Antiseptics are substances which are used to treat wounds by inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Minor scratches and wounds can be treated at home as long as they are not deep or bleeding profusely.
It is easy to assume that anything that is safe to use on humans is okay for cats too, but this is not the case. Cats lack the necessary liver enzymes to break down many products which are safe to use in humans. As well as that, people don't lick the product off their skin the way cats do during grooming.
Phenols are extremely toxic to cats. Any antiseptic that turns cloudy when diluted with water contains phenols. Any antiseptic (and disinfectant for that matter) which turns white, when diluted, should not be used on or around cats. Dettol and Lysol are common products which contain phenols. Other products you shouldn't use on cats are Savlon, hydrogen peroxide and alcohol.
How are antiseptics dangerous to cats?
There are three ways cats can become sick from antiseptics.
- Toxicity by ingestion of an antiseptic on the coat.
- Ulcers and burns to the tongue when licking antiseptics.
- Damage to the tissue.
Antiseptics safe to use on cats
Products containing either chlorhexidine diacetate or iodine are safe to use on cats.
|Chlorhexidine (brand names Peridex, ChlorhexiDerm, Avaguard)||Comes in 1% or 2% strength. 2% should be diluted at a ratio of 2 tablespoons per 1 gallon of water, or pale blue in colour.|
|Iodine (Betadine)||Should be diluted to the colour of weak tea.|
|Saltwater||Add 1 tablespoon to 250ml water.|
Avoid contact with the eyes when using antiseptics, these are for external use only.
Cat wound treatment
Wounds should be flushed prior to being treated with antiseptics.
To stop bleeding, use clean gauze or a sanitary towel and apply gentle pressure to the wound. Once bleeding has stopped, rinse the wound with clean water and then apply the antiseptic solution. To do this, gently dip some cotton balls in the antiseptic solution and then gently dab onto the affected area. Don't make it soaking wet.
When to see a veterinarian
In many cases, antiseptics aren't enough and your cat will also need antibiotics. Always see a veterinarian if the following occurs.
- If your cat has a wound which is infected such as redness, inflammation or any oozing.
- Puncture wounds or long, deep wounds.
- Wounds which are longer than 1 inch (2.5 cm).
- Wounds which are bleeding heavily.
- If your cat has a fever.
- If your cat is in pain.
- Any minor wounds which aren't showing signs of healing within 24 hours.