Over-the-counter antibiotic ointments are used to treat skin infections and protect wounds from potential infection. In the event of a cut, bite, burn, or rash, at-home treatment can save your cat the additional stress of a trip to the vent while saving you the cost of a medical visit.
Yes, you can use certain human antibiotic ointments on your cat. We’ll explore some of the most common human antibiotic ointments and discuss whether they’re safe to use on a cat.
We also explore natural alternatives that are lickable and cat-safe.
Antibiotic Ointment For Felines
If your feline has a wound, the safest option is to contact their veterinarian. Your vet can provide advice regarding which antibiotic ointment they think is best for your kitty. They may even prescribe a medicine specifically designed for felines.
If you use an over-the-counter ointment designed for humans on your cat, remember to ensure your cat can’t lick the area. Use an Elizabethan collar, gauze, or another deterrent to block your cat’s access.
Is Neosporin Safe For Cats?
Neosporin is a triple antibiotic ointment made by Johnson & Johnson. It includes three different antibiotics: neomycin, bacitracin, and polymyxin B. The ointment treats minor wounds like cuts, scrapes, and light burns. The Neosporin line also includes products to soothe pain and minimize the appearance of scars.
According to Neosporin’s website, this product is not recommended for animal use. The Pet Poison Helpline classifies Neosporin and all three antibiotics featured in the formula as toxic to pets. Ingestion of Neosporin could result in mild to severe side effects, from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures and death.
Is Neomycin Safe For Cats?
Neomycin is one of the three antibiotics found in Neosporin. Some felines have a mild to severe allergic sensitivity to neomycin. Mild reactions include scratching or irritation at the application site; however, a severe reaction like anaphylaxis may also occur. Research shows that such responses are less likely when neomycin is combined with a steroid, which is why you will see the majority of veterinary medications containing both (Animax, Entederm, and Tresaderm). Because of the adverse reactions possible with neomycin, it is best to use the antibiotic under a vet’s supervision.
Is Bacitracin Safe For Cats?
Bacitracin is another antibiotic used in Neosporin. You can also purchase bacitracin as a single ointment. Bacitracin is safe for cats if they don’t ingest the ointment. If you wish to use bacitracin on your pet, use an Elizabethan collar or recovery suit to stop your cat from licking the balm.
Is Polymyxin B Safe For Cats?
Cats may experience an allergic reaction when using polymyxin B. Polymyxin B has even been linked to anaphylaxis and death in cats. Most of these cases have been related to ophthalmic products to treat eye infections, but your cat may still experience an adverse reaction to polymyxin B ointment.
Polysporin is another over-the-counter first aid antibiotic ointment made by Johnson & Johnson. This product is a double antibiotic featuring both bacitracin and polymyxin B. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, Polysporin is safe to use on your cat and can be helpful when treating burns. Cover the ointment with gauze to prevent your cat from licking the product away.
Natural Neosporin Alternatives For Cats
Most veterinary practitioners are limited in their treatments, only offering mainstream drugs, even when alternative remedies are proven effective. Save yourself a trip to the vet and use one of these natural alternatives for skin conditions. You might already have a few of these remedies in your medicine cabinet. Alternative treatments allow your pet to heal holistically—addressing not just the symptoms of an ailment but your furry friend’s overall wellbeing.
Herbs, homeopathics, and nutritional supplements offer a long list of benefits. Aside from being natural and free from toxic chemicals, most cause no adverse reactions, side effects, or allergies. They are also often cheaper to buy, gentle in function, and without long-lasting damage like antibiotics and other drugs can cause.
Remember that positive effects may require several weeks of treatment before results are seen. Otherwise, allow around six to eight weeks for full recovery, depending on the condition. Consult your veterinarian if your pet’s skin condition is severe or worsening. This ensures that a proper diagnosis is found and appropriate treatment is used.
Aloe vera has been historically used for its healing properties. The plant functions as an antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory agent. It promotes healing and improves immunity.
