To many people the idea of performing CPR on a cat is either very odd or something that never even occurred to them. Most cat owners are just as unaware as catless people, so it really isn’t about whether you have hands on experience with a cat. But it can be a life-saving practice that will give a cat another 8 or so lives. Before we move forward with the actual procedure there are a few basic things you need to know.
Checking Things Out
First, unlike humans, don’t wait for your cat to stop breathing completely before starting CPR. If they have been involved in an accident or are clearly having trouble breathing, start CPR immediately. Cats are usually up and around, so if your cat is just lying around without any visible signs of activity for an unusual period of time, check to see if there is something wrong. The first sign you look for is whether the cat is breathing or has labored breathing. Simply look at their chest for movement. You can also put your hand in front of their nose to check, and also consider that most cats will give you that look or move their head to get away from your hand.
Second, open their mouth and check out their gums. What you are looking for is either white gums, which indicates a blood circulation problem, or a bluish or greyish hue which indicates not enough oxygen is getting into their system. Both conditions are a green light to start performing CPR.
Third, you can check for their pulse. It is located at the point where the cat’s leg meets their body. You might want to practice checking their pulse before it is actually needed.
If it is determined you cat needs CPR, get them to the vet or animal hospital immediately. The whole idea behind cat CPR is to buy them some time, not to play doctor. The CPR technique can be performed while you are transporting Tabby.
The CPR Procedure
Before proceeding, be sure you have done the preparation steps above. Check to see if there is anything in the cat’s mouth. You can open it and if you find any type of obstruction you need to remove it and create a clear pathway for the cat to breathe. You may want to put vinyl gloves or something on your hands if you are not sure what the obstruction is before removing it.
Can the cat breathe now? If not, then go to the next step. Since the cat’s tongue can also obstruct their ability to breathe, you need to gently pull it forward while at the same time gently closing their mouth. This is a two hand procedure. The way you will get air into the cat’s lungs is through its nose. You will basically be using the same procedure as performing CPR on an infant, so if you know this you are way ahead of the game. Hold the cat’s neck straight and every 5 seconds blow small puffs of air into its nose. The way you know you are doing this correctly if by watching the cat’s chest rise and fall.
Cat CPR Odds and Ends
After reading this you may not have the confidence to perform CPR on the cat. There are two ways to handle this. The first is to try. Few people get it right the first time, but as you are on the way to the vet you can give them a fighting chance. The second way is to call the vet if you are trying and have them walk you through the procedure. Talking to an experienced professional can give you the confidence you need to continue trying.
No one ever knows when there may be the need to perform cat CPR, just like no one can be sure when it will be necessary to perform CPR on a human. But because the process is almost the same for both cats and human infants, taking classes in human CPR will prepare you to give a cat CPR. If you are not sure whether learning cat CPR is useful, the easiest way is to ask your friends and other cat owners whether they are even aware cat CPR is possible. You may be one of the few who can successfully perform it when everyone else is thinking the cat has used up their 9 lives.