Your cat is probably like a child to you and, like any loving parent of a “fur baby,” you want to do everything you can to keep her healthy and safe. That’s why you should know these important tips that could save your cat’s life.
1. How To Perform Cat CPR
If your cat isn’t breathing or her heart isn’t beating, you may have to do CPR until you can get her to a vet. When performing CPR on a cat, alternate between breaths and compressions. First, check her mouth for foreign objects, then hold the mouth shut, put your mouth around her mouth, and give two breaths into her nose. PetMD recommends one breath every four to five seconds. Breathe just enough to get the chest to rise and fall–don’t overdo it. Checking the pulse on a cat can be tough. Cats have a carotid artery in their necks you can check. Some vets also recommend checking for a pulse under their bottom leg.
To do chest compressions, use only one hand. Lay your cat on her right side because her heart’s mostly on the left side. Find her heart beneath her left elbow using the method in this video. Take two fingers and press about one half to one full inch and do 15 compressions. Every 10 to 15 compressions, give your cat another breath. Then repeat the compression and breathing cycle. For a closer look at how to find your cat’s heart and do compressions, see this video below:
2. Save A Choking Cat
Cats can choke on a number of things, including hairballs, strings, or other small items. If you can see the object, like a string, and it’s hanging out of the mouth, try to grab it and gently pull it out. If you can’t gently pull the string out, don’t force it, but take your cat to the vet immediately. Never just reach into a distressed cat’s mouth, as you’ll likely get bitten.
When it comes to hairballs, remember that hairball choking often looks worse than it is. Your cat may hack and hack to get rid of a hairball, but she isn’t actually choking or in danger. Sometimes, though, the choking is real and serious and you’ll need to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on your cat. Follow the instructions in the video above. You’ll need to hold her down between your knees, on her back. Hold your hands under her upper legs and press your hands, palms down, under the ribcage. Compress on her ribcage by making your hands roll from your pinky upward, pushing the air up. Compress until the object’s expelled. If the cat passes out, you may need to do CPR.
3. Keep Toxic Plants Away
Yes, plants are fun to have in the house and your kitty may absolutely love the greenery. But remember, a surprising number of household plants are actually toxic and life-threatening to your kitty. These include lilies, holly, mistletoe, and azalea. A complete list of toxic plants is here.
4. Avoid Milk
Sure, you may have heard that cats absolutely love milk. But their stomachs aren’t well adjusted to it. Many cats are lactose intolerant and can get severe diarrhea if they drink milk. Give her fresh water instead or lactose-free milk as a treat. To learn more about why milk isn’t the best option for your cat, see our story here.
5. Don’t Go For A Vegetarian Diet
Even if you decide to be a vegan, it’s not a good diet for your cat. Cats are obligate carnivores, so their bodies need meat to survive. They also didn’t evolve to digest vegetable enzymes and proteins sufficiently. They need meat to get their proper nutrients. Make sure you’re not feeding her a grain-based diet, because over time the lack of nutrients can make her sick. Watch her food labels to ensure the first ingredient is a meat product. To learn more about why cats can’t go vegan, check out our article here.
6. Watch For Life-Threatening Bladder Problems
Cats–especially male kitties–can get sick very fast if they develop a bladder problem. An untreated urinary tract infection can even be fatal. If your cat stops using the litter box, is peeing in strange places she normally doesn’t, or has what looks like blood in her urine, take your cat to the vet immediately. In these situations, it’s important not to delay.
7. Make Sure Your Cat Drinks Enough Water
Cats are notorious for not drinking enough. But dehydration can cause a whole bunch of problems in your cat, including urinary crystals that can lead to life-threatening bladder infections. You can encourage your cat to drink more water by feeding her wet food, mixing some water with her dry food, giving her a fountain with moving water, or keeping her water dish in a different location from her food. Find out more about cats’ weird relationship with water here.
From emergency situations that need immediate attention to chronic problems that become life-threatening over time, there are a lot of situations that can put your cat’s life in danger. By keeping a close eye on her health and knowing how to do CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver on your cat, you can be a lifesaver to your kitty if any of these unexpected scenarios occur.