Use aloe vera topically on:
- Irritations (bites, stings, or itchy, red skin caused by allergies)
If you have an aloe vera plant at home, split over the leaf and scoop out the clear gel inside. Avoid using the yellowish sap found in the whole rind, which contains mildly toxic saponins when taken orally to cats and could cause cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting if your cat were to lick their skin and ingest it.
You can also use a commercially available gel or cream. There are many pet-specific aloe vera products, including:
- NatureVet Aller-911 Allergy Aid Paw Spray contains comfrey, aloe vera, and calendula to soothe and heal skin wounds and irritation. The additional bittering agent prevents your pet from licking off the solution and further irritating the skin. If your cat still licks this product, you will need to use a cone (ingesting comfrey is linked to liver damage).
- Petpost Ear Wipes with aloe vera relieve ear infection symptoms and prevent ear mites and future infections.
- Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo is a soap-free shampoo containing 3% colloidal oatmeal and organic aloe vera to soothe dry, scratched skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar has many health benefits when taken orally or applied topically to the skin or fur. Quality apple cider vinegar should look cloudy and have stringy, gelatinous pieces floating in it, referred to as “the mother.” The mother consists of dozens of strains of beneficial bacteria, also called probiotics. Apple cider vinegar also contains acetic acid, known for its antimicrobial properties.
Apple cider vinegar is helpful for:
- Ear cleaning
- Infections (bacterial and fungal)
- Repelling fleas, ticks, and insects
- Skin irritations (hot pots, rash, etc.)
For topical use, dilute apple cider vinegar 1:1 with water. Apply with cotton up to twice per day. You can also use the dilution in a spray bottle or wipe your pet down with a cloth. Never apply apple cider vinegar to wounds. It will sting if used on cuts or broken skin.
You may also wish to use apple cider vinegar orally for your cat, thanks to its ability to improve digestion, repel parasites, and treat bladder infections. Mix ¼ teaspoon with your cat’s usual wet food or a broth.
Not a DIY fan? Pick any of these commercial cat products that contain apple cider vinegar:
- Frisco Hot Spot Relief Wipes soothe skin and relieve irritation from hot spots, dermatitis, and other skin conditions in felines thanks to a blend of apple cider vinegar, grapefruit seed extract, and colloidal oatmeal.
- Primal Pet Foods Chicken & Salmon Freeze-Dried Nuggets contain organic apple cider vinegar for healing from the inside out.
- PetPotion Waterless Spray Shampoo in Balance uses apple cider vinegar to treat dry, oily, or yeasty skin.
For kitties with wounds, bruising, or pain, consider arnica (arnica montana). Arnica is a homeopathic remedy well known for treating aches, bruises, and pain. Keep in mind that you should never use arnica montana on broken skin
Homeopathic medicines are generally very safe for humans and pets due to their highly diluted state. This medical system is based on the theory that “like cures like.” In other words, these remedies trigger the body’s natural defenses, encouraging the body to heal itself.
Homeopathic medicine is a vast area of study that requires precise treatment, so it’s best to purchase a ready-made formula:
- Apply Nelsons Arnicare cream to the skin to relieve bruising and pain.
- Newton Homeopathics makes various homeopathic pet formulas, including arnica: Flea~Bug Bites, Inflammation, Injury~Rescue, and Rheumatic~Joint Care.
Calendula officinalis is an herb used to clear rashes in the skin and promote wound healing. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and minor antiseptic.
Use calendula topically on:
- Inflamed skin
- Insect bites
Make a wash or salve using dried calendula. Mix three tablespoons of dried calendula in one cup of boiling water for an easy wash. After allowing it to cool, strain the water and place the strained liquid in a spray bottle. Apply liberally to relieve itchy, inflamed skin.
Calendula is also available for purchase as a tincture or cream. Make sure to check that all of the ingredients are cat-safe.
Here are some great pet products that feature calendula:
- This small-batch, all-purpose healing salve by LeeHouse features 100 percent organic, lickable ingredients to treat bacterial infections, burns, dermatitis, hot spots, scratches, and other wounds.
- NaturePet’s ear drops feature calendula, vitamin E, and aloe vera for an itch and redness remedy for your cat’s delicate ears.
