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perform cpr on cats

6 Important Steps to Perform CPR on Cats

Medical emergencies can happen, and it is important for responsible pet owners to know how to perform CPR on cats. This is to provide the most care to your pet in case they are suffering a possible injury. Sometimes it is up to you to save your pet’s life. Don’t worry, we break it down in this article so you can learn this and remember it for the future. Follow along to these 6 important steps to perform CPR on cats. 

If you witness a medical emergency, remember to keep calm and assess where your cat had been injured in case there is an active threat to you or your cat. Once your cat is in your care, keep them warm and be as quiet as possible while having very minimal movement. This is to ensure you are not causing any more trauma, or breaking more limbs, or causing any more neurological symptoms.

Performing CPR on Cats

  1. Carefully pull the tongue out of the mouth.
  2. Extend the head and neck so that they are in a straight line. DO NOT overextend the neck in animals that have obvious head and neck trauma.
  3. Carefully clear the mouth of any debris that may be obstructing breathing.
  4. Place your hand over your cat’s muzzle while holding the mouth shut and extend the neck. For cats, you can sometimes improvise with a Styrofoam cup or other similarly shaped object by poking a large hole in the bottom for you to breathe through and putting the opening over your cat’s face. Ensure a relatively tight seal around the muzzle.
  5. Blowing into the nostrils, give two to three breaths and watch for a rise in the chest. For rescue breathing, provide 10 breaths per minute. If you do not see a rise in the chest, reposition the neck or search for airway obstruction.
  6. If your cat fails to breathe on its own, you may attempt an acupressure maneuver. Press firmly with your fingernail or another hard dull object in the space between the nostrils and the upper lip (nasal philtrum). Do this for 10-30 seconds.

When you have created an airway with the CPR, and your cat is still not awake, try attempting chest compressions on them. When doing so, remember these steps:

  • Make sure there is no major bleeding. If there is bleeding, have an assistant manage the bleeding while you perform CPR. 
  • If possible, lay your cat on its right side.
  • Feel for a heartbeat or femoral pulse. The femoral pulse is located inside the leg in the groin region. Cats do not have a readily palpable carotid (neck) pulse.
  • Bend the left forearm and note the location where the elbow touches the chest. This is close to the middle of the rib cage.
  • Use one hand to compress the chest from both sides by putting your fingers on one side and your thumb on the other side of the chest. Compress the chest 100-120 times per minute. The rate should be about 30 compressions for every two breaths.
  • Try to compress the chest wall at least 30-50%. This is about 1″ (2 cm) in the average cat.

As you are attempting to save your cat, contact your veterinary hospital. If you have a second person with you, have them call as you perform CPR on your cat. Inform the vet’s office of the situation and ask specific first aid questions/advice to assist you on your attempts. Once your cat is conscious, hurry to the veterinary hospital as soon as possible.

*NOTE:  safely transport an injured cat while using a strong container (like a cardboard box or a cat carrier). Gently place them inside and wrap a blanket or thick towel over them.

Hope this was helpful, from the Fire Hydrant Team!

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