Should you let your cat lick its wounds?

Q: Our cat is a real fighter and keeps coming into the house with bites and scratches. He tends to clean them himself and isn’t keen for us to look at them. My mum says his saliva can kill bacteria, but I don’t believe it. Is this true?

A: No. A cat’s mouth harbours one of the highest concentrations of bacteria in existence, and is far more likely to cause an infection than to treat one. Of course, pets will groom themselves when injured, but you should always try to clean any wound with warm salty water if you can. If the skin is punctured, you will need to see your vet, as abscesses are a common condition in cats that get involved in local dust-ups.