Cat Health Procedures You Should Know How to Do

I spend a great deal of my days and nights attending to the health concerns of my aging 4-legged family. I administer medications and subcutaneous fluids to multiple cats daily, prepare and serve individual meals (by oral syringe, if necessary) multiple times a day, check litter boxes for signs of illness, weigh each of the cats every two weeks, and maintain medical spreadsheets on my computer for each cat with health issues. In addition to those routine activities, I attend to any extra veterinary issues that arise (like Tommy’s currently broken and healing leg).

OK, I can already hear you thinking (or perhaps even yelling at the screen), “THIS LADY’S CRAZY! This is what I pay a veterinarian big bucks to do!” That may be true, but unless a veterinarian lives in your home, your ability to do these things may mean the difference between life and death for your 4-legged companions.

I live 35 minutes from any veterinarian and 40 minutes from my preferred vet … and that’s during  regular business hours when my vet’s not in surgery or working on another emergency case. If one of my companion animals becomes seriously ill or injured after clinic hours or on a weekend (which seems always to be the case), I may not be able to get in touch with a vet for countless life-ebbing ticks of the clock. That, of course, is assuming that my regular vet isn’t out of town altogether, in which case I’m left scrambling to find an alternate veterinarian willing to see my now quickly failing beloved. If I have a pet who is life-threateningly injured or ill, I have to know how to keep that little soul alive until I can get to the vet clinic. So for those of us who don’t live within five minutes of a 24-hour veterinarian, I strongly recommend learning the following potentially lifesaving procedures. This list is in no way intended to substitute for necessary veterinary care. If there is the slightest doubt about a pet’s condition being serious enough to warrant veterinary attention, get to the vet ASAP! Most of the procedures I am listing here are stop-gap measures to stabilize the pet’s condition until you can get to the vet, though some are just handy things to knowThese procedures are equally important for cats and dogs, and some apply to other pets, as well.

  • Observe and recognize symptoms of illness
  • Check vital signs: temperature, pulse, and respiration.
  • Check for dehydration
  • Check the airway and know how to properly and safely dislodge objects causing choking
  • Administer injections
  • Administer subQ fluids
  • Administer oral and topical medications
  • Administer CPR
  • Clean and dress wounds, and treat minor wounds
  • Stop bleeding
  • Reduce fever
  • Ease congestion
  • Treat minor burns
  • Splint a bone break
  • Induce vomiting (and know when and when not to do it)
  • Check blood glucose (if your pet is diabetic)
  • Remove sutures and staples
  • Assist feed

A number of these skills and procedures can be learned online or in books, while you can ask your veterinarian to instruct you in others. I will also be writing more on each of these procedures in future blog entries (and perhaps adding more recommended skills to the list in the process).

I am particularly glad to have written the above list. In so doing, I realize that I am lacking in knowledge of some of these procedures myself. I will be doing more research and self-education to round out my own skill set. Google, here I come …

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3 Responses to Cat Health Procedures You Should Know How to Do

  1. Pingback: Being Prepared – A Pet Caretaker’s First Aid Kit | Turkeybutts, Monkeys, and Crabbies , OH MY!

  2. lfrazer says:

    I have witnessed a number of surgeries on my animals over the decades, and even assisted with anesthesia on the rare occasion, but performing surgery is a bit beyond my skill level. That said, I did have to cut a cat off of a garden tiller tine with an exacto knife once many years ago. Not something I would ever want to have to do again!

    Yes, there’s a grocery store – two, in fact – about 15 minutes from my farm. But there is no veterinarian in the nearest town. Definitely no street lamps outside my door, though I do have a 150 watt yard light mounted on a power pole halfway between my house and barn WITH an off switch! Millions of stars, too. Even the rare treat of the hypnotically beautiful Northern Lights.

    As far as muggers are concerned, does a wolf pack qualify? My local wolf pack has come into my yard twice after the dogs. I confronted the pack both times, apparently convincing them that getting past me wasn’t worth the effort.

