Cat CPR refers to the act of a person doing CPR on a cat in an emergency situation such as drowning or other cardiac condition. It doesn’t refer to a cat doing CPR on a person though that would be pretty cool. (Most cats we know would walk the other way and seeks a new owner.) Every cat owner should take the time to learn cat CPR. The American Red Cross offers cat CPR and first aid classes with certification.
If you know CPR for humans, you already know half the things necessary to perform CPR on a cat. Cats naturally have a faster heart rate than humans, approximately 100-120 beats per minute. This is closer to an infant’s pulse.
Get A Baseline Pulse
It’s wise to take your cat’s pulse when she is resting and after she has been playing. This gives you a good baseline for her normal heart rate. You’ll want this when evaluating an emergency situation.
Performing cat CPR could save your cat’s life and is a key part of pet first aid that every cat and cat owners should know. It isn’t that hard and by taking the time to locate the right places on your cat, you will be better prepared in any emergency situation.
Evaluate Before Performing Cat CPR
Just like with human emergency situations, you want to evaluate what is happening if your cat falls unconscious for any reason.
Here are the first things to do in evaluating an emergency situation:
- Is your cat breathing: Put your hand in front of your cat’s nose to see if you can feel any breath. Look for a rise and fall in her chest.
- Check for obstructions: If your cat is not breathing, pull her tongue from her mouth (it can come out a good ways) and look for an obstruction. Do an abdominal thrust if she is choking. Cats have tiny bones in their throat, don’t mistake these for obstructions.
- Look at her gums: Gray or bluish gums signify a lack of oxygen. For cats with dark colored gums, look at your cat’s tongue.
- Find her pulse: The femoral artery is the easiest place to find a cat’s pulse. This is located on her inner thigh where the hind leg meets the body.
NOTE: If you cat has a pulse, DO NOT PERFORM CPR. Provide artificial respiration only!
- Prepare to Perform CPR: If your cat is not laying on her right side (with is left side exposed to you), roll her over. This is where you will be able to access her heart.
Doing Cat CPR
WARNING: Please do not practice actual CPR on a healthy cat. The chest compressions can seriously injure your cat. It is fine to locate the right body parts, but DO NOT do compressions.
Step 1: Properly Position Cat – CPR Preparation
Lay your cat on a hard, flat surface with her RIGHT side on the table. You will work on the LEFT side where her heart is better exposed.
Align her spine as much as possible by straightening her head and neck. This opens the airway.
Pull her tongue forward handing out of her mouth and shut her mouth.
Step 2: Locate the Heart
Locate the heart by gently bending her front leg as far as it will go. Where her elbow rests is the location of her heart.
Place one hand on her sternum and heart and one behind her so you can push your palms toward each other.
Step 3: Cat CPR Compressions
Keep arms firm and straight. Push down on the rib cage in quick thrusts. You should go down approximately ¼ of her chest width.
Perform 15 chest compressions quickly. The rate is 15 compressions in 10 seconds. Smaller cats have a faster heart rate and need 17 compressions in 10 seconds.
Allow her chest to fully recoil.
Step 4: Give an Artificial Respiration Breath
After 15 chest compressions, give your cat one artificial respiration breath.
Hold your cat’s muzzle closed, sealing her lips with both of your hands. Place your mouth over her nostrils and blow gently. This is similar to a “puff” used in infant CPR because the lungs are so small. You don’t want to overinflate them.
Look for her chest to expand.
Step 5: Repeat Compressions and Artificial Breath
Continue cat CPR by repeating steps 3-4. For every 15-17 compressions, perform one artificial breath and one abdominal squeeze. Note, you can also do 30 compressions with two breaths. Both are acceptable.
Repeat until cat is either breathing or 20 minutes have passed. After this duration, it is unlikely you will resuscitate your cat.
After Cat CPR
It is imperative to take any cat, even after being resuscitated, to an animal emergency clinic or your veterinarian for a full examination.
Cat CPR is extremely hard on a cat’s body on top of the trauma that led to the emergency incident. Performing cat CPR can result in broken ribs, collapsed lungs and stress for your cat. Get them medical attention immediately and also evaluate the issue that led to the collapse.
Potential Reasons for Cat First Aid
Your cat may require cat first aid or cat CPR for any number of health or environmental reasons. Common problems include cat drowning where a cat falls in a pool or lake and is unable to swim or tires before being rescued.
Another common problem is congenital heart conditions that could lead to cardiac arrest. It is also possible that your cat has an allergic reaction to an insect bite or is bit by a snake or other venomous predator. Learn pet first aid and have a pet first aid kit on hand for various medical emergencies and pet injuries.
When evaluating, do your best to assess what causes your cat to fall unconscious and stop breathing. This will help your veterinarian better treat him when she gets to the animal hospital.
REMEMBER: NEVER PERFORM CAT CPR ON A HEALTHY CAT. It is fine to locate her pulse and where her heart is, but doing compressions could lead to injury and is dangerous.
Be Safe Smart!