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Ask the Veterinarian/Huge lump on cat's neck


We have a little boy cat, who is just over a year old. A couple of days ago, he developed a lump on the side/front of his neck. At first, he was not bothered by it, but today it is very large, and his breathing is slightly laboured, he has lost a lot of weight although he is eating and drinking quite normally. He sleeps a lot more than he used to and is a lot more slow when walking/laying down/anything he does. We booked a vet appointment however the earliest they can see him is tomorrow morning, and I am extremely worried that he won't last that long. The lump is now larger than a golf ball and though he is not too distressed when you touch it, occasionally he lets out a sad meow when you do. He also has his third eyelids out all the time, and he does not seem to be as selective as he was when deciding where to sleep.

I am extremely worried, and any help or advice before tomorrow morning would be very appreciated.

Thank you.

Well it sounds as if he has a massive abscess on this neck and it's getting ready to rupture pus all over the place. He is going to be down with this as it's a huge pocket of dead white blood cells trying to fight off an infection. He may have been bit by another cat.

If he wasn't a year old I would say to rush him to an emergency vet but since he is, and he IS eating and drinking, he should be fine until tomorrow morning. I wouldn't be surprised however, if the abscess ruptures before that.

If it's soft on one spot, or looks more blueish there, that's where it will rupture.
Even if it does overnight, you need to have the vet see him so that they can clean it out, and give him antibiotics to kill the bacteria from the inside out. Otherwise, it CAN come back, so it's important that you do that.

His breathing might be laboured because it's pushing a little against his windpipe. But if he is eating and drinking it should be okay.

If you want to help it rupture sooner, lay some warm washrags on it and that can help it break open. Getting the massive amount of pus out is the key here, so if you are squeamish at all, better let someone else do this. (warning: some of them smell as bad as the pus looks. Some don't smell at all.)

Get all the pus out once it ruptures by gently pressing on the edges of it and clean it off a few times with warm water but do not put anything on it. Nothing, not even a wrap.

Leave it open and it will be fine till the vet sees him.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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