You love your cat’s inquisitive nature and silly antics, but sometimes that goofy behavior can land them in hot water. After all, curiosity is not always good for a cat’s health. When your feline friend is in trouble because they ate your medication that you dropped on the floor, or they licked a lily, what do you do?

In an emergency situation, you may easily panic if you don’t know what to do. But, with knowledge and preparation, you can keep a cool head, and provide first aid to your cat if they suddenly become ill or are injured. However, be aware that some emergencies require prompt veterinary care, and you should contact our Just Cats Clinic team immediately. These situations include your cat:

  • Straining to urinate or defecate
  • Being unable to walk
  • Experiencing profuse vomiting or diarrhea
  • Being unresponsive
  • Bleeding profusely

For injuries and illnesses that can benefit from first aid at home, be prepared with a fully stocked first aid kit and the skills to care for your cat.

How to build a first aid kit for your cat

The first step toward being prepared for an emergency is outfitting a first aid kit with all the essentials. You likely already have a supply in your own first aid kit, but you’ll need to add some cat-specific items. Ensure your kit includes the following necessities:

  • Gauze squares and rolls
  • Non-stick Telfa pads
  • Self-adhesive wrap
  • Medical tape
  • Blunt-tipped scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Sterile saline
  • Disposable gloves
  • Antiseptic wash or wipes
  • Oral syringe
  • Thermometer
  • Towels

Also, include a copy of your cat’s medical records and a week’s supply of chronic medications. Every few months, check your pet first aid kit to ensure nothing has expired, and that you have an ample supply of the necessities. Pack all your supplies in an easy-to-carry plastic tote that you can grab and go. 

How to administer first aid to your cat

In an emergency, first aid can save your cat’s life. Here are a few common situations that can benefit from pet first aid:

  • Burns — Your mischievous cat can encounter all sorts of situations where they can be burned, including heat, chemical, or electrical burns. All burns are extremely painful, tend to get worse before they get better, and are highly susceptible to infection. Approach your cat with caution if they’ve suffered from a burn, as they may lash out because of the pain. First, remove the source of the burn, whether it’s putting out flames, turning off power to an electrical cord, or mopping up a chemical spill. Then, apply a cool-water compress to thermal or electrical burns, or flush the area contaminated by a chemical. Then, seek veterinary care immediately.
  • Wounds — While you may be able to treat some superficial wounds at home, deep wounds and bite wounds require veterinary care. For a deep wound, avoid flushing the area or removing any protrusion. Stop bleeding by applying firm pressure for at least three minutes, or by applying a bandage. As you drive to our clinic, you may need to prevent your cat from licking their wound by using an Elizabethan collar or thick towel wrap.
  • Bee stings — Buzzing insects may seem like a fun toy to your cat, until their “toy” lashes out with a piercing sting. Like some people, some cats can be allergic to bee stings, so removing the sting and neutralizing the reaction is vital, although you must never remove the sting with tweezers, since the squeezing can release more venom. Instead, remove the stinger by scraping it with the edge of a credit card. Next, apply a cold-water compress for two to three minutes, and then neutralize the sting with a smear of water and baking soda paste. Although baking soda is non-toxic, keep your cat from licking the paste off their skin. Monitor them closely for hives, difficulty breathing, or vomiting, and seek veterinary treatment if you notice these issues.
  • Toxins — Cats can easily run across home toxins, from human and pet medications, to cleaning chemicals, to house plants, and all pose serious health risks for your feline friend. Prompt action is needed to provide the best outcome in a poisoning situation, so contact an animal poison control helpline immediately if you suspect your pet has been poisoned. Expert veterinary toxicologists will guide you through the appropriate steps and the issues to watch for in your cat. 

Remembering each step of first aid procedures can be challenging in a true emergency, so add  a printed guide to your pet first aid kit, or download an app that aids you every step of the way, such as this one created by the Red Cross. For additional first aid procedures, check out the American Veterinary Medical Association’s tips.

If your cat is experiencing an emergency, contact our Just Cats Clinic team for help. We can offer advice over the phone on providing first aid to help stabilize your pet until you reach our hospital.