I recently became certified in pet first aid and CPR and was surprised at some of the lessons I learned.
Do you know how to keep your cat safe in an emergency? Answer each true/false question below — and remember that, no matter how good your knowledge of pet first aid, you should contact your vet or veterinary emergency room immediately any time your cat is injured.
1) If I have a well-stocked first-aid kit for humans, I don’t need one for my cat.
Answer: False. You should have a first-aid kit just for your cat that’s stocked with refills of his medication, his veterinary records and phone numbers for his vet and the nearest veterinary emergency room. (See what else should be in your cat’s first-aid kit.)
2) If my cat gets a burn, I should put water on the injured area.
Answer: True. Applying cool, clean water to your cat’s burn as soon as possible can lessen the pain and may also prevent the heat from the burn from penetrating farther into the tissue. But if the burn covers a large area of your cat’s body, don’t submerge him in water. Instead, run or pour cool water over the areas.
With any burn, you should call your vet or the nearest 24-hour animal hospital. They will be able to tell you whether your cat should be seen immediately or if it can wait for a regular appointment.
3) If my cat is straining to urinate but I don’t see any blood in his urine, I should call my vet some time within the next few days.
Answer: False. You should call your vet immediately. A cat who is straining to urinate may have a urinary blockage — a potentially fatal condition.
4) If my cat eats something poisonous, I should make him throw up to get it out of his system.
Answer: False. Never induce vomiting in your cat unless your vet tells you to, since some substances can harm your cat even more coming back up. Instead, call your vet or the ASPCA’s Pet Poison Control Hotline (888-4ANI-HELP or 888-426-4435) immediately.
5) If my cat’s temperature goes below 100ºF or above 103ºF, I should call my vet at once.
Answer: True. Your cat’s body normal temperature is 100.5-102.5ºF. Any more or less should be considered a medical emergency.
6) If my cat is bleeding from his tail or leg for more than five minutes, I should apply a tourniquet.
Answer: False. Tourniquets stop or slow blood flow to a limb, which can cause the tissue to die. So only use a tourniquet in a life-or-death situation. Instead, cover your pet’s wound with a clean, sterile bandage and apply firm, constant pressure. If the bleeding is heavy or doesn’t stop in five minutes, contact your vet.
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