If your cat has a wound or has just had surgery, they need to not scratch or lick this area while it heals. Cats are notorious for constantly grooming and licking themselves to keep clean. This can cause issues with any type of wound or surgical site. 

Why does my cat scratch his wound?

These are a few reasons that your cat is constantly scratching their wounds. Once you figure out why your cat is scratching the wound, you can then easily help stop these behaviors. 

They itch

Most cats will scratch their wound because they itch and bother them. Just like with humans, if we have a wound on us, they will usually itch sometimes when they are healing. As the wound is healing, a scab will appear and help pull the skin back together. This can cause the wound to be painful and itch. We understand that we cannot scratch these sites, or they will get worse; your cat does not. 

Your cat likes to be clean

Most cats do not like to be dirty. They will constantly lick and clean themselves. Wounds are no different. Your cat will lick their wound in order to keep them clean and help them heal. Your cat’s tongue is very rough and can cause more damage to their wounds and surgical sites. They can easily remove stitches that have been placed in an incision in just a few minutes. 

How to stop my cat from scratching a wound?

If your cat is scratching at their wounds, there are a few things that you can do to help, such as:

Put on e-collar on them

If your cat is licking their incision or there is a wound on their face, an e-collar is the best thing to put on them. These are hard plastic lamp shade looking cones that you put around your cat’s neck. This will help prevent them from reaching their face and help prevent them from being able to lick anywhere on their body.

They make hard plastic e-collars and soft ones. I find that cats tend to love the soft ones much more but are better at getting out of the softer ones.

Put them in a cat bodysuit

Cat bodysuits are great if your cat is scratching or licking a place on their body. These look like baby onesies. They can be put on your cat to help prevent them from being able to reach anywhere on their body. If you cannot find a cat bodysuit, you can even use a baby onesie; just make sure you cut a hole for their tail and remove it frequently so that they can go to the bathroom.

Cover their wound

Some wounds may be on your cat’s legs which a bodysuit would not cover, and your cat may still be able to reach with their mouth even with a cone. This is when wrapping a wound would be needed. You can use vet wrap to wrap these wounds. This product will stick to itself and not your cat making removing the bandage easy and pain free. Some vet-wrap products come with a bitter coating on it to help prevent your cat from wanting to lick the bandage off.

Put booties on their feet

If your cat is still able to reach the wound to scratch, using cat booties will help prevent them from damaging their skin in that area. Some cats do not tolerate these booties and will find ways to remove them very quickly. It will take your cat a few days to get used to these booties on their feet. Another great alternative to these booties is baby socks with a little bit of tape around the top of the socks to help them stay on. 

Trim their toenails

Some cats, no matter what you try, will still scratch and lick their wounds. If your cat is still scratching their wound and doing damage to their skin, it is best to trim their toenails very short to help prevent them from being able to do more damage to their skin. You can also use a nail grinder to help smooth the sharp points to help make their nail less destructive to their skin. Most cats’ nails will grow very quickly, so you may need to buff the tips of their nails every few days. 

Can a cat’s wound heal by itself?

Most cat wounds will not heal without a little bit of work. Cats are notorious for getting into cat fights. The wounds can get infected if not cleaned and treated with antibiotics. Your vet may need to remove any dead and infected skin to help these heal. Some cat wounds can be very large and take a very long time to heal without the help of your vet. 

What should I do about my cat’s wound?

If your cat has a wound, there is something that you can do at home to help these heal. 

Keep them clean. 

You should clean your cat’s wound once a day. Chlorohexidine solution can be purchased at your local human pharmacy or online. You should put a small amount of this cleanser on a cloth and clean the wound each day. 

Apply topical antibiotic cream

You can use Neosporin or any other human topical antibiotic cream. This should be applied to the wound twice a day. Some topical antibiotic creams will also contain lidocaine. This will help decrease any pain and can even help stop your cat from itching these spots. 

See your vet

If this wound does not improve after a few days or seems to be getting worse, it would be best for your cat to see your vet. Certain types of cancers or severely infected wounds will not get better with at home treatment. Your cat may need their wound surgically debrided and oral antibiotics for it to heal properly. 

Final thoughts

If your cat has a wound, it is best to prevent them from scratching and licking them. Trying some of these tips and tricks will help decrease the chance of your cat scratching their wounds and making them even worse. If these wounds are not healing or getting worse, it would be best for your cat to see your vet for prescription medications to help. 

Author

Sara graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University with a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. She has been practicing as a small animal veterinarian since graduating in 2015.