5 First Aid Tips Every Cat Owner Needs to Know

Tips Every Cat Owner Needs to Know

Cats are some of the most low-maintenance pets out there, especially with their often independent personalities and unique grooming capabilities. However, because cats are so mobile and agile, a lot can happen unexpectedly – at home or when they’re outside (especially for cats who are part-time outdoors). Accidents and emergencies may happen and they might need quick thinking on your part to save your pet. To help equip you with the best information to give your cats the best emergency care at home, we’ve compiled essential first aid tips that every cat owner needs to keep at the back of their minds.

What Are the Most Common Cat Injuries That Can Happen to Your Pet?

For cat owners, there’s one truth that we all can agree on – cat activities are extremely hard to control. Cats, regardless of their breed or age, are extremely nimble and can jump onto your highest shelves or squeeze into the smallest crevices between furniture and appliances. While these antics are entertaining to watch, they also expose them to a lot of potential injuries and accidents – especially when their nimbleness is paired with their almost endless curiosity. Some of the most common cat injuries that your pet may suffer from include the following:

  • Insect Bites or Stings
  • Poisoning
  • Animal Bites or Scratches
  • Eye Damage
  • Bone Fractures
  • Abscesses
  • Heat Stroke
  • Choking

Important Cat First Aid Tips to Remember

Cats are delicate creatures, and even the most attentive pet parent can’t always prevent them from getting hurt. That’s why it’s important to know how to administer first aid to your feline friend in case of an emergency. In a medical emergency, it’s important to respond quickly and effectively. Here’s a simple guide for how to act quickly and easily in an emergency when it comes to your cat. 

  • Remain calm when approaching a potentially injured cat. Cats are very sensitive and reactive to your emotions, more so when they’re in pain. Injured cats typically go into hiding, so they may become hostile around strangers. One thing that you need to remember before administering first aid is to stay as composed and calm as you possibly can while you’re assessing the situation. Avoid making loud noises or big movements that may cause the cat to become wary or frightened.
  • Learn how to do CPR on an unresponsive cat. If your cat is not breathing, the best option is to perform CPR to restart their heartbeat and stimulate their lungs to breathe again. To perform successful CPR on felines, here’s a step-by-step guide:
  1. Check the cat’s pulse and breathing. Check the cat’s pulse and observe the rise and fall of their chest. If you see any abnormalities, prepare the cat for immediate CPR. Remove any possible obstructions inside the cat’s mouth or airway.
  2. Lay the cat flat on its side. If your cat is not lying on its side, carefully position their body on a flat surface. Remove any materials or things within the area that may interfere with CPR.
  3. Begin chest compressions. Using the heel of your hand, place one hand over your cat’s chest and do 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute. Note that each compression should be about one-third of the cat’s chest width.
  4. Give the cat rescue breaths. After 30 chest compressions, blow into the cat’s nose and mouth for one second. Repeat these rescue breaths every three seconds.
  5. Continue chest compressions. After giving the cat rescue breaths and no change in breathing or heart rate is observed, continue chest compressions until you see movement. 
  6. Seek emergency veterinary care. Once the cat gets a roughly normal breathing and heart rate, immediately seek veterinary care and have animal care professionals examine your pet for any possible problems and complications.
  • Learn how to do the Heimlich Maneuver on cats. As mentioned in the previous section, one of the most common emergencies that happen to cats is accidental choking. Because of their curiosity, cats may bite or chew on materials that may accidentally get lodged in their airway. This is where the Heimlich Maneuver takes center stage. This technique can easily dislodge materials from their airway and help your cat resume breathing. To perform this technique, follow these steps:
  1. Hold your cat against your chest with her feet hanging down.
  2. Place your hands in the middle of her chest and belly.
  3. Perform three quick successive upward movements with your hands.
  • Stop any bleeding. If your cat has bleeding, the first step you need to do is to put pressure on the affected area. Apply pressure with a clean, absorbent cloth on the wound. Elevate the part if possible to lower blood pressure in the affected body part. Once the bleeding slows down or stops, clean the surrounding area with povidone-iodine, and be ready to transport your cat to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic.
  • Call the vet immediately. In every emergency, you should contact your vet right away, even if you can’t take your cat in immediately. If your cat needs immediate at-home emergency care, delegate a family member or a housemate who can contact the veterinary clinic for you. Describe the situation to the professionals and they will be able to tell you what to do next.
  • Transport your cat carefully and safely. Gently place your cat in a secure carrier and make sure the carrier lid is secured with a bungee cord. If you don’t have a carrier, you can always place your cat in a blanket.

15 Things To Include in a Cat First Aid Kit

It’s essential to have a first aid kit for cats in case of an emergency. Kits are now readily available on local vet clinics or shops that are selling pets online. When you prepare your cat’s first aid kit, make sure that it contains the following items: 

  • Gauze bandages
  • Non-latex gloves
  • Cotton swabs
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Povidone Iodine
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Medical tape
  • Bandage scissors
  • Clean towels
  • Reusable heat/cold pack
  • Blood clotting powder
  • Splints
  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Elizabethan Collar

When it comes to dealing with pet emergencies, a clear mind is what’s most important. You need to know how to address an injury and what steps will need to be taken to increase your pet’s chances of survival – especially for dangerous accidents. These are just some of the most important first aid tips that you will need to ensure your cat’s safety at all times. We suggest working with your veterinarian so that you can further personalize your emergency approaches to be more specific to your cat’s individual needs.

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About the Author: Cathy Prater