- Healthy Paw Life Hot Spot & Itch Relief lotion spray uses calendula oil, sulfur, and aloe vera to relieve itchiness. Keep in mind that this product uses sulfur, so it will be a bit stinky. (Sulfur does offer many skin benefits, including treatment for scabies and dermatitis.)
Colloidal Silver is refined silver stabilized in a liquid, gel, or cream. People use colloidal silver to support immune function or as a topical antimicrobial.
Use colloidal silver to treat:
- Ear infections
- Eye infections
- Skin infections (bacterial and fungal)
Select a topical or oral colloidal silver based on your cat’s needs. We share more about colloidal silver application via our article Colloidal Silver For Cats.
Here are some quality colloidal silver options for your pet:
- Sovereign Silver Pets Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol
- Sovereign Silver Pets First Aid Gel
- Silver Biotics Pet Vet Antibacterial First Aid Gel
Produced in New Zealand (if it’s not from New Zealand, it’s not Manuka honey) by bees pollinating the Manuka bush, Manuka honey is praised for its antiseptic and healing properties. Manuka honey is an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic (pain relieving) agent.
It is helpful for:
- Fungal infections
Look for the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) or Methylglyoxal (MGO) rating, representing the amount of methylglyoxal in the product. A naturally occurring compound in Manuka honey, methylglyoxal acts as the main source of the honey’s antibacterial and antioxidant properties. The higher the rating, the more therapeutic benefit it will provide. Learn more about Manuka honey via New Zealand Honey Co.
While pet-specific honey products are on the market, purchasing a high-quality Manuka honey with the UMF or MGO rating will likely yield better results. This ensures you’re buying an authentic, medical-grade honey.
- For daily use, try Manuka Health UMF 13+/MGO 400+ Manuka honey.
- Try Manukora UMF 20+/MGO 850+ Manuka honey for extra care for minor conditions.
- Use New Zealand Honey Co. 24+/MGO 1122+ Manuka honey for ultimate care when treating more severe conditions.
Neem comes from the harvested from the leaves, bark, and oil of the neem tree. Ayurvedic medicine has used neem as a natural remedy for centuries. Use neem to repel fleas, ticks, and mites. It promotes a shiny coat and healthy skin. Neem is excellent for treating itchy, dry skin. It is especially helpful for those kitties with allergies who won’t stop biting and scratching their skin.
Neem liquid extracts are commercially available, and you can also find pet-specific products featuring neem:
- Wondercide Skin Tonic relieves irritation caused by allergies, bug bites, burns, hot spots, rashes, and more.
- Ark Naturals Neem Protect Shampoo cleans and moisturizes without removing your cat’s natural oils.
- Handcrafted Blissful Cat BooBoo Butter is packed with ingredients to help soothe your cat’s skin. Use for cuts, fungal issues, itchy skin, rashes, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Antibiotics Are Used For Cat Wounds?
The type of antibiotic used for a wound will differ based on the injury and your vet’s recommendation. Your vet may prescribe a topical powder, ointment, or oral antibiotic.
What Should I Do If My Cat Gets Bit By Another Cat?
It’s always a good idea to seek medical attention if your cat’s been in a fight with another cat. Felines have lots of bacteria in their mouths, and these bacteria could cause an abscess or infection without proper care. Your vet can thoroughly check your cat, cleaning the bite wounds and addressing any other issues discovered.
Can I Put Vaseline On My Cat’s Wound?
Yes, Vaseline is safe to use on felines. Consider using a cone to prevent your cat from licking the injury.
Can you put Neosporin on a cat? With a wide variety of cat-safe alternatives, we see no reason to apply Neosporin to your cat’s skin.
Looking for other ways to boost your cat’s immune system or overall wellbeing? Good health starts with a quality diet. We review popular cat food, including Weruva, Smalls, Purina One, and Orijen. Next, explore ways to keep your cat active. View our picks for cat steps, exercise wheels, and cat toys. Finally, consider supplements like CBD and dental treats for additional wellness support.