A knowledge of first aid can prove useful, and in some instances essential. Accidents tend to happen when we least expect them to, so it is sensible to be prepared. Emergency situations need immediate action; if you know what to do you may be able to limit the injuries sustained by your pet, and perhaps even save his life. When administering first aid, the points of action to take are shown on the checklist.
- always remember your own safety is paramount
- assess the situation
- protect yourself and others from injury
- examine the cat
- diagnose injuries
- treat injuries or pain as appropriate
- keep the cat warm, calm and quiet
- protect the cat from further injury
- know when its time to call in the vet.
First aid training
Having basic training training in the subject will give you the confidence to deal with an emergency situation calmly and efficiently until an expert practitioner can take over from you. Some vet clinics run courses in basic first aid, and it is well worth enlisting in one of these. Practising first-aid procedures on a healthy cat when you not under pressure is the best way to learn what to do in a real situation.
It is useful to have a home first-aid kit with which to treat minor injuries, to minimize adverse effects on the cat. Basic first-aid items can be bought from your vet, local pharmacy or good pet stores.
A first-aid kit should contain the following:
- absorbent paper kitchen roll to wipe up any liquid mess.
- antihistamine to ease insect stings and bites.
- antiseptic lotion for cleaning wounds – particularly animal bites.
- antiseptic wound powder for treating wounds and promoting healing.
- bandages to keep dressings in place.
- cat claw-clippers choose the guillotine variety.
- conforming ‘sticky’ bandage – useful for holding dressings in place.
- cotton buds – dampen these and use to remove grass seeds or other foreign objects from the eyes and to clean wounds and apply ointments.
- cotton wool to bathe eyes, clean wounds and use as a dressing. Dampen first to prevent strands from breaking off and sticking to a wound.
- curved, round-ended scissors to clip fur and trim dressings to size.
- Elizabethan collar to prevent a cat from interfering with dressings or sutures.
- glucose powder – mix one tablespoon of glucose with one teaspoon of salt in 1 litre 1 2/3 pints of warm water to make a re-hydrating fluid for cats.
- heavy-duty protective gloves for restraining a cat.
- lubricant jelly to lubricate rectal thermometer before insertion.
- non-stick dressings useful for cuts.
- pencil torch and batteries to inspect the mouth and ears.
- rectal thermometer to ascertain body temperature. You may prefer to use an oral thermometer. Don’t confuse them and don’t use your human ones on the cat!
- round-ended tweezers to remove insect stings.
Try to minimize the possibility of accidents occurring around your home, and be vigilant about keeping an eye out for any signs of ill health that may need addressing.