Some of you may not be aware that it is actually possible to apply CPR to cats and dogs. It’s important to know this, though, as one day you might be called on to save the life of a furbaby. CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.
CPR is a combination of mouth-to-mouth breathing and chest compressions which helps to keep blood and oxygen circulating to the heart and brain of a being whose heart has stopped beating. Mouth-to-mouth, you ask? Absolutely!
Anyway, anyone who loves a furbaby has done their fair share of kissing them, so mouth-to-mouth won’t be a problem.
How to give CPR
If you do find yourself in a situation where a cat (perhaps yours) has stopped breathing, then follow these steps:
1. Make sure the area is safe
If you are doing CPR in a roadway or driveway, make sure you move yourself and the patient out of harm’s way.
Place the unconscious or semi-conscious cat in the recovery position
Place the patient on a comfortable warm surface or blanket in a reclining position. Put them on their back if possible, or slightly to the side.
2. Check the airway
Open her mouth gently but widely. Draw the tongue right forward and remove anything that is creating an obvious obstruction such as blood, vomit or an object. Swab away any excess saliva or blood. You may notice that her tongue is blue-black; also skin, eyes and nail areas can give off a bluish hue. This is all caused by a lack of oxygen. Don’t try to dislodge anything wedged in, as this can cause further damage. Get her straight to the vet.
3. Check for breathing
You can do this by checking the chest and the facial areas. For the chest, look to see chest movement up and down. For the face, hold a mirror to her mouth and nose. If it mists and clears, she is breathing. Or, you can hold a tiny piece of tissue in front of her nose to see if it moves.
4. If there is no breathing, start CPR
Hold her mouth shut. You do this by cupping your hands on either side of the mouth and drawing down so that air cannot escape through the mouth. Cover her nose with your mouth. Breathe up the cat’s nostrils very gently. Use approximately 10-30 breaths per minute. Take your mouth away from her nose in between breaths to allow her to exhale.
5. Check for heartbeat
On the left hand side of the cat’s chest, place your ear gently on the cat’s chest. Listen. Check for a pulse. Place a couple of fingers either on the heart spot or inside the cat’s thigh in her groin area.
6. If there is no heartbeat, start chest compressions
Place one hand either side of the cat’s chest, just behind where “elbows” are. Squeeze the chest gently and smoothly. Give two compressions every second using the flat of your hand. Do not use your fingers to do this! Be aware that the ribs are very fragile, so don’t use too much force.
7. Continue alternating between breathing and chest compressions
Give two breaths for every four compressions. Keep doing this until the heart begins to beat again or the vet takes over. It’s a good idea to have a helper. Take turns every two minutes. That way, neither of you will fatigue as quickly.
8. Continuously check for breathing and heartbeat or pulse
When the cat does start to breathe on her own again, keep her under very close observation. Get her to the vet for a thorough check up and to fix any injuries or bleeding. A vet visit is vital. She needs to be checked for internal injuries and fractures or broken bones. In some cases, emergency surgery may be required after she has stabilized. Your pet may still be in shock. A cat in shock must be treated by the vet.
What to do – video demonstration
Please watch this demonstration. This is how you give your cat CPR.
Fun Video – what not to do
This one is provided purely for your entertainment only (you’ll understand when you watch it).
What not to do: Firstly, a cat can’t really give CPR to another cat 🙂 Secondly, this is NOT where the heart is 🙂 Although the cuteness is off the scale!
I hope that if you ever have to save an animal’s life, you’ll know what to do.
And if you have ever given CPR to an animal, please let us know! –BJ
About the Author: BJ Burman
BJ Burman is a writer, researcher, healer, advisor and teacher. All through her childhood and adult life, she has shared her life with animals, every one of them dearly loved. She is also a passionate supporter of animal rights and animal conservation.
In addition, BJ has always been interested in spirituality and religion, both academically and personally. When she became personally involved in Eastern philosophy and religion, she became specifically interested in death & dying (and what really happens to us).
Over the years, she has studied and researched the subject of death & dying, and the associated grief, particularly from a spiritual perspective, under the guidance of respected Buddhist, Hindu and Christian teachers from the USA, Britain and Australia. These great traditions, have so much to teach on the reality of life and death.
BJ has worked in the education sector for nearly 20 years, as a teacher (particularly in a pastoral care role) of adolescents and adults, helping them to not only navigate their path in education, but also navigate their way through personal life obstacles for the happiest outcomes.
Bj holds a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, a Graduate Diploma of Teaching, Graduate qualifications in Linguistics/TESOL, Masters in Comparative World Religions and is a published author for national and international magazine print publications in the field of health and well-being.
It seems only natural to her to combine her love of animals with her interest in death & dying to create a genuinely compassionate and supportive forum for humans who must say good-bye to the animals they love so much.
It is BJ's deep desire to provide guidance and comfort for humans to help their beloved animals live and die in peace.