    I think I’m 100 miles or so south of the Canadian border. We had a maddeningly late spring this year, with snow in May, but summer seems to finally be arriving. Still, everything about this spring has been late and abbreviated. No frost lately, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t still get some.

    BTW, I’ve been interrupted multiple times trying to type this response by Footsie walking across my keyboard and biting the top of my head, and by Tommy and BooBoo insisting on more breakfast, regardless of the fact that I put away the remnants of their first breakfast less than 30 minutes ago.

  3. mrwhatsit says:

    Wow, Lauri, about the only thing you’ve left off your list is surgery. I’m afraid I’m sadly lacking in most of your compilation of skills, but then the only I’d need to drive 40 miles in one direction would be in the case of Chicago being in the direct path of an asteroid.
    No, there’s are several veterinary clinics…well, at least 2…both within 3 to 5 minutes of here. Sounds like you live pretty far from the nearest town. Is there a grocery store within a 1/2 hours drive, for example?
    Having lived in Chicago most of my life, where everything one could possibly need is within a 10 or 15 minute drive, I think I’d find it hard to live in what sounds like such a remote location. I like the country and city traffic can make one crazy, and there are no stars visible at night because of the everywhere streetlights…. Still, I think if I were ever to go rural it would be closer to a small town. I read once that the best place to live is just outside a college town…that way you get the best of both worlds. A few miles out of Madison, Wis., say. There you’re never to far from essential services, not to mention cultural and cerebral stimulation and lots of lively younger people, but you also get the benefits of being away from the center of things. You’ve still distanced yourself from the car fumes, for example, and most of the cacaphony and horn-honkiness of city life, and yet you still get the benefits of fresh air and, if you’re far enough away from the town, might even be able to see the night sky and a few thousand stars. (There are no more stars over Chicago. Unjustified fear of crime due to sensationalized news reports made everyone so paranoid that 300 watt halogen street lights are virtually ubitquitous anywhere in the city at night. Walking outside after dark is almost like walking into a Walgreens. It wasn’t always like this. When I was growing up the streetlights of the ’50’s were ornate little things. And alley’s had no lights in them at all. I can still remember looking up and seeing the thousands of stars at night with my dad, right on our front porch. And, when Russia launched the first satellite circa 1958 or so (Sputnik) I can still remember a large portion of the neighborhood going outside to try to get a glimpse of it streaking overhead. And we could actually see it, too.
    The current situation is sad. The last two generations have been unable to see the milky way. That sense of awe gained by an awareness that we’re essentially surrounded by infinity has been lost…only to be replaced by video games, triviality and materialism/consumerism.
    (I’m not exaggerating about the street lights, either. If I walk out my front door to watch a thunderstorm, for example, there are 6 blinding, orange streetlamps casting multiple shadows of me back against the door in front of which I’m standing. And to what purpose? Crimes are generally limited to certain areas of the city. And even if there were some thugs out clonk you over the head and take your wallet, which there aren’t around here, the only purpose served by all the excess illumination would be to enable them to spot you coming from a longer way off. If you weren’t so lit up, they wouldn’t know if you were a policeman going for a walk, or what. The whole situation is tragic and absurd.
    Well, anyway, that’s the downside of life in the big city. Not sure how I got to this topic from that of cats, but it didn’t seem to take much effort. (Just sorta drifted.)
    And now I’ve got a hungry cat on my hands. Or at least one which will continue to vocalize virtually forever if I don’t give her some attention.

    Holy crap, she just walked on the keyboard and made this whole rambling discourse vanish temporarily. Time for me to split.

    I was going to go on to explain which of the necessary medical procedures on your list I WAS able to do, but at this point I’d better attend to the needs of my one cat before she pushes me beyond the boundries of sanity. (How do you manage to type your blogs with so many cats vying for your attention???)

    Thanks for the interesting blog. I’m looking forward to responding to the one about what I see when I see a cat, but actually that one requires more active synapses than I can currently access. Hopefully I’ll be sufficiently awake one of these days to give it a shot.

    How’s the weather up there? Are you close to the Canadian border? I’ve heard that parts of Minnesota are still having some frosty time. Whatever the case, hope you’re doing well.

    Take Care,

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