Is Neosporin Safe for Cats?

Neosporin, which is more generically labeled 'antibiotic ointment,' prevents infection in wounds and causes wounds to heal more quickly by keeping them free from bacterial infection. Neosporin is intended for humans, but cat owners may wonder whether the ointment is safe for cats.

Antibiotic Ointment Is Generally Safe

Because Neosporin is an ointment to prevent infection, it is generally safe to use on cats. In fact, since cat scratches and bites (if the cat is encountering another cat) can be greatly prone to infection because of a cat's bacteria, and antibiotic ointment can help the cat heal significantly. The owner of a cat who suffers a minor scratch or wound may apply a small amount of the ointment, on a cotton swab or ball, to the wound after applying a small amount of a product such as hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound.

When Neosporin May Cause a Minor Problem

While Neosporin is not highly poisonous, it is not intended to be ingested. Cats frequently lick themselves in order to bathe, and any wound on which the owner places antibiotic ointment may irritate the cat, causing it to lick and bite at the area more frequently. During this time, the cat may ingest the ointment. To prevent such an occurrence, owners may want to watch their cats for a few minutes after application and then use a damp cloth to wash the majority of the ointment away.

When Neosporin Is Not Safe

Some antibiotic ointments contain added ingredients to combat pain in the wound. These types of the ointment are labelled "+ pain relief." While they may not pose an immense threat to a cat, antibiotic ointment with pain relief may cause irritation and could have ingredients that are not safe for cats. Owners should make sure that the antibiotic ointments they use on their cats do not include pain relief formula.

When the Wound Is Too Severe

Neosporin is not intended for use on deep wounds, and this includes on cats. Cats especially may be prone to deep puncture wounds because of the claws of other cats or the cat's exploratory nature. Some of these deep puncture wounds may appear small and seem like surface wounds, so the owner should carefully evaluate the type of wound by first determining the source of the wound, and whether it is a deep puncture, and then observing the bleeding. If the bleeding is excessive, the wound may be a puncture and should be examined by a vet. If even a surface wound is bright red or swelling, the wound may already be infected and too severe for treatment with antibiotic ointment alone.

In most cases, Neosporin is safe for use on cats, but it may present complications if left on for long periods. When used on small cuts and wounds, antibiotic ointment is generally safe for cats, but owners who suspect a more severe wound should bring their cat to a vet for a more detailed examination.