Cat in Fights
Turk, our 18 month-old tomcat, is always getting into trouble. This spring he found new mischief: fighting with other cats in our neighborhood. Yesterday he came home with some fairly serious looking wounds. Can you tell me why, all of a sudden, he is getting into fights? Also, how bad should his injuries be before we take him to the veterinarian?
You have a lot of company -- many owners of male cats have this same problem every spring. Last spring and summer Turk was probably a bit too young to begin protecting his territory and showing off his territorial instincts.
Female cats come into heat during the spring and summer. I suspect the females in your neighborhood have roused his instincts in Turk to both fight other males for their attentions and to defend his territory against male intruders. About this time of year we see a lot more females in heat to be spayed -- and a lot more males who have been injured in fights. The two situations are related.
I recommend that you have Turk neutered immediately. This simple procedure should help since he is just beginning the mating/fighting/ territorial pattern. Loss of the testosterone hormone should decrease his desire to roam and fight. He also should stop marking his territory with urine. In short, neutering when young usually turns fighters into pussy cats who will stay in their yards and shy away from fights. A male neutered later in life may not stop fighting.
As for injuries, surface scratches which scab over without swelling usually can be treated at home. You can cleanse the wound with soap and water, then apply a topical antibiotic. Make sure that Turk is up to date on his vaccinations, including rabies.
Deep puncture wounds or deep cuts in the skin, usually caused by teeth and claws, should be examined by your veterinarian. These types of wounds can be serious. They can appear to mend on their own but often have a deep infection festering under the healed skin. The cat may develop a dangerous fever and wind up undergoing surgery to drain the wound and clean the area around it. Often we must suture the drain in place and send the recovering animals home with a prescription of antibiotics.