Burns on Cats: Types and When They’re an Emergency

Burns on Cats: Types and When They’re an Emergency


As a cat owner, it’s important to learn how to recognize when something may be wrong with your pet. Although burns are not very common in cats, they can definitely still occur, and it is up to you to learn how to tell when your cat’s burn needs medical attention.


Below, you’ll find information that outlines the different types of burns your cat could receive. You’ll also learn how to recognize each one and find out more about when these burns constitute an emergency. Read on to find plenty of facts about burns in cats.

cat with burns in pain



Thermal Burns

Thermal burns are some of the most common in both humans and cats. This type of burn is caused by a heat source. If you’ve ever burned your hand while cooking, then you have experienced a thermal burn.

It is possible for thermal burns to be superficial, like a mild sunburn, or very severe. The severity of the burn all depends on its source, so you’ll need to consider how your cat got burned and what his symptoms might be in order to determine whether or not a thermal burn is an emergency.


Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are somewhat common in cats, but they are not as common as thermal burns. This type of burn comes from certain types of chemicals that may be harmful to the skin. Acid substances and gasoline are some chemicals your cat could come into contact with that might cause a burn.

Although some chemical burns may be superficial, many are moderate to severe. Try to determine how much of the substance your cat has been in contact with and what type of substance caused the burn. Additionally, look for symptoms of poisoning, as most of these chemicals can be deadly to cats.


Mechanical Burns

Finally, mechanical burns are much less common in cats than in humans. This type of burn is still a potential problem for cats in specific instances, but it is not a likely cause of feline burns. Mechanical burns happen when friction causes damage to the skin, like in instances of rug burns.

A cat may experience a mechanical burn if he’s been playing roughly or fighting with another cat in the home. Additionally, if you walk your cat, there is a slight risk that he could experience a mechanical burn from a harness or collar.


First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns are also referred to as superficial burns and only affect the outer part of the skin. These are the least painful and least harmful type of burn your cat may experience. If your cat does have a first-degree burn, it is likely to get better within a week on its own.

First-degree burns can include symptoms like pain, tenderness, redness, and inflammation. As they heal, they may crust or flake. Additionally, if your cat has a first-degree sunburn, he may peel like a human does following this type of burn. Your cat probably does not need to see an emergency vet for this type of burn.


Second-Degree Burns

A second-degree burn affects the first two layers of skin. It goes deeper than a first-degree burn and can potentially be more dangerous, too. These types of burns hurt quite a bit and can risk infection if they are left untreated for too long. They are also known as partial-thickness burns.

Symptoms of second-degree burns include redness, pain, swelling, and blistering. When the blisters run their course, they typically “pop” or drain and then peel away. The sores left by these blisters may cause infections or scarring in some instances.



Third-Degree Burns

Finally, a third-degree burn is the most serious type of burn your cat may experience. These burns are also called full-thickness burns because they involve the entirety of the skin and all of its layers. This is the type of burn that may occur when a cat is involved in a house fire, for example; it is always an emergency.

Third-degree burns cause dead tissue, which can become severely infected if left untreated. This type of burn is typically treated through surgery and skin grafting, and it is not to be taken lightly. If your cat experiences a third-degree burn, go to the emergency vet right away.




Burns are always a cause for concern. Whether your cat seems to be in a lot of pain from a burn or not, it is important to keep a close eye on the burn for any signs that it is getting serious. If you have any reason to be worried—or if you’re just unsure and want a medical opinion—don’t wait to go to the vet or emergency vet.

In the case of a serious burn, an emergency vet visit may be the best choice. Otherwise, however, seeing your cat’s regular vet in the next day or two following the burn may work as well.

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