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Cat's leg swollen.

Species: Cat
Breed: mutt
Age: Less than 3 mon
Hi there. I've spent an hour or more doing research about this online, and I'm at a loss. So I seek your help.

I work for a large animal rescue. We are in an area with snakes, spiders, scorpions, etc. All kinds of fun stuff.

Recently, it appeared a cat got bitten by something. That's the best we can figure. Cat beds and linens were checked, no spiders, scorpions, or snakes were found. No bite marks were found. The affected area had swelling and the skin turned a dark purple. The cat got so sick, he had to be crossed over. Whatever bit this cat (if it was a bite), killed it. Another cat showed up with the same symptoms. His leg was irrirritated, and within 30 minutes of calling a vet tech, was extremely swollen. They shaved his leg, again could find no bite marks, but again the leg turned dark purple. This cat recovered, and seems to be fine now.

But, obviously, I'm concerned. I have found some info online about heart stuff, but I find it difficult to believe that both cats had heart problems at the same time, right during wasp/bee/spider/scorpion/snake season. All of these dangerous creatures have been spotted around, just not at these particular times, and no discernable bite marks were found. I cannot find anything on the Internet about a cause for swelling and the skin turning a dark purple. I'm concerned about other cats, and what could possibly be going on. I certainly understand it's hard to tell without being here, but you're kind of my last hope for any ideas at this point. The rescue's vets are stumped, too, and that's after actually seeing/examining the cats! We've already lost one precious baby, don't want to lose any more.

Thank you.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This is an odd situation. I'm really not sure how much I can add unfortunately.

If this had happened to just one cat then I would say it was probably an abscess from a bite from another cat. Cats can get bitten, then heal up the skin and then an abscess can form underneath the skin and no bite marks can be seen. They definitely can have the symptoms you described.

However, if you actually saw a cat go from slightly irritated to extremely swollen in 30 minutes then this does not sound like a cat bite abscess. It sounds like it was some sort of venomous bite. My best guess would be that it was from a snake. Where I practice I don't see many snake bites so I can't comment on whether or not that is possible without seeing any bite marks.

If the worst happens and another cat dies in the same way you could consider asking the vet to do a post mortem exam. Sending samples to a pathologist could give us some insight but may be expensive though.

I wish I could add more.

Dr. Marie


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.