How To Bandage A Cat Wound

Assess the Wound

The first step in caring for your cat’s wound is to fully assess it. Look at the location, size, and depth of the wound. Note any bleeding or discharge. According to the Gentle Animal Hospital, you should determine the severity of the wound by looking for signs of infection.

If you don’t see any signs of infection, your cat’s wound is probably fresh. The severity of the wound will determine if you can treat it at home or if your cat needs to see a veterinarian (

PetMD recommends having all cat wounds assessed by a veterinarian unless they seem superficial and are healing quickly. Take note of the location of the wound and how deep it appears. This will help you monitor healing progress and determine if veterinary care is needed (

Stop the Bleeding

Stopping the bleeding is the first priority when dealing with a wound on your cat. Apply direct pressure to the wound using a clean towel, cloth, or piece of gauze. Press down firmly but gently on the wound to help stem the flow of blood. Do not lift or remove the towel – maintain steady pressure for 5-10 minutes or until the bleeding slows significantly.

If there is an object embedded in the wound, do not remove it! Doing so could disrupt clotting and cause profuse bleeding. Instead, stabilize the object and apply pressure around it to stop the bleeding. According to VC Animal Hospitals, “Initially, attempt to stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound with an absorbent dressing, such as dry gauze, followed by a layer of bandage material.”[1]

Elevating the injured area above the level of the heart can also help slow bleeding. Continue applying pressure until the bleeding fully stops or is very minimal. Seek emergency vet care if the bleeding does not stop after 10-15 minutes of direct pressure.


Clean the Wound

Cleaning the wound is a critical step to prevent infection. Use sterile saline solution or plain water to gently flush away any dirt, debris, or discharge from the wound (VCA Hospitals). Diluted chlorhexidine or betadine can also be used as antiseptic solutions.

To clean the wound:

  • Wear gloves to avoid contamination.
  • Gently flush the wound with saline solution or plain water using a syringe or spray bottle. Do not scrub hard.
  • Pat the area dry with a clean towel or gauze.
  • If needed, apply a mild antiseptic like dilute chlorhexidine or betadine using a cotton ball. Avoid touching the cotton ball directly to the wound.
  • Let the area air dry for a few minutes before bandaging.

Proper cleaning removes debris and helps prevent infection. Be gentle when cleaning to avoid further damage to the wound. Contact your veterinarian if the wound does not stop bleeding, appears infected, or if your cat is in distress.

Apply Antibiotic Ointment

Applying a small amount of antibiotic ointment can help prevent infection in the wound. However, you should avoid using antibiotic ointments containing ingredients like neomycin or bacitracin, as these can be toxic to cats if ingested [1]. Products like Neosporin are not recommended for cats.

Instead, look for a pet-safe topical antibiotic ointment to apply sparingly to the wound. Use just enough to cover the affected area – avoid globbing it on. It’s important to prevent your cat from licking the ointment, as ingestion can cause side effects.

Your veterinarian may recommend or prescribe an appropriate antibiotic ointment for your cat’s wound. Always follow your vet’s advice on proper usage and dosage.

Bandage the Wound

After cleaning the wound, you’ll want to bandage it to keep it clean and protected while it heals. Be sure to use a non-stick gauze pad or telfa pad so it doesn’t stick to the wound [1]. Place the gauze directly over the wound and use medical tape or vet wrap to secure it in place.

Wrap the bandage snugly but not too tight, as you don’t want to cut off circulation. Wrap the tape around the leg or body part that is wounded. If wrapping a leg or tail, start at the furthest point from the body and work back towards the body. Leave the toes/tail tip exposed if bandaging a limb or tail [2].

Check the bandage periodically to make sure it’s not too tight. You should be able to easily slip a finger between the bandage and skin. If it’s too tight, the toes or tail tip will become discolored. Adjust the bandage as needed to maintain proper circulation.

Allow Your Cat to Rest

After bandaging a wound, it’s important to allow your cat adequate rest and recovery time. Confine your cat to a safe area without stairs or furniture to jump on to avoid re-injuring the wound. Provide food, water, and litter box access nearby so your cat doesn’t have to move around much.

