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Danger for free passers: Beware of awns!


When a cat strolls through meadows and forests as a free-litter, it is exposed to some dangers. Slightly underestimated: awns. The pointed parts of ears of grass or corn are small but nasty. You can find out why in the following. The pointed needles on the ears, so-called awns, can be dangerous - Shutterstock / Maria Timofeeva

What are awns exactly? These are small, fine ear parts that are very pointed and barbed. If a cat walks through a cornfield or through a meadow with tall grass, the awns can get caught in the fur, paw, ear, eye or nose.

Why awns are dangerous for free-fallers

Awns have very fine, invisible barbs, which make it difficult for your cat to simply shake off the annoying foreign bodies or brush them away. If she tries, the worst-case parts will penetrate even deeper into the skin, nose, ear or eye. The spot can then ignite there.

It is very painful for the cat. In addition, the awn is not so easy to remove - often the veterinarian has to remove the foreign body surgically and thoroughly disinfect and treat the wound.

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If you suspect a veterinarian

If your free-faller behaves strangely after his excursion, licks his paw for hours, closes an eye or shakes his head, awns can be the cause.

If you suspect that an awn has already drilled too far into the skin or in a place that is difficult to access, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended. Otherwise there is a risk that the ear part will penetrate further if your cat tries to get it out.

The veterinarian has the experience and equipment to find and remove the foreign body as gently as possible. In addition, he can then properly treat the wound so that it will hopefully heal quickly.

How can I protect my cat from awns?

But what can you do to prevent your cat from catching awns on one of its trips? The easiest thing would of course be to transform your freelancer into a house cat. But that would be a very big change for your cat.

So it is best to always search the fur of your velvet paw for awns when it comes home from your trip. This is especially true if you live near large grain fields. This allows you to remove the foreign bodies before they penetrate your pet's skin or sensory organs.