Like ourselves, cats are not immune to the risk of a minor or serious accident, particularly domestic and road accidents. Depending on the nature of the injury, it may be necessary to act very quickly. As a cat owner, you can learn some of the basic gestures to provide first aid to your pet in the event of an accident.
Don't aggravate the situation
If your cat has an accident, the first thing you should do is call the emergency services. That means calling your vet: they are the most qualified when it comes to caring for your cat and will be able to give you instructions on what to do. If the situation calls for it, you will need to bring your cat to a veterinary clinic as quickly as possible.
Be extra careful when transporting an injured cat as they may bite or scratch you due to the pain. To move your cat without the risk of aggravating their situation (especially in the event of a fracture or internal bleeding), you can grab your cat by the skin of the neck and hold them under their hindquarters. Alternatively, you can wrap your cat in a blanket and lift them up by grasping the edges of the fabric. Then lay your cat down on a hard, flat surface (a board for example) and if you are travelling by car, drive slowly to avoid any bumps.
What to do if your cat is bleeding or has suffered burns
If your cat is losing blood, it is imperative to stop the bleeding. The most effective way to do this is to place the palm of your hand on the wound and to press down firmly. You can also apply a tight bandage (if the blood seeps through, you will need to apply a second bandage over the first). You should only use a tourniquet (a device comprising a piece of cloth tightened with a stick) as a last resort and for no more than 15 minutes. In any case, you must bring your cat to the vet as quickly as possible.
If your cat has been burned, cool down the skin immediately to prevent the burn from getting worse. To do so, gently dab the burned area with a cotton pad or cloth soaked in cold water. Then apply a cold compress (a soaked cloth or cloth containing ice cubs). Do not apply any cream and make sure to take your cat to the vet if the burns are serious.
What to do in the event of cardiac or respiratory failure
If your cat has suffered a serious accident, such as a fall, electrocution, drowning or a car accident, it may be necessary to resort to cardiac or respiratory resuscitation. These gestures, which are much more technical, should only be carried out if you fully master them. You can learn such gestures from your vet or by taking a cat first aid course. This video will help you to understand the instructions below.
First, you will need to check whether your cat is still breathing and whether their heart is still beating. Check for a pulse under their right back leg by locating the femoral artery. Press down quite firmly with two fingers and you should be able to feel a pulse. You should then place them in the safety position: lie them down on their side on a flat surface with their paws spread out. You can then try to resuscitate your cat by closing their mouth and breathing into their nose (remember their lungs are much smaller than ours so use short, sharp breaths). To give your cat CPR, you will need to perform a series of 30 chest compressions (placing one hand on the sternum or two hands on the sides) followed by two rescue breaths in the nostrils. As you perform these gestures, ideally on your way to the vet, you should regularly check your pet's breathing and pulse rate