Cats that have recently suffered an injury often have an obsessive need to lick, scratch and clean it, and they can end up doing more harm than good. Wounds need time undisturbed to form scabs and heal properly, and too much activity can leave them raw and vulnerable for weeks. If your cat is continually opening up its injury, you will need to take action to discourage these repetitive behaviors and protect your pet from itself, including recognizing when a ripped scab can turn into a veterinary emergency.
Preventing Access to the Wound
The easiest way to help a cat heal is to deny it access to the wound. For leg or side injuries, this can usually be accomplished with a simple bandage. Head wounds are more difficult to cover up and are therefore more frequently associated with this problem. It may rob your cat of its dignity, but in these cases a cone collar is often the best solution. The cone will block your cat from scratching at the scab until the itching subsides.
Reducing the Risk of Infection
During this time, you can tend to your cat's injury based on its severity and the recommendations of your veterinarian. Open sores should be treated with antibiotics until they are shielded by a layer of scab; you may have a prescription or simply use cat-safe over-the-counter creams instead. You should also make sure that the wound is clean and sanitary at all times; it may help to keep outdoor cats inside during this period.
Encouraging Faster Healing
Lingering wounds that never seem to disappear can be a cause of some concern for veterinarians, so if you don't think your cat is healing properly, schedule an examination to ensure that nothing more serious is going on. Your vet may prescribe a mild steroid or similar medication to boost your cat's immune system and encourage a faster recovery or recommend tests to rule out an underlying disorder. Mild sedatives are also sometimes administered to discourage obsessive behaviors.
Responding to Emergencies
Whenever your pet has an ongoing medical problem, you should be prepared to recognize major problems and get your cat to the nearest emergency animal hospital quickly. In the case of a scab that never seems to heal, watch for signs of infection, such as swelling or oozing, or active bleeding, both of which can cause significant harm to your pet if ignored. When in doubt, don't risk your furry friend's comfort and life by waiting; call your emergency veterinarian and bring your cat in for immediate attention whenever you are feeling uncomfortable with its medical situation.