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What Is the Cost of Cat Abscess Treatment? (Updated in 2023)

Lindsey Lawson

By Lindsey Lawson

Veterinary doctor measuring heart rate of cute cat

An abscess is a painful, swollen lump that is filled with pus. They occur on the skin or within the underlying tissues and can occur anywhere on or inside the body. They are often the result of bacteria entering through broken skin.

Abscesses can happen to any cat but are much more common among cats with access to the outdoors, as they are more prone to injury or having fights with other animals. If your kitty has an abscess, you will need to get them to the veterinarian for treatment.

A cat abscess treatment generally costs between $300 – $2,000. With the ever-growing expenses of veterinary care, it’s nice to know what to expect on the bill before you ever walk through the door. Here we’re going to go more in-depth regarding the costs of treating an abscess on a cat.

The Importance of Abscess Treatment

Since this is the result of a bacterial infection, treatment must be administered. If left untreated, not only can the abscess grow larger and more painful, but it could also result in the spread of the infection throughout the body, which can be life-threatening.

If you notice an abscess on your cat, or they are exhibiting concerning clinical signs or unusual behavior, it’s time to get them to the veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

vet holding a senior cat
Image Credit: Alice Rodnova, Shutterstock

How Much Does Cat Abscess Treatment Cost?

The total cost to treat a cat’s abscess can vary significantly and typically falls between $300 and $2,000. Several factors play a role in determining the overall cost of an abscess treatment and they include:

Abscess Type/Severity

Many types of abscesses can occur, and the treatment cost will vary depending on not just the type of abscess your cat has, but the severity. Abscesses can occur in the mouth, on the skin, or even within the organs.

If the abscess is within the body, additional diagnostic testing will need to be done to diagnose it since it will not be visible on the skin or within the mouth. These additional tests can get more costly.

Some abscesses may be mild enough that they can be treated with medication only, while others may require drainage or even surgical removal. The cost will most definitely vary depending on which type of treatment is needed; the more complex the treatment, the more that is involved in the process.

british shorthair cat being treated by a vet
Image Credit: Andrii Medvednikov, Shutterstock

Geographical Location

Geographical location often plays a significant role in the overall price of veterinary care. The cost of living is different depending on where you are within the country but can even vary depending on whether you are in an urban or rural area.

Areas with a lower cost of living will be less expensive when compared to areas with higher costs of living. Rural areas will often be less expensive when compared with more urban or suburban areas.

Veterinary Clinic

If you’ve visited more than one veterinary clinic in your lifetime you will understand that each clinic is unique. Larger clinics that employ a lot of staff members and have more advanced equipment and abilities will typically cost more to visit than smaller clinics that don’t have as much staff or aren’t as advanced in their services and equipment.

Veterinary Procedure Price Range
Exam $30 – $100
Laboratory Tests $80 – $200
Medication $10 – $70
Abscess Drainage (Lancing) $100 – $800
Surgery $300 – $2,000
Follow Up Visit $50 – $100

Additional Costs to Anticipate

The type of treatment needed for abscesses is not going to be the stand-alone cost. There are plenty of other pieces to the puzzle that will be added up on the final bill. There will be additional services required, so we’ve included a breakdown of what additional costs you can expect for abscess treatment.

Exam Fees

Veterinary clinics will charge an examination fee regardless of whether you scheduled your appointment ahead of time, used walk-in services, or are visiting an emergency clinic.  Exam fees will vary depending on the factors listed above, but typically fall anywhere between $30 and $100 and are necessary for proper diagnosis.

Laboratory Tests

A blood chemistry panel and cytology to determine the type of bacteria may be required during abscess treatment. Blood tests will help give your veterinarian a better idea of your cat’s overall health and are especially important before surgical procedures.

cat blood test
Image Credit: PRESSLAB, Shutterstock

Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic imaging includes an X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, and more. Most skin abscesses likely won’t require any imaging, but that will be at the discretion of your veterinarian. Internal abscesses, on the other hand, will require imaging to locate and properly diagnose the abscess, and to help your veterinarian determine the course of treatment.

Drainage

Abscesses that cannot be treated with medication alone may require lancing to drain them. Once the abscess has been lanced and drained, it will be flushed out with a sterile solution and cleaned thoroughly. Lancing an abscess will likely require some form of sedation, which will also add to the overall cost.   

Sad Bored Cat
Image Credit: Julita, Pixabay

Medication

Abscesses are typically caused by a bacterial infection, which will require a round of prescription antibiotics to help clear the infection. Pain management medication or anti-inflammatories may also be prescribed.

Surgery

More severe abscesses or those located internally may require surgical removal. This will be the most expensive course of treatment, as it covers the cost of the surgery and anesthesia. But the veterinarian will only recommend surgery if it is necessary.

cat wearing e-collar after surgery
Image Credit: elwynn, Shutterstock

Follow-Up Appointment

A follow-up may not be necessary if the abscess was mild,  but if your cat has undergone surgical removal or drainage of an abscess, your vet may recommend they come back for a follow-up exam to see how they are healing. Most often, the follow-up exam will only involve the usual set examination fee.

Clinical Signs of an Abscess

Abscesses most often occur on a cat’s head, neck, limbs, back, and base of the tail but can occur on any part of the body or inside of the body. It’s important to contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your cat’s health.

When it comes to abscesses, the signs to look out for include:
  • Pain
  • Limping or pawing at the affected area
  • Fever (especially if located inside the body)
  • Red, swollen lump
  • Excessive itching or scratching
  • Pus or blood on the skin
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Loss of hair at the site of the abscess
  • Swelling of the face and gums (oral abscess)
  • Bad breath (oral abscess)
  • Bleeding gums (oral abscess)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy

I Think My Cat Has an Abscess, What Do I Do?

If you believe your cat has an abscess, you need to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to have them examined. Since the majority of abscesses are the result of a bacterial infection, treatment should not be delayed so that you can prevent the infections from spreading further.

Home treatment isn’t typically advised since antibiotics are often needed to help clear the infection. If the vet feels that you may be able to treat a mild abscess at home, follow their detailed instructions and don’t hesitate to reach out for help as needed.

Most abscesses will heal within 2 weeks of treatment. Owners will need to help with recovery, cleaning, and providing additional care during the healing process. Your veterinarian will provide specific instructions that are tailored to your cat’s needs.

Veterinarian at vet clinic giving injection to cat
Image Credit: Tom Wang, Shutterstock

Does Pet Insurance Cover Treatment for Abscesses?

Most pet insurance will cover the cost of a cat’s abscess unless it is an oral abscess. Abscesses typically fall under accidental illness or injury coverage, which is the most common coverage for all pet health insurance plans.

Dental care is not covered under most pet insurance plans, though it is offered by some companies.  So, unless you have a pet insurance plan that includes dental care, an oral abscess will not be covered, and you will need to pay out of pocket.

Keep in mind that pet insurance plans involve a deductible, and you must first pay the agreed-upon deductible before coverage begins. You will also need to make sure you have not already reached your annual limit for coverage.

Make sure you understand not just your plan and what is covered within it but also your deductible, annual limits, and reimbursement fee. When shopping for pet insurance, be sure to pick the coverage that suits you best. Dental coverage may be an add-on in some cases but may be inclusive in others.

Conclusion

The cost of treating a cat’s abscess can vary significantly depending on not just the type of abscess and severity, but also factors like geographical location, the veterinary clinic you are using, and the required services needed to properly diagnose and treat the abscess.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $2,000 for the entire process. Pet insurance will most likely cover abscess treatment unless it is an oral abscess and the plan excludes dental care.


Featured Image Credit: Denys Kurbatov, Shutterstock

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