Our guide to cat first aid will cover the most likely accidents and ailments, but as a rule of thumb if your cat is acting out of sorts or is clearly in pain take them to see a vet.External Bleeding:
When cats are given the freedom to roam around there is always the chance that they could get injured by another animal, from a misjudged jump, or one of many other possibilities. When a cat has a bleeding wound it will be understandably be stressed and jumpy, so make sure you approach it slowly and try your best to keep it calm.
If possible, position the animal so that the bleeding area is raised, or facing upwards, and apply pressure with gauze, a clean cloth or tissue, leaving it in place for at least ten minutes or until the cat makes it apparent that it is not happy to be receiving your help. Remember as the administer of first aid your primary responsibility is to your own safety and health.
If the blood persistently soaks through the gauze, tissue, etc., is clearly not slowing or stopping, or you can tell from the offset that the wound is seriously deep, seek veterinary assistance at once. The same goes if the bleeding wound is located near the cat's eyes.Internal Bleeding:
If your cat is bleeding internally there will be no outwardly visible sign and if left unchecked it can be fatal, so you must be vigilant. Internal bleeding can be caused by anything from a bad fall, to accidentally being kicked, to having a run in with a car; and though they may not initially appear harmed their symptoms may not appear until later.
Symptoms of internal bleeding include:
- Cool extremities (legs, tail, etc.)
- Distended, swollen stomachs
- Coughing up blood
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Constant panting
- Pale gums
If any of these symptoms present themselves take your cat to the vet immediately, unless it has been hit by car in which case don't even wait to see if the symptoms develop before visiting the vet.Broken Bone:
Giving your cat first aid is about preventing a bad situation from becoming worse, which is exactly what will happen if you attempt to splint or re-set a broken bone yourself. Irrelevant of whether your cat has an open or closed fracture, your only act of recourse should be to quickly, calmly and safely transport your cat to the vet whilst offering as much support to the affected area as possible.
If there is any bleeding you can cover the wound with gauze or a clean towel, but do not try to clean the wound.Burns:
Even cats who are familiar with you may lash out when in pain, and this is never more true than when they have been burned. Burns can be caused by anything from exposure to heat (open flames, scalding hot water, etc.), chemicals (bleach, disinfectant, etc.) or even exposed electrical conduits; and depending on which of these is the cause, you should carry out the following cat first aid procedures before, or whilst, you're contacting the vet.
- Flames – Extinguish the fire, remove the cat from harm's way, and apply cold water or a cold compress
- Scalding water – Apply cold water over the spillage area to ensure you do not burn yourself, then get your cat to a safe, dry area and apply cold water or a cold compress
- Exposed electrics – Isolate the exposure and turn off the power supply to the area (either from the wall plug or the fuse box if you cannot easily access the plug), take your cat to a familiar, safe place and apply cold water or a cold compress
- Chemical burns – Expose the burned area to excessive amounts of room temperature (or as close as) running water for at least 15 minutes. Clean up the spillage.
Though you may be tempted to, do not apply ice to the burned area and avoid using any ointments, balms or remedies that you would give to a human if they were burned, unless told to do so by a vet.Heat Stroke Like humans, if a cat's internal body temperature rises more than a couple of degrees above normal it will become hyperthermic and may suffer from what is commonly known as heat stroke. The symptoms of heat stroke include dizziness, lethargy, fatigue, irritability, panting, excess dribbling, and fainting, and should any of these happen on an especially hot, sunny day the first thing you should do is take your cat and place it in a cool shaded area.
It is alright to moisten your cat's coat with cool water, but under no circumstances should you dunk it into a bath of cold/ice water in an attempt to lower its body temperature (as this will negatively affect its breathing and could cause it to go into shock). Even if your cat starts to show signs of recovery, seek veterinary attention.Part two of our guide to cat first aid will follow shortly, and will cover what to do in the event that your cat is choking, ingests a poisonous substance, suffers from seizures, and more.