Emergency Cat Situations

Having a cat means a lot of purrs, meows, and head butts but it can also mean being prepared for unfortunate and sometimes unforeseeable accidents. When traveling or just at home, your cat may find him/herself in some sticky situations and it’ll be up to you to give comfort, safety, and ease any pain until you get to a vet. If you’re lucky enough you’ll be able to get your cat to the vet immediately but if you are traveling, finding the emergency vet can be tricky and may be in another town or miles away. Until you can get there, there are some things you can do.

Emergency Situations and What to do

Skunk! – It happens. Your cat strolls outside into the yard and comes face to face with a skunk. The skunk freaks and sprays your cat. What do you do? First, make sure your cat has not been bitten or injured as skunks can carry rabies. Yes, your cat will smell horrible and you’ll be slightly grossed out to pick her up and bring her inside but you’ll have to or at least bring her into the garage.

Your cat will need a bath. You’ll need help and old clothes that you don’t care about. Get some dishwashing soap,like Dawn, tomato juice, towels, cat safe shampoo, and a tub or basin for washing your cat. Fill the tub with three to four inches of water, put your cat into the water, wet her down, soap her up with the dishwashing soap to break up the oils from the skunk spray, rinse with clean water (you may need two basins – one with clean water, one with the cat in it), pour tomato juice onto the cat and massage it in for about 5 to 10 minutes, rinse, and then shampoo with the cat shampoo, let that sit for another 5 minutes, rinse. Once your cat is completely rinsed, lift her out and wrap her in towels and place her in a warm dry place. Some of the smell may not be completely gone and her eyes might be irritated. Hopefully you’ve also been able to get in touch with the local vet and can bring her there shortly afterwards to make sure she’s ok.

Broken Bone – Before you get your cat to the vet, control its bleeding and confine its movement before you get to the hospital. Approach your cat slowly as s/he may be freaked and scared. If the fracture is closed, place the cat in a carrier to confine movement and get to the emergency vet as soon as possible. If the fracture or broken limb also has an open wound, rinse the wound with clean water. Don’t use any antiseptics or peroxide to clean the wounds. Wrap the leg with a clean cloth or sterile bandage to control bleeding. Then place your cat into a carrier and head to vet.

Choking – First, open your cats mouth by pressing either side of the jaw, and look to see if the object is there. Don’t tilt your cat’s head back. If you see something obvious, use tweezers to get it out but you’ll need help. Be careful since your cat may freak and try to bite you. Also, you might accidentally push the object further down. If your cat is choking on food (my cat has been known to do this) hold your cat upside down and press on its chest with both hands and pat on the back. A vet visit is, of course, needed afterwards to make sure your cat’s throat is ok and there’s no lacerations.

Electric Shock – Cats and kittens will sometimes chew on electric cords. It’s not common but it does happen. In this situation, do not touch your cat, but unplug the cord and if your cat is breathing, pick her up and bring to her a vet asap. If there are burn marks around the lips you can treat them with a little hydrogen peroxide but that’s it. Make sure to unplug the cord before touching your cat or you could get chocked too. If your cat isn’t breathing, perform CPR and get your cat to the nearest emergency vet as soon as you can.

Heatstroke – Cats who suffer heatstroke need treatment as soon as possible. Get your cat into a cool bath and apply a ice pack to your cat’s head that will help bring the temperature back down. Once you’ve gotten in touch with your vet, take the cat and place her into a carrier with the ice pack placed under her head and a towel that is soaked in cool water under her body.

Image from Simplycatbreeds.org

Emergency Preparedness For Your Pets

In light of the recent storms in the Northeast, we wanted to update this article on emergency preparedness for pets with some new information. Our thoughts are with everyone struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy, and we’re grateful to all those who have sent money, supplies, and volunteers to the area. Don’t forget that you can donate to the American Humane Association (text HUMANE to 80888) and Red Cross Disaster Relief (text REDCROSS to 90999) via text message.

While we can’t always know or plan ahead for everything in life, it’s good to have some idea of what we will do in case of an emergency – and that goes for humans as well as the furry members of the household.

Whether or not you live in an area that’s prone to seasonal natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, or forest fires, things like house fires can occur no matter where you live. And the time to plan for an emergency like that is absolutely not when you’ve discovered the curtains are ablaze. Putting together a family emergency plan takes fore-thought, and that’s especially true if you’ve got pets to work into the equation.

Here are 7 tips to help you put together an emergency preparedness plan that takes your pets into account, too:

1: Make absolutely sure your pet has proper ID

Your pet should wear a collar that has an ID tag including your name, telephone number, and an additional emergency contact. Microchipping your pet is also strongly encouraged; tags can get torn off or collars removed – a microchip will help make sure you find your way back to your pet if you get separated.

2: Have an evacuation plan (and pet emergency kit) ready and handy

Having a pet emergency kit with some pet food, water, any medications your pet takes, litter/sanitation supplies, a blanket/pillow, a toy or two, an extra leash, collar, pet first aid supplies, a photograph of your pet, and an extra set of tags at the ready can save worry over where everything is when you’re in a panic. Pet carriers should also be in handy locations – not the deepest recess of the attic – and should be designed for easy transport. It’s also good to look up the locations of nearby pet-friendly hotels in case you need to evacuate quickly.

3: If you are forced to evacuate, don’t leave your pet behind

Plan ahead and find out if there are emergency animal shelters in your area if the nearest evacuation site does not allow pets.

4: Get a pet rescue alert sticker for the window of your home

If you have no choice but to leave your pet behind, be absolutely certain rescue workers know there’s a pet inside the house. The ASPCA has free Pet Safety Packs that include a sign you can put in your window indicating there’s a pet inside. Even if you’re not in a situation where you need to evacuate, these stickers can be extremely important if there’s an emergency situation at your house when you’re not there. For instance, if your home catches fire, firefighters would be able to know in an instant that there were animals indoors that needed to be rescued. And if you’re able to safely get your pets out during an emergency, it’s a good idea to try to write the word EVACUATED across the sticker so rescue workers know they can move on to the next house.

5: Special consideration for birds, reptiles, and small animals

Birds need a small and secure cage, reptiles and fish need a lightweight plastic tank instead of their big glass aquarium, and small animals like hamsters need a carrier where the cage doesn’t have openings so large they can escape. Depending on the weather in your area, prepare for the needs of your pet and climate controls that are necessary for their well-being. If your pet needs something like a heat lamp, a heating pad can serve in emergencies. Paper towels, an old towel, and a blanket are always good to have set aside specifically for your special pet.

6: Use technology to your advantage

While it’s good to keep a photo of your pet in his/her emergency kit, it’s also smart to store images of your pet on your phone. You can also scan and save your pet’s medical records on your phone, along with contact information for your vet or emergency vets in your area. There are iPhone and Android apps you can download to file pet records, or you can just use a note-taking app like Evernote. You can even email medical records and pet photos to yourself so you can access them remotely, whether you have your phone with you or not.

7: Climate and geographic considerations

If you live in an area where things like tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes are regular occurrences, it’s important to have these plans in place well in advance so you’re not scrambling when disaster strikes. Not only will you need to be able to grab your pet and his/her emergency kit in case of an evacuation, you’ll also need to know the places in your house that are safe if (for instance) a tornado comes through and your best bet is to take cover indoors. You just need to know what parts of your house are safest for you, your family, and your pets. Even if you don’t live in a disaster-prone part of the world, however, no doubt there are occasional storms or fireworks displays that might frighten your pet – be sure to keep them indoors during things like that so they can’t run off in a panic.

photo by thchai