It is a good idea to have a first aid box ready and prepared in case of emergencies. Here is what you should keep in it.
Contact details for your vet and out of hours vet
You should register your cat with your chosen veterinarian as soon as you can. Registering means they have all your cat’s details on file and if your cat has previously used a different veterinarian, ask your current practice to call them to get your cat’s full history. This is really important as your cat may have allergies which another vet may have noted, as well as any other important details about your pet such as if they have had a reaction to a certain drug. Make sure you have the vet’s number and address stored somewhere safely.
Not all vets use the same staff for out of hours for emergencies. Ask your vet what their out of hours procedure is as many outsource this service. As out of hours can be run by another company, make sure you have their number too as it will differ to your normal vets. Most surgeries will advise of their hours on their answerphone, however, it’s better to be organised and do the leg work now, as it’s one less thing to worry about if your cat is unwell.
A secure carrier
If your cat is unwell and needs to go to the vet, a secure carrier is the safest option. There are different types – there are wire ones like this that open at the top and allow your cat to see out. You can get covers for these carriers to make it darker for your cat.
Fabric carriers are another option. They are cosier than a wire carrier and many have zips on the front and top for easy access. Most will have straps making them easier for you to carry perhaps over your shoulder. Fabric ones can be hard to clean if your cat has an accident in the carrier, so keep that in mind.
There are also plastic carriers with a front door. If you go for a plastic one, choose one that you can unclip the top section from the base as a scared cat may not want to leave the carrier and it’s much nicer for them to unclip the top than have to resort to dragging them out the front.
A thick towel
A scared or injured cat may behave differently and many will use their claws and teeth if they are in pain. By wrapping them in a towel, you will not only protect yourself but it can also help to calm them down. A towel can also be draped over their carrier to make it dark for them and reduce stress.
Gloves and hand sanitizer
Syringes are good for flushing wounds or administering any medicine as directed by your vet.
Saline is used to flush out wounds, such as bite wounds before bandaging them.
Tweezers can be used to remove foreign bodies, such as thorns, grass seeds or stingers from your cat.
A cat’s temperature can be taken rectally using a digital thermometer. You should ask a vet to show you how to do this before doing it yourself. To take a cat’s temperature, put some Vaseline on the end of the thermometer and gently insert it into your cat’s rectum. A cat’s temperature should be 38 and 39 degrees Celsius.
Nursing scissors are bent at the end, which will allow you to cut the bandage material without accidentally cutting your cat.
Gauze can be as a primary layer of a bandage or to stem a bleed. Ideally, you should have clean hands and wear gloves, before applying pressure to the wound.
Bandages are comprised of three layers – a padded layer (a roll of cotton wool could also be used), a conforming layer and a self-adhesive layer to hold it all together. The self-adhesive bandage will constrict when wet so care must be taken if using it. To apply it properly, unroll a small amount, place it around the limb and then roll out some more. Never wrap it tightly and only use this to get your cat to the vet – if you need to use it long term, ask your vet to show you how to place it correctly and safely.
If your cat has a cut, you must use gauze first as the padded layer of bandage will stick to open wounds.
Surgical sticky tape
This can help you to keep a bandage in place. The tape can also be used to secure a splint.
Cotton wool balls are good to use around ears and eyes. Don’t use them to bandage around wounds though as they are fluffy and can stick to the healing area.
An Elizabethan collar
An Elizabethan collar is used to prevent your cat from licking or bothering a wound. There are lots of different types, from the traditional plastic ones to fabric ones and even inflatable ones. There are also recovery vests if your pet protests too much about a collar.
A foil blanket can be used if your cat is hypothermic to help raise their body temperature whilst you travel to the vets.
Cold packs can be used to decrease inflammation and swelling after an injury or sting. Don’t leave your cat unattended with a cold pack as they could harm them if ingested.
Antibacterial sprays are good to have to hand should your cat get a cut, scrape, hot spot or abrasion. After cleaning with saline, the spray can be applied.
Vetericyn Plus Antimicrobial Wound and Skin Care can be sprayed directly on the wound or F10 Wound spray not only applies an antiseptic barrier but also is an insecticide to repel flies.
Ticks can be easily picked up in the long grass and can carry Lyme’s disease. A tick remover makes removing them much easier, just hook it under the tick and twist and the tick should detach itself. Inspect the tick to ensure the head and legs are attached as they can cause problems if left in your cat – this is why you should never pull or burn a tick off.
That should cover all the basics! Hopefully, you will never need to use any of it, but it’s always better to have a first aid kit just in case your cat needs it.
Please note, this blog is not to replace veterinary advice. Your vet should always be contacted should you have any concerns regarding your cat.