EMERGENCY – Quick Guide For The Cat Owner

emergency sign
In case of an emergency you should know what to do


A knowledge of feline first aid could make the difference between life and death to your cat. However, if you try to administer first aid, and are not sure of the correct procedure, you could do more harm than good.


For all, bar minor injuries that can be treated at home, apply immediate first aid, if you are confident on the procedure, and then take your cat to the vet immediately. Calling the vet to your home only wastes time and the chances are that whatever emergency treatment is necessary, may be an operation, will be available only at the surgery.

If you have to drive the cat to the vet, do not travel alone. If possible, get a friend or neighbor to go with you. Left unrestrained in a carrier, the injured cat may panic and damage itself further. It is better to wrap the cat in a blanket and for someone to cuddle it; this reassures the cat and makes it less likely to go into shock. Also, you are less liable to have a road accident if you know the cat is securely held and as comfortable as possible.

After any accident, it is important to treat the cat for shock: keep the cat quiet and warm – wrap it in a towel or blanket – until you can get to the vet’s surgery.

ANIMAL BITES (see also snake bites)


Any free-ranging cat will, inevitably, get into a scrap with another cat at some point. The mouths of all animals, including humans, contain may bacteria which, once in the bloodstream, can cause infections.


  • Immediately bathe any wound with a diluted antiseptic suitable for cats, to decrease local infection; even a small puncture would result in an abscess.
  • Next, contact the vet who will give an antibiotic injection immediately, and prescribe the relevant follow-up course of antibiotic pills



There are three kinds of burns, all of which will result in blistering of the affected part:

  1. Contact burns, from direct contact with a hot surface.
  2. Scalds caused by contact with boiling water.
  3. Caustic burns from contact with toxic chemicals.

The most likely place for a cat to suffer the first two is in the kitchen. Caustic burns occur more often if a cat wanders into an area where dangerous chemicals are stored.


  • Immediately hold the blistered area under cold running water.
  • Never administer ointments, lotions or butter to the burn.
  • Do not puncture blisters
  • Get the cat to the vet as soon as possible


Immediate resuscitation is vital if your cat stops breathing. This can be due to several causes, most commonly drowning (which includes newborn kittens that have inhaled amniotic fluid) and electric shock.

  1. Tilt back the cat’s head, hold the mouth shut, and blow into both nostrils.
  2. Wait until air is expelled and repeat until the cat starts breathing on its own. If the cat still does not breathe, you should perform a heart massage.
  3. For heart massage, lay the cat on its side and rapidly press and then release the area of the chest behind the elbow where the heart is situated. Do not worry how firm you are in treating the cat; if it is not breathing it is, to all intents and purposes, dead. If you manage to revive your cat and it lives, a broken rib is the least of your worries.



A cat does not have to fall into a deep lake to drown; drowning takes place when the lungs become full of water instead of air, and can be caused in many ways. The urgency is to expel this water from the lungs so that the cat can breathe again.


  • Hold the cat with its head pointing downward and slap its back firmly. If water is not expelled, and the cat appears not be breathing, drastic action is called for.
  • Grab the cat firmly by the scruff of its neck and by the rear legs, and swing it firmly downward.
  • Once the water has been expelled, the process of resuscitation is similar to that suggest by the Red Cross for humans – mouth to mouth – but in the case of the cat mouth to nose is better.



Cats are notorious chewers, and the danger of electric cables means nothing to them. If your cat is electrocuted, do not touch it until you have switched off and disconnected the appliance, or you, too, will receive a shock.


  • Administer resuscitation as described in steps 1-3 above.
  • Then contact the vet immediately



It is commonly thought that cats always land on their feet, but this is not necessarily so. Fractured jaws are much more common than fractured limbs after falls, and even if a cat has not actually broken or fractured bones, it may be concussed.


  • If you suspect a broken bone, get to the vet as soon as possible, restraining the cat to stop it causing himself further damage.
  • There is also the possibility of internal injury which you will not be able to detect. Treat your cat for shock, and contact your vet who will advise you how to move the cat, then take it straight to the vet.

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