While cats are governed by self-preservation, they can sustain flesh wounds to the neck area. Tending these injuries is one thing, but the real trouble starts afterward. A neck wound on a cat will be itchy enough to drive your cat crazy. The temptation to scratch must be carefully managed.
You’ll need to watch any cat that scratches its neck overly vigorously. Pets scratch for a variety of reasons, including allergies, fleas, and anxiety. Every scratch has a cause and medical explanation.
- 1 How to Stop a Cat Scratching Its Neck
- 2 How Can I Tell if My Cat Has a Neck Injury?
- 3 How Do Cats Injure Their Necks?
- 4 What to Put on a Cat’s Wound
- 5 Cat Scratching Its Neck Raw (Not an Injury)
How to Stop a Cat Scratching Its Neck
If your cat is scratching at its neck, you’ll need to find an effective way to put a stop to it. Regardless of whether it has a wound on its throat, it’s an undesirable habit.
Many cats with an injury in the past have been forced to wear an Elizabethan collar. These plastic cones sit on top of a cat’s shoulders and prevent them from licking or biting wounds.
The proximity of such a collar to a cat’s neck could be a problem. Only take this approach if you can be confident that it will not aggravate a wound further.
You could also dress your cat in a sweater that restricts access to its neck. Pet-sized turtleneck sweaters are available. If it can’t reach its neck and throat, a cat cannot scratch it. Only attempt to dress your cat in clothing if they’ll tolerate it.
If your cat does wear a sweater, you’ll also need to ensure that they don’t overheat. Cats have a specific body temperature. If they’re hotter than 105 degrees Fahrenheit, they’re in danger.
Training a Cat Not to Scratch Its Neck
Training is the best way to stop this behavior. When your cat begins scratching, distract them.
Make a noise that will get its attention. Your cat needs to consider neck-scratches to be an unpleasant experience, not a relief. This may seem to be mean, but it’s for its own good.
Consider applying an ointment like Neosporin, too. It’s designed for pain relief, but will also stop a wound itching as much as it starts to heal.
Look into blunting your cat’s claws, not declawing your cat. You cannot watch them 24/7. You need to ensure that, if they do start scratching, any damage caused is minimized.
How Can I Tell if My Cat Has a Neck Injury?
Cats can be prone to neck wounds. This may surprise some feline owners, who are used to ‘scruffing’ their cat to handle them. As Vet Street explains, this practice is far from desirable.
If your cat has an injury to its neck, you’ll likely notice. While cats are skilled at hiding pain from humans, neck trauma is too serious a problem to mask. It will often affect its spine, and negatively impact upon a cat’s quality of life. Common warning signs of a neck injury in a cat include:
- Stiffness, and a reluctance to turn its head
- An arched back
- Reluctance to eat or drink, especially if this involves stooping
- Weakness in the limbs and difficulty moving
Of course, this is assuming that your cat’s neck injury is skeletal. These ‘invisible’ injuries must be taken seriously, but bleeding is even more critical.
If your cat’s neck is bleeding, the skin will be irritable while it knits back together. This will lead to the cat scratching the wound with its claws. This has to be managed, or your pet will aggravate its existing injury.
How Do Cats Injure Their Necks?
Cats can end up with neck wounds for several reasons:
- Fighting. When felines fight with rivals, they take no prisoners. They’ll aim for the softest, most painful parts of the anatomy to end a struggle quickly.
- Self-scratching. If your cat has sharp claws, they could scratch themselves until they bleed. You’ll need to learn why they’re scratching so much.
- Fences. Cats sometimes cut themselves attempting to squeeze through improbably small holes Wire fences can be irresistible, and dangerous. It’s easy to cut delicate cat skin on such material.
- Broken glass. Be careful of broken glass in the yard or street. Your cat may slip and fall on it. Cats also love to explore strange houses. If they access one through a broken window, they may cut themselves on entry.
- Surgery. It’s rare, but your cat may need surgery on its neck or throat. This may necessitate stitches, which can re-open. Observe your cat after any such procedure.
Any neck injury, especially if it’s bleeding, must be taken seriously. Apply first aid to a feline with a neck wound. This is just the first step of aiding a cat in distress, though. Once the wound is cleaned and dressed, you’ll need to prevent them from scratching it open.
What to Put on a Cat’s Wound
You’ll need to clean the wound. Use plain, warm water for this, avoiding any scented soaps. Antiseptic is also advisable. There is no way of knowing what bacteria got into the wound.
If you have no antiseptic, consider using table salt. Dissolve half a teaspoon into boiling water, and let it cool. Just remember the old saying, “don’t rub salt into the wound.”
Once the wound has stopped bleeding, and you’re satisfied that it’s clean, gently dry it off. Some cuts and scrapes are best left uncovered, but this is not the case here. Your cat’s neck wound needs protection, or they’ll scratch it.
