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Mouse Attacked By Cat

Should a mouse that seemed to suffer minimal injury after being attacked by a cat be taken to a veterinarian?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: May 27, 2012, 7 a.m. EDT

Q: I have both a pet mouse and a cat. Last night, my cat figured out how to get into my mouse's cage and liberated her. I thought my mouse had been eaten by my cat, but my roommate found her alive and almost well hiding behind a cabinet in our apartment. When I came home I checked her for injuries. She has a very small puncture wound, presumably from my cat, right behind her head, below her ears. This wound does not seem very deep and was only bleeding slightly when I found it. The mouse, Jenelle, is going about her typical activities and does not seem fazed by the injury. Is there anything I can do to make this injury heal quickly? Should I take Jenelle to a veterinarian, or will the injury heal on its own? And is there anything I should do to avoid infection of the wound?

A: To be absolutely safe, take your mouse Jenelle to the veterinarian's office to make sure no injuries beyond what you can see exist. This may be a very lucky incident that only resulted in a superficial skin wound to your mouse that may heal on its own. That would be an extremely lucky encounter between a mouse and a cat.

It is possible that the cat’s teeth or claws that caused this wound brought bacteria into the deeper tissues of your mouse. Your veterinarian can examine the tissues to let you know if this occurred. Cats are known to have some nasty bacteria in their mouth, and if any of those bacteria entered the deeper layers of the skin, an infection could be brewing right now. These infections are not always obvious until days or weeks after they start.

Once an infection becomes an organized abscess, it can be difficult to treat with just antibiotics, so surgery may be required.

Based on what you describe, you might only need to put some superficial anti-bacterial ointment on the wound to keep it clean. You cannot see under the skin, however, so the safest way to handle this is to let a veterinarian examine your mouse's wound and make sure there are no hidden, nasty surprises in the skin.

Another reason to take your mouse to the veterinarian is because it is very common to find other wounds in other parts of the body after an attack, even if only one wound is easily visible. The veterinarian can look for evidence of these wounds that happen as claws or teeth penetrate the body and leave no outward marks or cause any obvious bleeding.

From the sound of things, it seems that your mouse was very lucky, but a visit to a veterinarian will make sure he is doing well.

See all of Dr. Rosenthal's Critter Q&A articles>>

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