The Red Cross has designated April as Pet First Aid Awareness month. It’s a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the resources available for pet first aid and emergency planning. Common situations that might require first aid for your cat include:
- Bleeding cut
- Insect bite
- Possible broken bone or dislocation
- Attacked and bitten by another animal
- A burn
Simple precautions can help prevent emergencies, such as cat-proofing your home. Particular hazards for cats include toxic plants, sewing needles and thread, other stringy objects like dental floss, medications meant for people or dogs, and chemicals and cleaners. Keeping your cat indoors reduces the risk of trauma and attack by other animals. Another important precaution, even for indoor cats, is ensuring your cat has identification such as a microchip as well as a collar and tag.
A pet first aid kit can be very handy – you can buy one at many pet stores or make your own. Kits should contain sterile cotton and gauze, sterile bandage pads, scissors, tweezers, cat-safe antibacterial cleanser, and blankets or towels. You should also have the phone numbers of your regular veterinarian, the nearest veterinary emergency clinic, and an animal poison control center (such as the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center or the Pet Poison Helpline) readily available. If you have to take your cat to an emergency clinic, having a copy of your cat’s current medical records will be very helpful. And make sure there is a cat carrier always ready for use. Above all, if your cat is sick or in pain, never give human pain medications – most are toxic to cats!
What is there is an emergency in your home or neighbourhood? Make sure your plans include your pets. Many shelters for people cannot accept pets, so be sure you know a friend, neighbour, or family member that could temporarily house your cat if need be.
The Catalyst Council has a good article on treating common injuries in cats.
The Red Cross has a disaster safety checklist for pets.
Always remember that even if you administer first aid to your pet, it should always be followed by immediate veterinary assistance.