Feline First Aid

All homes should have a first aid kit. It's just a logical precaution for you and your family. However, your pets may need first aid at some time in their lives, too. Being able to provide immediate care after an injury, for example, can save your cat's life, or at least provide comfort while on the way to the vet's office.

First, you must realize that if your cat is indoor / outdoor, or totally outdoor, the chances of needing first aid are much greater than for a completely indoor cat. While any cat can get into something toxic or harmful, or can be injured in a fall or accident, these possibilities are much greater for outdoor cats.

It's imperative that all pet owners become educated on first aid as well as having the correct tools in a kit, stored in a handy location. You do not want to be rummaging through cupboards or the garage looking for the kit if you need it. Remember, "first aid" goes with "emergency."

Here are some items to obtain right away:

1. First Aid Book. You do not have to read it from cover to cover, but do spend some time scanning through it, so you know how it's organized. Should you need information from it later, you'll know how to look it up.

2. First Aid Kit. This can be a box, a large baggie, or a zipper case, easily stored in a specified location for easy access at any time. In it, you will have a roll of gauze, a roll of surgical tape, scissors, 1% to 3% hydrogen peroxide, gloves, blanket or towel, saline eye wash, thermometer, flashlight, tweezers, baking soda, and a pillow case , used for transporting the cat if you do not have a pet taxi.

3. A small book or folder with emergency phone numbers: vet's office, police or animal control, a friend or neighbor, a rescue shelter, poison control center.

4. A book on general cat care. It helps to learn as much as you can about cat care so you are able to identify changes in normal behavior and how to approach your cat if she's not feeling well.

Before you actually need any of these things, it's a good idea to visit your vet and get a short "course" on how to do things with your cat, such as correct lifting when injured, how to wrap a bandage, how to give eye drops or pills, how to clean their ears, how to look inside the mouth, how to take her temperature, and how to manage small wounds before getting her to the clinic.

Remember, too, that a sick or injured cat will be difficult to control. They do not feel well, they are frightened, and usually feel threatened. They may feel they need to defend themselves, so watch out for claws and teeth. They are not being vicious … they are scared. Speak soothingly, and do not make eye contact, as that is seen as a threat, too. If you are not able to handle the cat, or it's not your cat and you're afraid to approach it, call for help.