Burns and Scalds on Cats
Flames from house, brush, and forest fires are just one type of burn that can affect your cat. A cat’s haircoat is extremely flammable and most cats have not been taught that ever-important fire safety phrase: “Stop, Drop, and Roll”. This means you need to be especially careful to prevent burns and scalds from occurring in the first place.
* Accidents in the kitchen, especially with new kittens, are not uncommon. Scalding with hot liquids or oils or even touching a hot pot by accident can cause a serious thermal burn. Heating pads used to warm up new litters can cause radiant heat burns that are similar to sunburn.
* Curious kittens chewing on electrical cords can end up with electrical burns that destroy the skin as well as the deeper tissues.
* Smoke inhalation can cause lung damage and respiratory distress that may be apparent immediately, or not until 24 hours later.
* Cats with severe and extensive burns can go into shock as a result of the fluid loss and decreased blood flow that occurs through the surface of burned skin.
Always contact a vet as soon as possible whenever your pet may have suffered anything other than a minor burn. Many cats may look fine initially but become distressed within the next 24 hours.
WHAT YOU AND YOUR VET CAN DO
* For minor burns, cool water soaks with loose-fitting gauze bandages often suffice.
* More severe burns should be seen by your vet as soon as possible. The prognosis of a burn depends on the percentage of skin affected, the depth and location of the burn as well as the cat’s age and overall health status. Treatment is geared to address shock, replace fluids, maintain breathing, cool the skin, and reduce pain. Cleaning the area removes dead tissue and debris. Antibiotics reduce the risk of infection and proper nutrition counteracts protein and fluid losses. Burns involving more than 50 percent of the skin surface carry a poor prognosis. In many cases euthanasia must be considered.