Artificial respiration (AR) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are emergency procedures that at some point might save your cat’s life. Hopefully, you will not find yourself in a situation like that, but it is good to know how to react. The most important thing is not to let it get to that point, so if you are noticing some signs like difficulty breathing, weakness, unconsciousness, and severe injury take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible, and if it is necessary and you administer it correctly, CPR may give you enough time to get there.
Before you do anything, you need to check if your cat needs CPR.
- Check the breathing – You can do this by monitoring for chest movement, you can put your hand or a mirror close to the nose to feel his breath. If there are signs that the cat is breathing, then CPR is probably not necessary.
- Check the color of the gums – If your cat is not getting enough oxygen the gums can be blue or grey, and white gums can be a sign of bad blood circulation.
- Check for a pulse – You can check it on the inside of the thigh, where the leg meets the body. You can also try to listen for a heartbeat by putting your ear (or stethoscope) on the left side of the chest, near the elbow.
In case of emergency follow these steps, and preferably on your way to the veterinarian:
- Check for breathing.
- If there is none, open the mouth and remove any obstructions in the airway.
- Pull the tongue to the front of the mouth, then close the mouth and gently hold it shut.
- Make sure the neck is straight and breathe short puffs of air into the nose – one breath every 4 to 5 seconds. (If you have been trained in CPR for human infants, use a similar strength of breath.)
- Watch for chest movement; the chest should both rise when you give a breath and relax after the breath.
- If the cat’s heart stops, use both artificial respiration and CPR (steps 7-10)
- Check for a heartbeat and pulse.
- If there is none, lay your cat on his right side on a flat surface.
- Place your thumb and fingers from one hand on either side of his chest behind his elbows and give a quick squeeze to compress the chest to about 1/2 of its normal thickness.
- Compress the chest about 15 times every 10 seconds; give a breath about every 10 compressions.
Unfortunately, most cats that reach the point of needing CPR do not survive. If your cat does survive it will probably need to stay in a hospital for a while, and it will take a lot of aftercare till it gets better. Follow the instructions of the veterinarian and if you don’t see results or you see that the situation is getting worse contact him as soon as possible.
Accidents happen, but if you are cautious and take your cat to regular check-ups maybe you can lower the chances of your cat ever needing CPR.
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