There are various situations where your cat might find themselves in need of emergency care – here are some examples.
As well as checking for obvious signs of injury, inspect the back of the neck for lumps and swellings that may indicate broken bones or trauma swellings. Seek veterinary attention as soon as possible, informing the vet of any signs or symptoms of injury you have spotted. Even if the cat appears to have suffered no external injury, a thorough veterinary check-up is essential in case there is unseen internal haemorrhaging which could be life-threatening if not detected and treated as soon as possible.
Burns and scalds
Cool the burnt area with iced water if you can stand the cat in a bath or sink, pour this on for about 10 minutes to reduce the pain and the severity of the burn. Cover the burn lightly with a cool, damp, clean cloth handkerchief or tea towel, wrap the cat in a space blanket or equivalent, place him in a warm carrier and take him to the vet without delay.
Put rubber gloves on and wash the affected area under cold running water – either by standing the cat in the bath or sink and running water over the burn, or using a hosepipe in the garden. Prevent the cat from licking the area and follow the instructions as for burns and scalds.
Treat as for burns and scalds.
If you suspect your cat has ingested a poisonous substance profuse salivating is the most obvious sign; extreme sleepiness is another and is commonly associated with rat poison, contact your vet immediately, giving the name of any poisons you suspect. This will allow the practice to obtain any relevant information from the poison manufacturer while you transport your cat to the surgery. If you are instructed by the vet to make your cat vomit, in order to rid his digestive system of as much of the poison as possible, place one or two small washing soda sodium carbonate crystals, if you have them, at the back of the cat’s throat. Alternatively, use mustard or salt mixed with a little water. Get the cat to the veterinary clinic without delay. Keep all hazardous substances securely locked up, especially when there are curious kittens in the house.
Signs of fractured bones – apart from them protruding from the skin – include extreme pain on moving a limb, swelling, tenderness, loss of control of and/or deformity of the limb, unnatural movement of the limb, or the sound of the two ends of the bone grinding against each other called crepitus. Keep the cat as quiet and warm as possible and take him to a vet immediately.
Once the power supply has been turned off, check that the cat is breathing – if not, begin artificial respiration. If it is not possible to switch off the power supply, do not approach the cat. Electrocution will almost inevitably cause burns, which will need treating. A big danger in treating cats that have been electrocuted is the threat to the first aider. It is easy to rush in to help the stricken animal without considering any risk to yourself – so think before you act.
Insect stings and bites
A cat will frantically claw at the area of his body where he has been stung. If the cat has been stung in the throat, seek immediate veterinary attention, as swelling may block the airway and kill the cat. For stings elsewhere on the body, clip the fur from around the affected area so you can see what the problem is, and wash it with saline solution. Bees leave their sting in the victim, but wasps do not. If you can see the sting, and judge it is removable with tweezers, then do so carefully, and wipe the area with cotton wool dampened with surgical spirit.
To neutralise the effect of a wasp sting, wipe the area with vinegar or lemon juice; use bicarbonate of sod; dissolved in a little water for be stings. Then dry the area thoroughly but gently, and apply a wet compress to help reduce the irritation one swelling. For other insect bites, clean and dry the area, then apply antihistamine spray or ointment to reduce itching and irritation.