Can I Put Neosporin On My Cat?

Cat in a Bath Towel

If you notice that your cat has a minor injury like a cut or a scrape, the first thing you might think of is to treat them with the medical supplies you would use if you had the same injury. However, doing so could cause more harm than good. There are specific methods for dressing your cat’s wounds. In this article, we will explain why you shouldn’t use Neosporin on your cat’s scrapes.

While you may have good intentions, self-medicating your furry friend can be dangerous. Vets recommend you not use human medications or ointments like Neosporin to treat your cat’s wounds. Though Neosporin may be harmless to humans, it can be deadly for some cats because, as we are two different species, different things are toxic to us. 

Read on to find out why Neosporin isn’t safe for cats and how self-medicating them, using human medications and ointments, can be dangerous. You can also learn how to properly tend a cat’s wounds as well as alternative antibiotics and natural remedies you can use in place of Neosporin, so your cat can stay happy and healthy.

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Is Neosporin Safe for Cats?

Cats have unique metabolisms and sensitive skin, which means that medicines and topical ointments that are safe for humans to use aren’t necessarily going to be safe for cats. Neosporin is one of these cases. Neosporin and other similar ointments contain the active ingredient Polymyxin B, which can cause anaphylaxis and even death in our feline companions.

In the United States, it is technically illegal to apply Neosporin to your cats’ wounds. According to the Food & Drug Administration, it’s prohibited you use any medication in a manner inconsistent with its labeling, and Neosporin isn’t labeled to be used on cats. These laws were made to ensure the safety of your animal. It is dangerous to self-medicate your cat; look below to find out why.

Why Self-Medicating Your Cat Is Dangerous

There is a scientific process that veterinarians must go through before diagnosing your pet and prescribing them medications, including a physical examination and laboratory work. Because you can’t do these procedures at home and aren’t a highly trained professional, self-medicating your cat can result in improper treatment, making their condition worse than it was beforehand.

When your cat has an injury that you are worried about, whether it appears critical or not, you should talk to their veterinarian to make sure everything is okay. If they believe that your cat needs any medications prescribed, they will write you the proper prescription. They will also instruct you how to care for and tend their wounds. Never use human medications on your pets.

Giving your cat the wrong medications can result in:

  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Liver damage or failure
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Red blood cell damage
  • Severe vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Death

Sources: Catster, Vetopia

How to Care for An Open Wound on A Cat

If your cat has an open wound, you should not apply any ointments, creams, disinfectants, or other chemicals on the injury unless you were instructed to do so by your veterinarian. When managing the wound, never use hydrogen peroxide, witch-hazel, or alcohol. Using these products can interfere with the healing process of your cat’s injury or damage the tissue.

How to care for an open wound on a cat:

  1. Stop the bleeding: Apply direct pressure onto your cat’s wound with dry gauze to absorb the blood. If you can, raise the wounded limb above the heart-level to reduce blood flow.
  2. Dress the wound: Cover the injury with a bandage material or a clean, dry cloth to prevent bacteria or contaminants from further affecting your cat’s wound.
  3. Go to a veterinarian clinic: Drive your cat to a clinic so they can be looked at by a professional, in case their injury is severe and needs to be surgically repaired or stitched closed.
  4. Manage the wound: Clean the injury with a mild antiseptic solution or warm water three times a day or however many times their veterinarian instructed you to do so. Replace their bandages daily.

Source: VCA Hospitals

Alternative Antibiotics

Though Neosporin is an antibiotic ointment that is safe for humans but not for cats, some antibiotics featured in this section are used in both veterinary medicine and human medicine. These topical and oral antibiotics are an alternative to using Neosporin that your cat’s veterinarian might prescribe to them if they have a wound to prevent and fight infections:


Penicillin is an antibiotic that fights a range of infections caused by both positive and negative bacteria. It is prescribed when your pet is suffering from a bacterial infection caused by an infected wound. Its forms are oral tablets, oral powder, oral liquid, and IV powder for injection.

Source: VCA Hospitals


Azithromycin is an antibiotic used to treat specific bacteria, as well as respiratory tract and dermatological infections. It is predominantly prescribed to cats and dogs because they absorb it best. Its forms are oral tablets, oral liquid, and injectable IV solution.

Source: Wedgewood Pharmacy


Cephalexin is an antibiotic that treats pyoderma and other bacterial skin infections in both cats and dogs. It can also treat urinary tract infections for the two species. Its forms are oral capsules, oral chewable tablets, oral liquid, and an oral paste.

Source: VCA Hospitals


Clindamycin is an antibiotic that fights a range of bacterial infections and treats wounds, abscesses, and bone and dental infections in both cats and dogs. It comes in the forms of oral tablets, oral capsules, and oral liquids.

Source: VCA Hospitals


Doxycycline is an antibiotic used to treat susceptible bacterial infections and other infections, Lyme disease, and the early stages of heartworm disease in both cats and dogs. It comes in the forms of oral tablets, oral capsules, oral liquids, and an injectable IV solution.

Source: Wedgewood Pharmacy


Enrofloxacin is an antibiotic that fights bacterial infections involving harmful bacteria strains called the Pseudomonas, including staph and skin infections. It is most commonly used in an oral tablet form for both cats and dogs.

Source: Marvista Vet

Topical Corticosteroids

Topical Corticosteroids are antibiotics that relieve your cat’s symptoms from both healthy and infected wounds, including inflammation and itching, to prevent them from scratching or biting the affected area and worsening their condition. Its forms are creams, lotions, ointments, and gels, much like Neosporin, but it is actually safe and intended for animal use.

Sources: The Nest, Entirely Pets

Alternative Natural Remedies

For less urgent ailments like dry skin or a rash, you won’t need to use topical or oral antibiotics to treat your cat unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian. Some people use Neosporin to combat dry skin or dermatitis on themselves, but this would make a cat’s condition worse if used on them. These natural remedies are effective alternatives to using Neosporin on cats:

Epsom Salts

Epsom salts are remarkably cheaper than antibiotics and more effective than Neosporin. Soaking your cat in an Epsom salt bath can treat minor wounds like scrapes and calm swelling if they are cooperative. It is best to use them for minor ailments with the okay from your cat’s veterinarian.


Chamomile tea is an ancient healing tea known for its antiseptic and medicinal properties. You can brew a strong pot of this tea, chill the liquid, and then fill a misting bottle or spray bottle with it to spray on your cat’s skin rashes. It will kill off yeast and bacteria that might worsen the problem areas and will calm irritation.


Oatmeal is a gentle calming agent that can be used on cats who have sensitive skin. Soaking your cat in a lukewarm bath with super fine, plain oatmeal can treat itchiness due to allergies or skin diseases and infections in cats. Plus, your cat is safe to drink the bath water if they so desire.

Source: Canna-Pet

Final Thoughts

It isn’t recommended to apply Neosporin to your cat. Not all cats may be allergic to Neosporin, but you shouldn’t chance it. Using a medicine inconsistent with its packaging is illegal, so applying Neosporin to cats could even result in legal trouble. There are safer and more effective alternatives to Neosporin you can use for your cats, like other antibiotics or natural remedies.