The Ugly Scab 

D. E. Larsen, DVM

Ed carried Cabby into the clinic, holding him like a fragile package. Cabby was a young male orange tabby cat. He was not neutered, and Ed always brought him on a small leash.

“Ed, one of these days, a dog is going to come through the door when you’re sitting there with Cabby, and Cabby is going end up sitting on top of your head,” Sandy said. “It would be safer if you brought him in a kennel, for him and for you.

“I knew you would scold me again,” Ed said. “But Cabby is pretty sore right now, and I didn’t want to try putting him in that kennel.”

“Let me get Terri, and we will get you into an exam room,” Sandy said as she headed into the back of the clinic to find Terri.

“Terri, Ed is out front with Cabby,” Sandy said. “He is holding that cat on his lap again. One of these times, we are going to have a royal mess. If you have a minute, you might move him into an exam room before we have a dog come into the waiting room.”

“That is probably the only way he will learn to put that cat in the kennel,” Terri said. “I will be right there, but Doc is tied up for a few minutes. I guess it is better that he waits in an exam room.

Terri went up front, helped Ed back to an exam room, and made Cabby comfortable on the exam table.

“What’s going on with Cabby today?” Terri asked.

“He has this wound on his side,” Ed said. “It has been there for several days, and now it has a good scab covering it, but he is pretty sore today. I just thought that I would get Doc to look him over.”

“That’s a pretty large scab,” Terri said as she took Cabby’s temperature.

“Yes, I was worried about the wound, but I feel a lot better now that it is covered with that scab,” Ed said.

“Cabby’s temperature is almost a hundred and three,” Terri said. “I want to warn you, Ed. Don’t get too attached to that scab because the first thing that Doc will do when he comes in here is pluck that scab off of Cabby. He is probably going to do that before saying a word.”

“Why do you think he would do something like that?” Ed asked.

“I have worked here for half a dozen years,” Terri said. “And I can guarantee that Doc will get rid of that scab first thing. If there is anything that he hates, it’s a scab.”

“What if I don’t want that scab gone?” Ed asked.

“Then you better leave now,” Terri said. “I am sure that Doc won’t treat Cabby with that scab there.”

I entered the exam and looked at Ed. Terri was holding Cabby on the exam table.

“How’s it going, Ed?” I asked. “And what is up with Cabby?”

I looked at the exam sheet and turned Cabby around on the exam table to get a good look at his wound.

“He has a good scab on that wound,” Ed said.

I palpated the skin around the scab. Cabby cringed somewhat from my touch, but there was no big abscess evident.

“Wrong, Ed, the word is had a good scab,” I said as I plucked the scab off the wound. A small amount of pus rolled down Cabby’s side, and I mopped it up with a couple of surgical sponges.

“You see all that pus, Ed,” I said. “That good scab was just trapping that in the wound. That is why Cabby’s temperature is up, and he is not feeling well. We will clean the wound, shave the hair away from the wound edge, and get him on some antibiotics. He will feel much better by this evening.”

“I misled you, Ed,” Terri said with a wry smile. “He did talk before he plucked the scab.

“Terri said you were going to pull that scab off,” Ed said. “I always thought a scab was a good thing.”

“I leave very few scabs in place,” I said. “All they do is hide what is going on under them. And, like in this case, they trap pus against the wound. Another couple of days, Cabby would have had a big abscess on his side.”

“I guess with some antibiotics, Cabby and I are free to go,” Ed said. “Now I just have to get past Sandy without getting chewed out again.”

“Don’t be too hard on her,” I said. “She has your best interest at heart. Have you ever noticed one of those scratching posts that cats use?”

“Yes, Cabby has one at home,” Ed said. “He shreds one of those things in no time.”

“Well, that’s what your chest and head are going to look like if a dog comes in and scares Cabby while you are holding him on your lap,” Terri said. “If you want, I can get you a box to put him in for the ride home. It might be good practice, just to see how he likes it. I think cats usually like to be in a secure place when they are traveling.”

“How much do those cost?” Ed asked.

“I’ll give you this one,” Terri said. “Of course, Doc might pad the bill a few bucks. They are not expensive.

Ed took the box, and Cabby had no problems getting in it. He stopped at the front desk and paid the bill. Sandy noticed the box.

“I see Terri gave you a box for Cabby,” Sandy said. “He will be much safer in that box, and so will you.” 

As Ed picked up Cabby’s box carrier and started out the door, he met George coming in with his young German Shepherd, Rascal.

Rascal sniffed the box, and Cabby hissed loudly. Ed looked at Sandy and smiled.

“Tell Terri thank you,” Ed said as he hurried out the door.

Photo by Jb Jorge Barreto on Pexels.

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

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