Giving CPR and saving lives in general is just another day on the job for a firefighter. On the morning of March 10, one firefighter from Arzignano proved that no life was too small by administering CPR to a tabby cat. A video filmed in Montebello Vicentino, near Verona, shows an unconscious cat who had been pulled out of a burning garage. A woman assumed to be the cat’s owner hovered nervously as a fireman administered oxygen to the feline while administering chest compressions. Water was dripped on the cat’s paws as words of encouragement were said. Before long, the tabby’s legs started twitching as the cat came to. One down, eight to go. While the cat’s owner whisked him off to a veterinarian, the firefighters investigated the now extinguished fire in the ash filled garage. After two hours, it was deemed to be an electrical fire. No one was hurt, but the kitty cat had a close call.
Fire Safety and Your Pet
When a cat is frightened, the first instinct is to hide. This is not a good instinct for them to have in case of a fire. Take note of where Kitty likes to hide whenever she feels stressed out. Usually, it’s best to give a stressed out cat time to mope it out. This is not one of those times! It’s always a good idea for you and your family to plan ahead of time where to go and what to do in case of a fire. Include all pets in this plan. Program the number for the local pet hospital into your phone so you’ll know who to call if your pet is injured.
You know that (largely apocryphal) story about the Chicago Fire being started because Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knocked over a lantern? Well, don’t blame the cow. Blame the fool who left a lantern where a cow could knock it over! A fire can just as easily be started by a cat knocking a candle over. Cats knock things off shelves; that’s just what they do. It’s up to you, the one with the evolved brain, to make sure there’s no way for your pet to start a fire on accident. Keep Kitty off the stove and away from candles and other open flames. Put a grate on your fireplace and keep wires where curious kitties won’t nibble on them.
The aforementioned cat owner may not have had access to the following service, but American pet owners do. The ASPCA provides a free pet safety pack that includes door and window stickers telling emergency personnel if there are animals inside along with your phone number. If you and your pets evacuate, write “evacuated” on the sticker (if safe to do so) so that the emergency team knows that everyone is safe.
How to Give CPR to a Cat
This is a little different from giving it to a person, as you have to be more gentle, much like giving CPR to a baby. The Italian firefighter had a mask to give the cat oxygen along with chest compressions. What if you don’t have any special equipment? Well, you can give a cat mouth to mouth like for a human, with a few basic differences here and there. Lay the cat on a flat surface and look at the rib cage for signs of breathing. The gums may turn blue if Kitty is not getting enough oxygen. Open Kitty’s mouth and see if anything is blocking the airway. If the airway is clear but Kitty is not breathing, you should start rescue breathing. While your cat is laying on his side, lift the chin to straighten out his throat. Use one hand on the muzzle to keep the mouth shut because you are going to be breathing into the cat’s nostrils. Clamp your mouth over the nose and give a firm but gentle puff of air. You should see Kitty’s chest expand as the lungs are filled with air. When the chest deflates, do another breath. Keep doing twenty breaths per minute until Kitty is breathing on her own.
Now let’s suppose your cat needs chest compressions. If you don’t have the special equipment the fireman had, this can be a two person job; one to do rescue breathing and one to do compressions. If you have to do it yourself, alternate one breath with five compressions. Once more, Kitty needs to be laying on a flat surface. Put the palm of your hand on the cat’s rib cage just over the heart. Put your opposite hand on top of the first. If this is a kitten or very small cat, place your thumb on one side of the chest and all of your other fingers on the opposite side. Compress the chest by just an inch. Squeeze and release rhythmically. Do it to the tune of “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGee’s to keep the right rhythm. (You could also use Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”, but is that really an appropriate song right now?)
In Italian folklore, cats are clever tricksters. They may be well meaning tricksters like Puss in Boots or Papa Gatto, or they may be cruelly deceitful like the con artist cat in Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio. Still, the people of Italy love their cats. About fifty-eight percent of all pet owners in Italy have a cat. Nearly 7.3 million cats have homes in Italy, making them the fourth largest cat population in Europe. Even a clever cat can find itself in trouble and need human help. Learn how to help your furry friend before they need it.