First Aid - Introduction
Accidents do happen, and it is important that you know what to do when they do. Read this now. If your cat gets seriously hurt, you want to have this information already on hand. The first and most important thing is, how quickly can you contact a vet's clinic? In an emergency you should phone the vet immediately. Do you have that phone number at hand? The veterinary clinic will be able to advise you as to the best way to proceed but until the vet gets to you, or your cat is in a fit state to travel to the vet, you will probably need to carry out some first aid by yourself. It is therefore a good idea to keep a basic first aid kit at home.
- Adhesive plaster (in a roll)
- Bandages (2.5 cm and 5 cm wide)
- Gauze pads
- Cotton wool
- Curved blunt-ended scissors
- Absorbent paper towels
- A bottle of sterile water
- A warm blanket
Fist aid kit
In an emergency, remember that the cat will be under stress and is likely to bite or scratch. So take care when handling the patient (we have found motorbike gauntlets helpful in the past). If your cat does bite you, make sure that you get the wound seen to, since cat bites can easily set off an infection. When dealing with an injured cat don't make any sudden movements and make as little noise as possible. If the cat has been involved in an accident, first remove it to a safe place (e.g. out of the traffic, though make sure the road is safe, no matter how urgently you want to help). If a cat has been electrocuted, never approach, since it is likely that the power line is still live. Call the police and wait for their response. If the cat is electrocuted inside the house first switch off the electricity at the mains. (Even moving the cat off the power source with a dry wooden broom may not be completely safe.) Always think about your safety first.
Never give the cat human medicines since they can be very dangerous for the cat's different metabolism. For example, an aspirin will seriously poison your cat.
If the cat has breathing difficulties, especially if it is breathing with an open mouth, handle it very gently since this often indicates a serious internal injury.
If the cat is particularly restless and difficult to handle, you can use a blanket and gently wrap her in it before taking her to the vet.
When is the injury an emergency?
It is not difficult to determine that a cat lying on the road after being hit by a car is an emergency, but not all cases are that severe, and we often ask, does my cat qualify for emergency treatment? This is particularly relevant when we have to seek help outside normal working hours and have to rely on emergency clinics. The simple answer is; if there's doubt it's an emergency, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Remember, cats see showing pain and discomfort as a sign of weakness and vulnerability, and often sucessfully hide quite severe pain or injury, so if your cat is in evident distress, something may well be seriously wrong. When you phone your veterinary clinic outside working hours you will probably get a message with the contact details of an emergency vet.
Below is a list of symptoms which require veterinary advice:
- Your cat seems to be in severe pain or discomfort
- She has great difficulty breathing, or is unconscious
- She vomits repeatedly
- She is weak and has difficulty in getting up and walking
- She appears to be unbalanced
- She is straining to go to the toilet but is unable to produce anything. This may be due to a blocked bladder, which can be life threatening if not treated quickly.
- She appears to be in a shock (rapid breathing, pale or white gums, rapid heartbeat).
- She is bleeding profusely (bright red blood spurting vigorously suggests arterial bleeding).
Note: This information is for guidance only. It is not intended to replace consultation with a licensed practitioner.