Restrict activity for at least 24 hours after bandaging a wound. Jumping, running, and playing could disrupt the bandage and healing process. It’s best to confine your cat to a small room like a bathroom or spare bedroom during the initial recovery period.

You may want to prepare a comfortable resting spot for your cat with soft blankets and favorite toys. Speaking in a calm, soothing voice can also help ease any stress from the bandaging process. Pay close attention to your cat’s behaviors and appetite to ensure they are recovering well.

Allowing adequate rest with limited movement will give your cat the best chance for proper wound healing. Monitor the bandaged area closely over the next several days and follow up with your veterinarian as needed. Be sure to give your cat lots of love and care during the recovery period.

Watch for Complications

It’s important to monitor the wound site carefully over the next several days as your cat recovers. Watch for signs of infection or other complications developing. Redness, swelling, discharge, foul odor, and bleeding are all signs that something may be wrong.

Make sure the bandage stays securely in place. If it starts to loosen or fall off, replace it with a fresh wrapping. You don’t want dirt or debris getting into the wound and causing an infection. Check under the bandage daily to ensure the wound looks clean and doesn’t have significant drainage.

Your cat may be tempted to lick or chew at the bandage. Try to discourage this behavior, as it can dislodge the wrapping and introduce bacteria into the wound. You can try placing an Elizabethan collar on your cat to prevent access to the bandaged area.

If you notice any concerning symptoms or have questions, don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian. It’s important to follow up and make sure the wound is healing properly.

Change the Bandage

It’s important to regularly change your cat’s bandages to promote healing and prevent infection. Replace soiled bandages promptly, as moisture and debris can irritate the wound and provide an environment for bacteria to multiply.

When changing the bandage, first carefully remove the old bandage. Avoid tearing off scabs or causing additional trauma. Gently clean the wound again with saline solution or an antiseptic cleanser recommended by your vet. Be sure to remove any dirt or drainage on the skin surrounding the wound as well. Pat the area dry with a clean towel.

Then, re-wrap the wound following the same technique you initially used to bandage it, keeping pressure on the pads as you wrap the gauze. Make sure the bandage is snug but not too tight. The bandage should cover the entire wound with an overlap of at least one inch on all sides.

For minor wounds, daily bandage changes are often recommended. For more serious injuries that require sutures or drains, your vet may advise changing bandages 2-3 times per day. Follow your vet’s specific instructions on proper cleaning solutions and frequency of changing your cat’s bandages to promote optimal healing.

If you notice increased redness, swelling, odor, discharge or your cat resists having the area touched, contact your vet right away as these could indicate an infection. With proper attention to changing soiled bandages, you can help protect your cat against complications as their wound heals.

Follow Up with a Vet

If your cat’s wound shows signs of infection, is deep, or does not stop bleeding, you may need to follow up with your vet. After caring for the initial wound at home, it is important schedule an exam with your vet, especially if any worrisome symptoms develop. According to Cat Wound Care 101: The Complete Guide |Pittsboro Vets, signs to watch out for include:

  • Oozing, foul-smelling discharge
  • Swelling, redness, or heat around the wound
  • Loss of appetite or lethargy
  • Fever

If any of these occur, contact your vet right away. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics or recommend stitches to properly close and protect the wound. Prompt veterinary care can prevent complications and speed healing. Follow all of your vet’s at-home care instructions carefully after an exam. With appropriate follow up, most cat wounds heal fully within 1-2 weeks.

Prevent Future Injuries

The best way to prevent your cat from getting injured again is to try to cat-proof your home and yard. Here are some tips:

Keep cats indoors. Outdoor cats are much more likely to get into fights with other animals, get hit by cars, or encounter other hazards. It’s safest to keep your cat inside.[1]

Cat-proof your home. Make sure to put away any sharp objects like knives or scissors that your cat could step on. Keep chemicals and medications locked away where your cat can’t access them. Cover up exposed electrical cords or block access to them.[2]

Cat-proof your yard. If you do allow your cat outside, inspect your yard for sharp rocks, sticks, or debris that could poke your cat. Make sure fencing is secure and free of holes so your cat can’t escape. Trim back thorny plants.[3]

With some simple preventative measures, you can help keep your cat safe and avoid traumatic injuries in the future.

Scroll to Top