First Aid for Cats: What to Do in an Emergency

Cats literally have nine lives, so, thanks to their physique and agility, they are quite “robust” animals. But kitties can also get injured. Often all that is needed is a tilted window, which indoor cats in particular often use to “gasp” in order to cause dangerous injuries. In the kitchen, too, your house tiger gets injured faster than you would like. Just one sentence on the stove is enough while you are cooking. As soon as the kitty burns her paws, you usually cannot react at all. But what do you do if there is a medical emergency?

First Aid, Yes, But Then to the Vet as Soon as Possible

Just like in humans, burn wounds can be treated first with ice packs, cold water, or cold packs. It is recommended to rinse the dripped area for a good 10 to 20 minutes with cold water and cover open burns with sterile gauze bandages or fresh towels. Burn ointment should not be applied. After that, the cat should definitely see the vet, as even small burns can cause shock.

Even if the kitty has eaten something that could be poisonous (e.g. gnawed on indoor plants) or has an eye injury, the doctor should always be consulted as soon as possible. You can do the first aid yourself with a well-equipped emergency pharmacy (e.g. cover open wounds). But before injuries become infected or, in the worst case, the shock leads to the death of the cat, you should leave everything else to the expert.

First Aid in Cats: Shortness of Breath & Cardiac Arrest

In humans, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is usually used after accidents or when there is shortness of breath; in the animal world – at least for cats – there is mouth-to-nose resuscitation.

If you have stopped breathing, you should first open your mouth and pull out your tongue slightly – if there are foreign bodies or vomit in the throat, they must be removed so that the airways are free. If the animal is unconscious and needs ventilation, close its mouth with your hand and slightly stretch the animal’s neck. It is best to be assisted by someone who also holds the cat’s head carefully. Then fold your hands to the funnel and blow air into your nose every three seconds. But please don’t blow too hard. The cat’s chest should rise slightly as you do this.

In the case of cardiac arrest (always check the side chest and the pulse on the inside of the thigh!) You have to do a heart massage. To do this, place your left-hand flat on the animal’s chest (at the level of the elbow joint) and press in quick succession about five to ten times with two fingers of your right hand on your left. Then the animal should be ventilated mouth-to-nose twice before you can check the heartbeat again.

Emergency Pharmacy for Cats

Just as it does for us humans, it makes sense to get a first aid kit for cats. You can either get it from well-stocked specialist shops, from your vet, or you can put it together yourself. Here you can find out what everything should be in the emergency pharmacy.

However, you should never try to play the vet and simply want to save costs – the first aid kit is only used for emergencies and does not replace a visit to Uncle Doc!

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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