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Is Neosporin Safe for Cats?

Updated: August 5, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

Your cat is probably a playful, adventurous, and curious companion. While cats are agile and nimble, chances are they will get a cut or scrape, here and there. It is only natural to try to help our furry friends immediately. Still, we don’t want to run to a veterinarian for every single simple scratch. When we get a small cut or scrape we usually treat it with Neosporin or some other similar antibiotic ointment. It is safe for us, but is Neosporin safe for cats? There is no simple yes or no answer. I would say that it is probably safe but not recommendable.

Let’s see how does it work for starters. Neosporin is a triple antibacterial cream or ointment (ointment is a better choice because cream has more additives). It contains neomycin, polymyxin B and bacitracin. All of them prevent the growth of bacteria. Like most of the medicines it can cause allergic reactions, but other than that it doesn’t have side effects. However, polymyxin B can be linked with possible anaphylactic shock and even death in cats. It is extremely rare, but not impossible.

Other Issues

Neosporin is made to treat minor cuts and burns as it prevents infection and helps the healing process. It works great for us and it should work for cats, too. However, if the wound is already infected it doesn’t work. If the wound is clean and bacteria-free it doesn’t help either. Neosporin is not intended for deeper wounds even if they are small, or skin irritations that cover larger areas of skin. So, obviously it can be helpful, but it is not easy to determine the condition of the wound, especially on long-haired cats.

Then, there is an application problem. Your furry friend loves you, but she might not enjoy you messing with her painful spot. Cats would naturally lick their wounds and Neosporin is toxic (not highly, though) if ingested. Eyes, nose, and mouth must be protected while applying, and a cone is necessary to prevent your cat from licking the wound. Sometimes, a cone will not be enough to keep the wound out of reach, so you will have to use a bandage, too.

Neosporin can contain added painkillers, so you have to read the label carefully. Painkillers, as well as the most human medications, can be harmful to your cat. It is a general rule to avoid human medication unless your veterinarian recommends it. There are also some skin conditions that can be mistaken for cuts and scrapes. Scabs and allergic skin irritations, to mention just a few, might even get worse after applying Neosporin. Sometimes it is better to do nothing than to do what is wrong.

What Are the Alternatives?

We love our furry little ones and we want to help them in times of need. Neosporin could be helpful, but there are many catches to using it properly. What are the alternatives? The best and the safest alternative is to visit your veterinarian. However, if you are sure that the injury is minor, or your vet is booked for some time, a simple phone call to your vet can help you to identify the problem and take the best possible action. You can also add antibiotic ointment made for cats to your first-aid kit. Whatever you use before talking to a vet, you should carefully observe the progress in case that your therapy doesn’t help or even makes the problem worse.

So, what is the final verdict? Is it safe and should you use Neosporin for your kitty? Neosporin is safe, well, most likely. The potential risk, no matter how small, however, outweighs the potential benefit. There are too many possible misjudgments and mistakes in the process. It’s probably safe to use it, but I would advise against it. It is better to be safe than sorry, so I would always check with my vet. Self-diagnosing and self-helping is a risky business. Our furry adventurers take a risk on their own quite enough, we don’t have to add more.

Last but not least, an addition of love and care is a necessary ingredient to make your cat happy!

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