Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Magnanimous Maggot Monday

My complaining about Mondays hasn't gotten old yet has it?

Well, how about starting your Monday with a 17 pound very angry, putrid smelling, matted, maggot cat? I bet that most of you can't beat that one, can you?

I had driven by my neighbors house a few times over the last few weeks and noticed that some of his cats were very matted. Most of them are also very fat, and I think that they are so fat that they can no longer groom themselves. These fat felines especially can't reach their mid to lower back area.

I stopped in last week to drop off a pair of our nice grooming plug-in clippers and gave a 5 minute how-to demo on how to safely remove matted hair on a cat.

For those of you who haven't had my 5 minute "it ain't pretty but it does the job" grooming lesson, here it is.

  • First, always keep your cat calm. If they start to freak out and get angry/aggressive you cannot do anything safely. So either get professional help, or take a time out and try again later.
  • Second, this is a two person job. The first person is the holder, and I find the safest and easiest way to do this is to gently but firmly scruff the cat. Scruffing implies that you are holding the skin and not the hair, because grabbing hair hurts, but holding the skin does not. I also surround my body on top of the cat. Not placing any weight on them, but just cradling them between my arms and upper body. I also place the forearm of the hand I am using to scruff along their spine so I maintain as much control of their movements as possible). The second person is responsible for the clipping. Always clip with the direction the hair lies in and be gentle. Even clippers can cut the skin if you push hard enough, and sometimes these cats are matted right down to the skin.
  • Third, cats can be very dangerous critters if hurt, stressed, or scared. They have sharp teeth and claws and they will bite and scratch if they feel threatened. So be safe, and if you need professional help ask a groomer, veterinary technician, or your vet to help you safely learn how to restrain a cat.
  • Fourth, if you have a pet with a deep wound then there is absolutely no way in creation that you can adequately explore that deep wound without anesthesia. This is a very painful procedure and the point is to identify how deep the wound is and how much it impacts the surrounding anatomy, and then clean it and treat it. So go to your vet if you have a wound that is either big, deep, smelly, painful, or chronic.
  • Fifth, trimming mats on a cat should always be done with clippers. NEVER USE SCISSORS! You will cut the cat, maybe not the first time, but someday it will happen, and you will have to pay me to surgically close it, usually after it has become infected.

Grooming, in my hands isn't about getting your pet pretty it's about getting your pet healthy. Hair gets in the way of many things. To treat a hot spot, a wound, infected or inflamed ears, or eyes, we shave the hair around them and then we can start treating the area.

When I stopped at my neighbors I explained that the matted hair on his cats can cause skin infections which can lead to wounds. I asked him to clip the mats ASAP to try to avoid these.

He called me at 7:30 Monday morning to tell me that "His old orange cat was lying in the grass in the front yard and has a sore on his butt. He isn't getting up to come to the food bowls."

I stopped by an hour later to pick him up to take him into work with me. The minute I picked up the cat I could smell the wound, and I knew I had maggots on the Monday morning menu.

When I arrived at work I opened the cage I saw before me a very fat orange tabby with a wound on the base of his tail. The hair around the tail was very wet from his body secreting serum to try to heal the wound. Many cats will lick an area that has an injury, and if you ever see flies around your pet you should always think wound and maggots. The flies can pick up a flesh wound of the tiniest size and they will immediately descend upon it and start laying eggs. The fly eggs look like tiny off-white salt-like clumps, and they will begin hatching within a few short hours.

These tiny white flecks are fly eggs.
They were laid by adult houseflies on the wet cat food I left for my kitties.
If you leave wet food out like I do please dispose of it within an hour,
or if you see any of the eggs already laid on it.

I was reminded of my own cat wound story when my neighbors dogs attacked my orange tabby cat Moses on my own front porch many years ago. I was right beside Moses when the two large shepherds came out from the yard next door and attacked him. I immediately leapt at them and started yelling and screaming. As I lunged at the mass of dogs with my cat in the middle of the brawl they all ran off. After three hours of searching we found Moses in the woods hiding. After only three hours he was already covered in fly eggs. If we hadn't found him he would have been maggot infested within 6 more hours and dead within a day or two.

Lesson learned; never ignore a wound in the summer (or anytime of year) and get your pet to the vet ASAP if you find a wound, or see flies around your pet.

I'll let the pictures of my neighbors cat tell the rest of this story.

I sent him back home with three days of pain meds, two weeks of antibiotics and a rabies booster. He is to be kept inside and I will pull his drains in a week.

Here are three videos on identifying, cleaning and consequences of maggots in a wound.

If you have any questions on managing a wound in a cat, cleaning a wound, or removing parasites please visit me on Pawbly is free to use and open to anyone who loves pets.

You can also find me at Jarrettsville Vet or on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

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