Author Bio

Dr. Patty Khuly

Patty Khuly, VMD, MBA is a prolific pet health writer, occasional media personality, and a practicing veterinary clinician (for almost 23 years!).