How to Wrap a Cat Neck Wound
Cat neck bandages need to meet strict criteria. They must be sturdy enough to protect the wound from bacteria and resist removal. They cannot be too thick or tight, either. Cats easily grow distressed if they feel trapped.
Wrap a gauze bandage around the wound, and fasten it with a feline-safe adhesive. Pick something up from a pet store, rather than using a human product. Your cat may bite the bandage, so the adhesive must be non-toxic.
You’ll have to change the bandage daily, to ensure the wound is healing and remains sanitary. If the wound looks infected, or does not start healing after a few days, seek help.
Cat Scratching Its Neck Raw (Not an Injury)
If your cat has not been involved in an accident but keeps scratching its neck, investigate why. There are many potential explanations, and none of them are comfortable for your pet.
Some of the reasons for cats scratching at their necks include:
- Fleas or ticks
- Anxiety, which is manifesting as an obsessive compulsion
- Discomfort in the throat
Whatever the reason for the scratching, it won’t cease until you resolve the problem.
Cat Scratching Its Neck Due to Allergies
Allergic reactions are the most likely explanation. Cats can be sensitive to anything in their environment, which leads to scratching. Look out for hives or rashes on their skin, too.
Allergies can be tricky to pinpoint. You’ll need to undergo a process of elimination to learn what is aggravating your cat. Common allergens include:
- Food. Have you changed your cat’s diet?
- Plastic. Have you purchased your cat a new food or water bowl?
- Fabric. Does your cat have a new collar? Have you changed its bed, or laid down a new blanket?
- Shampoo and Soap. Have you bathed your cat with a new product?
- Environmental Elements. Air fresheners, laundry detergents, and cigarette smoke can all spark allergic reactions in cats.
Question everything, and gradually determine the cause. While you can undertake professional testing for allergies, it’s expensive and the results can be vague.
Cat Scratching Its Neck Due to Fleas or Ticks
Fleas are the bane of any domestic pet’s life. These tiny parasitic pests frequently congregate around a feline’s head and neck. This means that your poor cat may be driven crazy with an itchy neck.
The only real way to protect your cat from fleas is through preventative measures. Regularly administer an anti-flea treatment. Avoid flea collars where possible. These often cause allergic reactions due to the chemicals found within.
Ticks are equally troublesome – arguably more so. If a tick attaches itself to your cat, they’ll burrow into its skin. Your cat will feel the tick, and instinctively scratch as the bug feeds on them.
Most anti-flea treatments will also protect your cat from ticks. Always look for such a product, as ticks carry disease. If you do find a tick, remove it immediately.
- Use a pair of tweezers to grab the tick by the head. Never grasp a tick’s body. It will burst, and leave the head behind.
- Pull the tick out, firmly but steadily, in one straight and fluid motion. Do not twist the tick. This risks leaving parts of it embedded in your cat’s skin.
- Drop the tick into alcohol to drown and kill it immediately.
Never allow your cat to scratch a tick off its neck themselves. Not only do they risk opening a wound, but they’re unlikely to remove the whole tick.
If any part of the bug remains, it will continue irritating your pet. This will lead to more scratching.
Cat Scratching Its Neck Due to Anxiety
Excessive scratching is a classic sign of anxiety in felines. Cats are easily stressed, and something about their environment is upsetting your pet.
Much like with allergies, it may take a process of elimination to understand what is causing this distress. Watch your cat, and you’ll likely pick up signs.
Do they refuse to enter particular rooms in a house? Do they avoid other household pets, or family members? Do they scratch every time they hear a particular noise?
Feline anxiety must be managed, or the cat will become ill. Use some calming scents in the short term (PetMD has some suggestions). Once you understand the trigger of your cat’s anxiety, remove or minimize its exposure to it.
Cat Scratching Its Neck Due to a Sore Throat
A sore throat is likely if your cat is also reluctant to eat or drink. Listen out for its vocalizations, too. If they’re thin and raspy, or your verbal cat is suddenly silent, throat pain is probable.
The usual remedies for a sore throat, such as a spoonful of honey, will not help a cat. Felines are indifferent to sweet tastes, so they’ll likely refuse to swallow the honey.
Never offer your cat a human over-the-counter painkiller. Many of these are toxic to felines. You’ll need something designed specifically for cats.
If your cat displays symptoms of infection, i.e., oral or nasal discharge, they’ll need prescription medication. A course of antibiotics will perk your cat up in no time.
If your cat has a neck wound, they’ll likely scratch it. If they don’t have a neck wound but scratch at its throat, they’ll risk developing one. The result will be the same.
Never stand aside while a cat scratches at its throat. It could cause severe injury and infection. Training and blocking access are all vital in preventing a wound from re-opening.