As a pet owner, keeping your kitty happy and safe can feel like a full-time job! They love poking their noses into anything and everything. And, sometimes, that can lead to cat wounds and injuries.
Outdoor and even indoor cats face occasional injuries, such as burns or even cat abscesses from playing with other cats.
If your cat does get burned, you need to know what to do and how to treat it. This brief will tell you exactly that. As always, if you are unsure about the severity of your pet’s issue, please contact your veterinarian right away.
Types of Burns
Your cat may be at risk of four primary types of cat burns:
- Chemical – They come into contact with poisonous chemicals like a house cleaning product, paint thinner, pesticide, or fertilizer.
- Electrical – They chew on wires and get electrocuted.
- Thermal – They touch something hot like an iron, the stove, the fire from a candle, or a pan.
- Mechanical – Friction from a rope or carpet rubs against their skin.
When it comes to burns, your first task is to identify the affected area. A chemical burn may need to be treated differently than a thermal burn. Typically, these all have unique symptoms or indicators. For example, with an electrocution, the cat may have burns around its mouth, singed whiskers, and respiratory issues.
Degree of Cat Burns
After you’ve determined the cause of the cat burn, you need to examine the affected area to gauge the wound’s severity. Like with humans, burns are classified based on the three-degree system.1 The higher the degree, the deeper the damage from the burn goes:
- First-degree burns – These are superficial burns that redden the top layer of skin but leave the lower layers undamaged. There may be singed or missing hair and some evident pain. That said, these types of burns can often be safely treated at home and will likely heal within a couple of days.
- Second-degree burns – These are moderate burns that redden the top layer of skin, cause blistering, and also may damage several layers of skin beneath. Such burns can leave a cat in significant pain and typically requires veterinary care and a few weeks of healing. If you see a blister on your cat’s body where they may have been burned, take them in to the veterinarian for further examination.
- Third-degree burns – These are severe burns that could be life-threatening. They penetrate deeply into the skin, damaging the subdermal tissue. Edges of skin may be blackened. At this stage, a cat may go into shock from the pain and may require skin grafts.
If your cat displays the symptoms of second-degree or third-degree burns, seek professional medical assistance immediately. Aside from the burn itself, there may be other secondary health concerns such as smoke inhalation or chemical ingestion. Your vet may also recommend a specific ointment for treatment in some cases.
How to Treat First-Degree Cat Burns
How you treat a first-degree burn will depend on the type of burn your cat has received. Regardless, you’ll have to make sure your cat is immobilized before you address the wound. The easiest way to restrain your cat is by wrapping him or her in a blanket or towel.
Treating Thermal, Electrical, or Friction Burns
Follow these steps:
- Flush the wound – Cold water can help with pain and prevent further skin damage. Either immerse the burn area in cool water or softly press a wet cloth to the area, occasionally pouring water over it. Treat for approximately 20 minutes. This may help to provide pain relief after the accident. Pro tip: check out our blog on how often should you bathe a cat to learn how to safely wash your cat.
- Dry the wound area – After soaking, gently pat down and dry off your cat without rubbing the injured site.
- Add Antimicrobial Gel – A spray-on, antimicrobial wound care product can help clean the wound and jumpstart the healing process. It will also help cool and soothe the area to provide temporary relief.
- Check on the injury – After, you need to keep an eye on the injury, monitoring your cat’s behavior and pain levels. Cats will recover just fine from the majority of light burns. But there may be complications that require veterinarian assistance.
Treating Minor Chemical Burns
Follow these steps:
- Put on protective gear – Be sure to put on gloves and goggles before handling your cat or potentially harmful chemicals to avoid spreading the burn damage.
- Rinse off the chemical – Use water to rinse off the harmful chemical; you may need to use dish soap to remove oil-based chemicals. If so, be sure to thoroughly rinse off the soap afterwards.
- Dry the wound – After, cover the burn area with a wet cloth and take your cat to the veterinarian. Bring the chemical or the label with you so the vet can provide better treatment.
Treating Your Cat’s Burns
Burns can be tricky. You not only have to worry about the injured site, but you also have to consider secondary issues like respiratory problems or poisoning from ingestion.
Because of this, cat burns are one of the injuries that often require a trip to the vet just to be safe. Even a minor first-degree burn could have complications. So, it’s better to be overly cautious.
To be prepared for anything, you should have Vetericyn Plus® Antimicrobial All Animal Wound and Skin Care liquid and hydrogel on hand. It’s a safe and natural way you can flush, moisturize, and help prevent potential infection from a superficial burn.
Looking for more ways to care for cat issues? Check out our guide on treating a cat abscess effectively.
- VCA Hospitals. Burns in Cats. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/burns-in-cats