Illness Management - Caring for your sick cat


Illness Management - Caring for your sick cat

Wound care after hit by car - cat

Q: Dear Dr Mike Our 9 year old cat, Misha, was clipped by a car yesterday. She now has a hole approximately .50 cm wide and .75 cm long about 1.5cm's above her right eye. There are only a few abrasions below her neck, no fractures or other internal injuries were found. The blood from her nose and from throwing up has now stopped, xrays have shown pulmonary edema which has decreased since x-raying yesterday. She has been eating on and off for 24hrs, is purring and walking around but is still very disoriented. The vet has recommended not operating on the hole and letting her come home tomorrow. I am concerned with leaving this gaping hole to 'heal over' and will it be detrimental to the cat to bring her home so soon after such an ordeal? ( I should mention that she has a sister at home who has been looking for her ever since Misha went out to direct traffic.) Will being locked up in a large dog type kennel in our living room be better for her than staying put in the hospital? My husband and I are emotional wrecks, can you please tell us what you think? Many thanks! Elizabeth

A: Elizabeth- I think that pets are much better off at home in almost all cases in which a veterinary professional's continuous care is not necessary. I base this philosophy on two things. I hate to be in the hospital myself and assume that most people and pets feel the same way (which may not be true, of course). And hospitals are places in which it is easy to acquire additional infections, despite the best of care. So I would almost certainly send a patient of mine home if I felt like the owners could provide necessary care and were able to provide a safe environment. I think that a crate in the living room is perfectly acceptable. It may not be necessary for Misha to stay in it except when you can't be with her or if she needs to be protected from roughhousing with her sister. In many instances we think it is better to leave wounds to heal on their own rather than suturing them. This is also a judgment call but more often than not this is an acceptable approach. I think you'll find that you are probably very good at providing the care necessary for Misha at home and that having her home will work out well. Mike Richards, DVM. 5/12/99

The basics of caring for a sick cat

How can I best administer my cat's current medicine?

1) lightly crush the tablet into chunks and buy gelatin capsules from the pharmacist to pack the chunks into, then give the capsule to your cat. This keeps the taste down and may limit her reaction to the medication.

2) find a compounding pharmacist and see if mixing into a strong tasting gel formulation (like anchovy or something similar) can disguise the taste enough for your cat. We have had some successes and some failures with this approach. It is nice when it works.

3) use a pill gun. We have nice pill guns with soft rubber ends that should be available through your local vet.

What alternative diet can you suggest so my cat will finish her food?

Personally, I usually tell clients with sick pets to feed them what they want unless there is a specific reason I think it is necessary not to do that, like if they have pancreatitis. Most of the time I think it is better that they eat something than that they eat what I would like them to eat. You need to check with your vet on this one though -- there very well could be a reason for the special diet.

Is it extremely necessary to keep her indoors until she recovers?

Probably not --- except that it is important to make sure that she is home when it is time to give medications, so some sort of confinement is a good idea. At what point do you think I should start force-feeding her? If she eats half her meal, is that good enough? Usually, eating half the meal for a few days is definitely OK. In most illnesses I think it is best to try things like hand feeding good tasting morsels or coaxing the cat to eat in some other way rather than force feeding. In some situations, it is very important to feed and again, you need to check with your vet on that.

What can I use to disinfect the backyard and litterbox to ensure that they are free of any disease-causing bacteria?

Many bacteria are susceptible to sodium hypochlorite bleach (Chlorox is an example). Just general cleaning so that there is no residual stool or other organic material for bacteria to grow in helps a great deal. Mike Richards, DVM.

Last edited 09/17/02


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...