First Aid - accidents and emergency, fractures, drowning
You probably will never need to give your cat artificial respiration, but if your cat suffers a severe electric shock, or if she goes into shock as a result of a traumatic injury, knowing these techniques can literally mean the diffreence between life and death.
Artificial respiration (AR)
Before you start artificial respiration, check if the cat has a heartbeat. To do this place two fingers on the central lower chest, just below the ribcage and press lightly. Only move the cat if it is essential.
If the cat is not breathing you will need to perform artificial respiration. Follow the steps below:
- If the cat wears a collar - remove it.
- Check for any blockage in the throat and wipe away any blood or saliva
- Turn the cat on her side
- If you have a syringe, take the plunger out and put the wide part of the syringe over the cat's nose
- With one hand lift the chin up so the mouth is closed
- Blow into the syringe till you see the chest moving up. If you don't have a syringe, take a deep breath, and blow directly into cat's nostrils (you will need to blow quite hard).
- Repeat the process every five seconds for a minute then stop and check if the cat can breathe by herself. If not continue as before.
- Get veterinary help asap
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
This can be difficult to perform because of the cat's small size.
- Lay the cat on her right side and place your hand over the cat's chest
- Press the chest down (the chest should go down about 2 cm). Do not press too hard because you can damage the internal organs
- Apply the pressure approximately once a second for half a minute and stop and watch the chest to see if the heart has restarted.
- If not, carry out artificial respiration for about 1 min and repeat cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
- Seek veterinary help asap.
Sadly, road accidents involving cats happen quite often because cats are very stupid when it comes to traffic. Road accidents happen more often at night so the best thing to protect you cat is to keep her at home over this time.
If you see a cat lying on the road, first think about your own safety - apart from anything else, if you get hurt, you will take up all the aid resources in the vicinity, leaving the cat even worse off. Get someone else to stop the traffic while you move the cat from the road and out of further danger. Remember that the cat is likely to have serious injuries, so you need to be very gentle. Slide the cat on a cloth, piece of cardboard or a hard plank if you can get one and pull it gently off the road. If you have not got anything to hand and you have to carry the animal, be as gentle as possible. The cat may have fractures including damage to the spine so any movement can make things worse.
Remember that in a cat's view of the world, being injured invites further attack, so an injured cat is highly defensive. Remember also that if you appear excited or distressed this will agitate the cat even further. If the cat shows any sign of agression, crouch down, speak softly and calmly, and do not look the cat directly in the eyes.
If the cat is unconscious perform AR or CPR as appropriate. If she is conscious she will probably be in shock (rapid breathing, pale to white gums, rapid heart beat). Try to gently restrain her and calm her down. Check for any bleeding, and if there is any carry procedures described in the article "First Aid - cuts, bites and burns".
Finally check for fractures. Keep the cat warm by putting the blanket or cloth over her and get medical help asap.
Fractures are often best left alone because any movement can aggravate the damage. If the fracture is to a limb, and you have a newspaper or a magazine with you, try rolling it and putting it around the limb to provide support. Don't try to bandage it. If you expect broken ribs, use anything you can and wrap it around the whole chest - do not wrap too tightly as you risk driving a rib into the cat's lungs. Get the cat to the vet asap.
Never jump after a cat into deep water, and only attempt rescue if it is safe to do so. Also, don't assume that a cat will automatically drown if it lands in deep water. Many cats are actually quite good swimmers and might be perfectly capable of getting themselves to safety. If you have cats and a home swimming pool, make sure there is some way for a cat that has fallen into the pool to climb out. If the cat has been under water for any length of time, or is unconscious, remove it completely from the water and remove any foreign bodies from her mouth. Hold the cat upside down by the hind legs and gently move from side to side to drain all the water from her lungs. If the cat is not breathing perform AR or CPR as appropriate. Take it to the vet asap. Even if the cat seems to have recovered, still see the vet because complications afterwards are common.
Note: This information is for guidance only. It is not intended to replace consultation with a licensed practitioner.