First Aid Tips for Cats

When an emergency happens—whether a cut, burn or something worse—rushing out the door to the veterinarian might not be the first step you need to take to help your cat.

Be prepared.

CPR for pets is just as important as it is for any other family member. While 53% of cat people say they’d be willing to do mouth-to-mouth on a cat, most admit they don’t know how and don’t know where to learn.

The Red Cross offers first aid courses for pets.

You’ll find out to how to move an injured animal without being bitten, how to bandage a paw, or take his pulse. You won’t find any actual cats at the class, though—you’ll work with cat shaped mannequins.

If there’s no Red Cross class in your area, check training centers and boarding facilities. Many offer classes as an added benefit.

Have the phone number for Poison Control.

The more information you can give them, the better the advice you’ll get. There may be a charge for the call but often it will be less than a visit to the emergency veterinarian.

Know your vet’s hours.

If it’s after hours, does he refer you to another vet or the emergency hospital? Have the backup information in your cell phone and know how to get there. Call ahead if you need help getting Kitty from the car to the clinic. They can also clear the waiting room if your cat is howling in distress when you arrive.

Stay calm.

Animals react to your stress. If you’re freaking out, they’ll get nervous and jittery, too. In addition to staying as calm as possible, some lavender oil, just a couple of drops on your hands, will help calm both you and your cat. Cheryl Hoard of Cheryl’s Herbs in St. Louis, Missouri says, “I use lavender oil to slow bleeding. It’s great for burns too. Applied quickly enough, it can heal and reduce scarring.

Know your cat.

Check the color of his tongue and gums while he’s healthy so you can see the difference if there’s a problem. Pale gums and tongue are a sign of internal bleeding from an injury or poison.

Get your cat used to being handled.

Check his ears—black goo can mean ear mites, red puffy skin, an infection. If he’s pawing at his face, check inside his mouth. Animals get some odd stuff stuck in their mouths—one cat had a piece of potpourri stuck in the roof of his mouth. In a similar fashion, string or yarn can be dangerous since cat’s tongues are rough in order to move food one way—to the stomach, not out of his mouth.

Seizures can be scary to see.

If your cat is seizing, don’t pick him up—but do make sure he won’t fall off the bed or couch. Talk to him and gently keep him from thrashing too much. Time the seizure—how long did it last, how long did it take him to recover and was there only one? Keep track of how often it occurs. Most will last less than a minute although it feels much longer to the human involved. If it lasts longer than a couple of minutes, have the crate ready. When you get near the five minute mark or if there are multiple seizures, it’s definitely time to head for the vet’s office.

Most emergency veterinarians will have someone who can answer questions as you are working with the problem. You’re not alone. The more you know ahead of time, the better chance for a full and speedy recovery.

Meet the Author: Sandra Murphy

Sandra Murphy writes magazine articles about all kinds of animals, pets or exotics, marine life too, eco-friendly living and weird topics that catch her fancy. In her spare time, she writes fiction, mostly mysteries with a twist. With all the research, her browser history is intriguing to say the least. She lives in St. Louis with two bossy cats and Ozzie, a very tolerant dog.

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