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Feline First Aid
March 29, 2012

Pets, Like Humans, Can Benefit from first Aid--During National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, CATalyst Council Offers 5 tips for treating your cat

Sunday marks the first day of National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, and CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, offers this list of five common injuries and how to treat them prior to going to the veterinarian.

1. Your cat has a cut. Steps to stem bleeding from a cut on your cat are similar to what you would do if you had a cut. The first step is to calmly approach your cat and take it to a familiar area. Next, use gauze or a sterile first aid pad to apply pressure to the wound for at least 10 minutes. If the cut is on an extremity and your cat will allow it, elevate the wounded area to help slow the bleeding. In any case, seek veterinary attention immediately for specific treatment, including pain and infection control, and suturing if needed.

2. Your cat has been bitten by an insect. Have you ever heard of an “outside-only insect?” Of course not! Even indoor-only cats are susceptible to bee stings and mosquito bites. If you suspect your cat has been stung by an insect, inspect the area for a stinger and remove it by scraping your nail or the corner of a credit card along the skin to flick the stinger out. Next, apply a cold compress for a few minutes. You will want to monitor your cat for signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives or swelling, in the area of the sting. It's best to take your cat to the veterinarian immediately for any needed treatment, including safe treatment for pain. And remember, mosquitoes transmit heartworm to cats so be sure you use the monthly preventative recommended by your veterinarian.

3. Your cat has a broken or badly injured bone. The most important thing to do is to keep your cat calm so that it does not further injure itself while on your way to the veterinarian. If you have a plastic carrier with a removable top, take the top off, line it with towels or blankets, and gently place your cat into the carrier, replacing the top for transport to the veterinarian. If your carrier does not have a removable top or if you don’t have a carrier, a large box lined with towels or blankets will work as well, but you will want to secure the top in a way that allows plenty of air to enter the box while preventing your cat from escaping during the drive. You do not want to splint or otherwise manipulate the injured area, as this could cause further injury.

4. Your cat has been bitten by another animal. Since it's often difficult to detect the extent of the injury, seek veterinary help immediately. You may be able to initially cleanse the area with a mild antibacterial cleanser, but deeper treatment may be needed. Your veterinarian can determine if any other treatment is needed and will prescribe a safe pain medication along with antibiotics if warranted.

5. Your cat has been burned. If it is a thermal burn from heat or fire, apply a cool compress to the area while on your way to the veterinarian. If your cat has gotten a chemical burn from common household cleaners, flush the affected area with water for at least 15 minutes. You should bring your cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible for any kind of burn, as burns are painful and very prone to infection.

Remember, your veterinarian is your best resource when it comes to protecting the health and well-being of your pet. Once you realize your cat is injured, call your veterinarian immediately. He or she will be able to provide medical treatment advice specific to your cat’s injuries that will help you stabilize your cat long enough to bring it into the practice. For more first aid tips for your cat, check out the AVMA’s pet first aid site here.
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