How to Keep a Cat From Scratching a Wound?

How to Keep a Cat From Scratching a Wound

If your cat has been recently wounded and stitched up, it can take anywhere between a few days to weeks before he is fully healed. During this period, your cat should not be allowed to have access to the area that has been wounded.

Stopping your cat from scratching his wound

The best way to stop a cat from scratching a wound is to use an Elizabethan collar or e-collar. The e-collar is designed to prevent your cat from licking, scratching, biting, or rubbing the wounded area. Without the e-collar, your cat will have access to the wound.

And once the wound is readily accessible, your cat can lick or scratch the wound to relieve irritation or even pain. That is but natural. Unfortunately, if your pet has free access to the wound area, he can introduce bacteria to the wound. In turn, this can irritate the wound and cause an infection. 

An infection can cause worse damage to your cat and throw off your pet’s recovery schedule.

The e-collar may have some derogatory nicknames like the cone of shame, radar dish, dunce cap, and satellite dish. However, it serves an important purpose and is a vital recovery tool for animals, including cats.How to Keep a Cat From Scratching a Wound?

What is an e-collar?

The e-collar was invented in 1962 by Frank L. Johnson. For his prototype, Johnson used a sheet of plastic and wrapped it around a dog’s neck.

Johnson decided to name his invention the Elizabethan collar after Queen Elizabeth I of England. Soon after, the invention underwent different iterations but the core principle has remained essentially the same over the years.

Today, it is recognized as one of the vital tools used in vet patient aftercare.

How to put an e-collar on your cat

To put it succinctly, your cat will not like putting on an e-collar. Cats rely on their vision for a lot of things and limiting their field of vision can cause distress. Furthermore, many cats dislike having anything attached to their fur.

However, you do not have many options in this situation. It is either you give your pet access to the wound or give your pet some tough love and put an e-collar on him.

If your cat has no other option but to wear an e-collar, there are a few things that you can do to make the experience less stressful and more bearable to him.

If your feline is undergoing surgery, you can buy or borrow an e-collar days or weeks before the surgery. This will help you get your pet accustomed to the idea of wearing this device. On the other hand, if your pet figured in an accident or fought with another animal, you can still use these tips.

Start by getting your pet familiar with the e-collar. Leave it somewhere where he can come to it to smell or touch it. Every time your cat comes close to the device, give him food or his favorite treat. This helps create a positive association between food and the e-collar.

Once your cat has become familiar with the e-collar, you can start placing it on him and then removing it immediately. Before you do that, it is a good idea to have some food on hand, either placed on a spoon or a tongue depressor. 

Once the e-collar is on, give your cat the food. Leave the e-collar on for a few seconds and then remove it. 

Repeat the previous steps, increasing the time the e-collar is on your cat. Any time your pet reacts negatively to the cone, go back to the start and begin familiarizing him with the e-collar.

How to keep the e-collar on your cat

Depending on the area where the wound is located, the actual position of the e-collar will vary. 

For example, if the wound is located on the tail or the limbs, the e-collar should be longer. On the other hand, if the wound is located in the face or head, the device should be shorter. Either way, the e-collar should be snug enough to allow one to two fingers to slip between your cat’s neck and the e-collar. 

However, some cats are good at removing their e-collars. You can reinforce the cone’s fastener by putting on a regular collar on your cat. Some people recommend using a harness fashioned out of gauze.

If your cat is visibly stressed, you can also try using Feliway to calm him down.

How to keep your cat safe while wearing a cone

Due to your cat’s limited vision, you will need to limit the areas your cat can access. Create a seal between the floor and places he can go under like beds and furniture.

Your pet may also find it difficult to use his litter box. If his litter box has a lid, remove it to make the box accessible to your cat.

If you allow your cat to go outdoors, you will need to stop it just until the cone comes off. 

Monitor your cat’s food intake. If you notice that your cat has a difficult time reaching food and water from his food and water bowls, you can prop these up with books or just place an empty food bowl under these. Alternatively, you can hand-feed your cat.

If none of these work, you can remove the e-collar. But you should only do this during meal times and only when you are around. Furthermore, at the first sign of scratching or licking of the wound, you should step in and stop your cat.

Because of his limited access to his body, your cat will need assistance when it comes to grooming. Schedule a few minutes to groom your pet. Brushing and combing his comb will help remove dead hair and allow him to achieve some measure of comfort. You may also use grooming wipes to clean your pet.

E-collar alternatives

E-collars are not the only devices that you can use to prevent your cat from accessing his wound. Here is a brief look at a few alternatives that you might want to consider.

1. Soft e-collars

A soft e-collar is a great alternative to the traditional Elizabethan collar, offering a few distinct advantages. For one, it allows your cat to eat and drink more comfortably compared to an e-collar. Some cats can even sleep with this device. And because a soft e-collar is like a reverse cone, your cat will have a difficult time pulling it off.

But be aware that compared to a regular e-collar, a soft e-collar provides limited protection.

2. Inflatable collar

An inflatable collar looks and functions like an airplane pillow.┬áBecause this collar does not extend beyond your cat’s shoulder, you should only consider using it if your cat’s wound is located in his upper body.

3. Neck control collar

Like the inflatable collar, a neck control collar should only be used if your cat’s injury is located in his upper body. This collar looks and functions like the neck braces people wear. It immobilizes your cat, preventing him from running around while giving him enough comfort to eat, drink, and sleep.

4. Pet clothes

E-collars prevent cats from accessing wounds by preventing head movement. Pet clothes work differently. Instead of limiting the head movement, clothes cover a wound. You can either buy one specially-made for recovering cats or if you have a small dog costume, you can use that for your feline.

Possible reasons why your cat is itching

When animals are wounded, their first reaction is to lick the wounded area. These may also try to scratch the area during recovery because new hair may be growing or the scabs that have formed are itchy.

These are but natural. However, your cat may be attempting to scratch his wound because there is another factor at play. These include allergies and fleas. 

Check your cat’s coat for signs of fleas. If you have just switched between two cat food brands, it is also possible that your pet is allergic to his new food.

It is also possible that your pet is just stressed out. 

Image: istockphoto.com / Nedim_B