Cat First Aid Quick Guide

Cat first aid is useful for treating minor health problems and afflictions, but it's not meant to replace a visit to the veterinarian. If your cat is seriously injured, he should be taken to the vet, even after first aid is administered. The most important thing to remember about first aid is to act fast. Seek immediate veterinary care if your cat loses consciousness, gets hit by a vehicle, is bleeding uncontrollably or is unable to urinate.

Approaching an Injured Cat

An injured cat is likely to be confused and in pain, which could cause it to react with aggression when approached. Approach him slowly in a crouched position, and do not make direct eye contact. You could also speak to the cat in a soothing, soft voice. Projecting a nurturing or reassuring attitude may help to calm the cat.

Transporting an Injured Cat

If an injured cat is in the middle of the road, or some other place where it is not appropriate to perform first aid, you will have to move the animal. Drop a blanket or towel over his head and paws, and envelope the body. Move the cloth beneath the cat, so you can pick him up. If you do not want to approach the cat, call animal control for assistance.

Taking Body Temperature

Most feline thermometers are rectally inserted. You simply hold the animal in standing position so it cannot escape, lift its tail, and insert the thermometer about one inch into the rectum. If you have a mercury thermometer, remember to flick it until the mercury is below the ninety-four degree mark. Remove the thermometer after two minutes. A regular, healthy temperature range for a cat is between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees. If your cat has a fever, you should call your veterinarian.

Disinfecting Wounds

In order to prevent infection in a wounded cat, you will have to clean and disinfect its wounds. Wash the damaged tissue with anti-bacterial soap, then pour warm water over the wound for two minutes. Dry the wound with a paper towel or sterile gauze pad. Disinfect by pouring betadine iodine over the affected area, and let it air dry.


If the injured cat is making lots of noise with its breathing, it's usually a problem. Heavy wheezing sounds can indicate a restricted windpipe, and gurgling sounds indicate a fluid buildup in the respiratory system. Cats do not normally breathe with their mouths open, so if your cat is panting with his mouth open, similar to how a dog normally does, he's having difficulty breathing. There are a number of reasons why your cat could be having trouble breathing, so call your veterinarian to see if they can pinpoint the cause and give you instructions for care.


Shock helps protect vital organs in an emergency, but it often kills the cat through cardiovascular collapse, even before he would have succumbed to his injuries. A good way to test for shock is to press firmly against the gum tissue inside the cat's mouth, and see how long the blanched zone takes to regain its pink color. If the cat is slow to respond or is acting confused or lethargic, it could be in the later stages of shock, in which case you will have to transport it to the vet immediately.

If you own a cat, you should be aware of how to respond if he has a medical emergency. The faster you get help for your cat, the more likely he is to survive.