Raccoons may look cute and cuddly, but they're ultimately wild animals. A raccoon may lash out at your cat over territory or because it considers your cat to be prey. In either case, if you believe that your cat has had an encounter with a raccoon, it's important to get medical help. Read this tips to help support your cat's health following an attack.
Look for Signs of Rabies
Many raccoons carry rabies, but that doesn't mean that all do. A raccoon with rabies is very likely to attack, as the disease can make a raccoon more aggressive. However, it's important to recognize the signs of rabies so you can inform your cat's veterinarian.
Many raccoons foam at the mouth if they're infected with rabies. However, that's not all. Some raccoons will seem less afraid of humans and pets if they're infected. Rabies makes them less fearful and likely to flee when lights are turned on or loud noises are heard. If the raccoon seemed to match these behaviors, let your vet know. If your cat is already vaccinated against rabies, they will likely not catch the disease, but your vet may want to give them a booster.
A raccoon's teeth and claws can penetrate deeply into tissue, so your cat may have some bleeding wounds. These can be tough to locate on a dark-haired cat, so try lightly petting your kitty and see if they react badly to any areas that you touch. If so, check these spots for bleeding. If you find any, it's important to stop or slow it before you head out to the vet.
The best tool for this job is gauze. Gauze won't hurt a cat and it doesn't contain adhesive, so it won't stick to a cat's skin or hair. You can keep it in place with self-adhering medical tape, which will only stick to itself.
Get to Emergency Veterinarian
With your cat prepped, it's important to get to a vet right away. Raccoon claws and teeth are usually ridden with bacteria, which can result in a severe infection, especially if the wounds are deep. Waiting until you can see your regular vet will allow this infection to set in, which could mean a longer treatment time or even severe illness or death.
Give your emergency vet a call before heading out just to let them know you're on the way. This will allow them to prep a room for you and to inform the vet so they know what's coming.
Once you're there, your vet will examine your cat. They may need to shave their fur to find the wounds. If wounds are found, your vet will thoroughly clean them out and take cultures to determine if there are any dangerous bacteria that need antibiotics. Depending on your cat's health following the attack, they may require overnight hospitalization to recover.
Raccoons are quite dangerous, especially for cats and small dogs. If you think your cat has had an encounter with a raccoon - even if you can't find the wounds - get to an emergency vet.
Contact a professional like Robert Irelan DVM to learn more.