First Aid Tips Every Cat Owner Should Know

First Aid Tips Every Cat Owner Should Know

May is Responsible Animal Guardian Month, and there’s no better time to remind cat parents that it’s our job to keep our pets as safe and protected as possible. Should your pet experience an emergency at home, it’s best to stay calm and be prepared, especially with a pet first aid kit handy. Unsure of how to perform first aid for your feline friend? This article will teach you how to create an at-home first aid kit for your kitty and how to respond to the most common cat emergencies.

How to Put Together a Cat First Aid Kit

While there are ready-made pet first aid kits available for purchase, many items that are recommended for cat first aid kits are already in your own kit and household. When creating a first aid kit specifically for your favorite feline, be sure to include the following items:

Starter Cat First Aid Kit:

  • Self-adhesive bandages (for pets)
  • Surgical tape
  • Sterile absorbent gauze
  • 4” x 4” gauze pads, for bleeding and bandaging
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Cotton swabs
  • Thick towel(s), for restraining your cat
  • “Cone of shame”
  • Saline solution
  • Syringe, for flushing wounds
  • Digital thermometer, to check temperature (always use a lubricant like Vaseline)

The first rule of thumb when it comes to cat first aid is: NEVER, EVER, give human medicines to a cat.

How to Respond to the Most Common Cat Emergencies

As in the case of any emergency, the best advice is to be prepared. Make sure to have the name and phone number of your veterinarian or the animal hospital closest to you readily available. Should your pet have an emergency outside of your vet’s regular office hours or on the weekend, save the numbers for any emergency veterinary clinics in your area.

Keep calm, assess the situation, and check for any additional danger to you or your cat. Approach your cat calmly and gently, and have a towel available in case you need to restrain them.

When Should A Cat Owner Call the Vet?

Always call your vet first, as staff may be able to provide you with immediate steps to take. Informing them of the circumstances surrounding your emergency allows them to help you better assess the situation. Let them know about the first aid kit and materials you have available to you.

Top Situations That Require A Call To Your Vet:

  • Difficulty breathing, or breathing that sounds stressed, noisy or rapid, or if there is continued coughing;
  • Weakness, unable to get up and move around;
  • Difficulty with balance;
  • Repeated vomiting;
  • Attempts to urinate or defecate with no success (this could indicate blockage of the bladder and can be fatal).

A cat having their paw wrapped as part of the first aid process

How to Respond to the Most Common Cat Emergencies

When an emergency arises, you want to be prepared. While you don’t have to memorize each of these scenarios, reviewing them now will benefit both you and your cat should the need arise.

Burns

Run cold water over the area for at least five minutes, then cover the burn area with damp towels. Do not apply ointments or cream. Contact your vet for further instructions.

Falls

Falls can cause injuries that aren’t easy to detect. If your cat falls from a great height, take them to the vet to ensure all is well.

Bleeding

Wrap the area with a towel and apply firm pressure. If the wound or laceration is on a leg, raise the leg above the heart. Minor cuts will typically stop bleeding within minutes. Apply a gauze pad and wrap it with self-adhesive bandages. If you cannot stop the bleeding within 10-15 minutes, go to the vet immediately.

Cuts

As with bleeding, firmly apply pressure to the wound with a towel or gauze pad. If possible, raise the wounded area above the level of the heart to reduce the flow of blood to the wound. Do not apply ointments, creams, or disinfectants unless instructed by your vet.

Stings

Bees are the only insects that leave behind their stingers. If the stinger is still attached to your cat, use a credit card to scrape it out. Do not use tweezers, as that may release more venom from the stinger. If there isn’t a stinger, press below the poison sac, then bathe the area with water. Soothe the area with ice, or a thick paste of baking soda and water (add diluted vinegar for a wasp sting). If the sting is in the mouth, throat, or nose area, call your vet immediately as it may interfere with breathing.

Poisons

If your cat got into something they shouldn’t have, call your vet immediately and, if possible, have the packaging of the substance available when you call. Many common house plants are also toxic to cats, and if you suspect that your cat has chewed or ingested any part of a toxic plant, identify the name of the plant and cut a sample of it for the vet. Do not make your cat vomit unless the vet recommends it. If you’re unsure whether or not a plant is toxic, check the ASPCA’s toxic and non-toxic plant list.

Bone Breaks

Get your cat to the vet as soon as possible and call them immediately for professional advice about what to do before you get there. If there is any bleeding, they may instruct you to stop or slow it down by lightly applying a towel to the wound. Never attempt to apply a splint.

Feline First Aid: Keep Your Cat Protected by Being Proactive

Despite the old adage of cats always landing on their feet, or that they have nine lives, even a simple injury may be an indication of something more serious. If your cat has been involved in an emergency or an accident, seek medical attention for them, regardless of whether they seem fine to you.

Be aware of potential dangers in your home and keep them secure and out of your cat’s reach, such as chemicals, medications, and even essential oils. Some household toxins might surprise you or guests in your home, so keep a copy of our checklist handy.

cat recovering after vet

We hope that this information has provided you with some helpful ways to be more prepared at home so that you can keep your kitty as safe and sound as possible! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email us at meow@basepaws.com.

Resources:

https://www.bluecross.org.uk/advice/cat/basic-first-aid-for-cats

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/first-aid-for-cats

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