4 Essential First Aid Tips for Cats

April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month, so let’s talk about emergency first aid for cats, shall we? Obviously first aid does not take the place of proper veterinary treatment, but when used appropriately, it can help until medical attention is available.

1. Use calm energy — slow and low

First of all, calm yourself. Take some deep breaths. If you are upset, the cat you are trying to help will sense your alarm and make it more difficult to administer first aid.

If the cat knows you, it will be easier to help, but cats are very much in tune with our emotions, so remember to approach the cat slowly so as not to startle her. When speaking, talk slowly and using a low tone of voice. Then, slowly blink at your cat then turn your head to the side. If it is calm, it may blink back at you.

catfirstaid-scared2. Recognizing body language

Here are a few signs of distress in cats:

  • Ears: Backward, sideways, flat (“airplane ears”) says irritable, angry or frightened
  • Eyes: If the pupils are fully dilated it can mean the cat is scared
  • Tail:
    • standing on end means angry or frightened
    • held very low or tucked between legs means insecure or anxious
    • thrashing back and forth: agitated. The faster the tail, the angrier the cat

Here is a great video that could help you sort out a cat’s body language.

3. Immobilize by scruffing

Just like the mother cat used this method to discipline and move her kittens, you can use scruffing to immobilize a cat to look at its teeth, a wound, or even to bath your cat.

Here is a video that demonstrates scruffing a cat by pulling back the loose skin between the ears and shoulder blades. An important thing to remember is to place your forearm on the cat’s back. This method can also be used if the cat is lying on its side.

If you need to pick up an injured cat, wrap it in a blanket to protect yourself from scratches and to prevent the cat from moving and causing further injury.

4. Emergency treatments

Here are some great articles that give specific emergency first aid information:

While I hope that you never have to use any of this information, knowing how to read the signs and what to do in an emergency situation can save its life.