How to save a choking cat

Animals also run the risk of ingesting an object that obstructs their breathing: here’s how to save a cat that suffocates.

Suffocation is a rather rare risk in the cat, being the feline an extremely cautious animal when it comes to feeding and in general towards what it does not know; but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. In these cases it is essential to know how to intervene promptly: here’s how to save a cat that suffocates and what is the technique to be performed.

Learn to recognize cat choking

Imagine for a moment that your cat is suffocating: the first reaction of most people would be that of fear and anxiety. Certainly it would not have been the best state to intervene promptly and adequately.

Maintaining calm and lucidity is necessary: first of all to understand if we are facing a real case of suffocation of the cat and if it needs care. Especially those who are beginners and have no experience could be misled.

It is absolutely normal for the cat to vomit the hairballs that it cannot expel by the intestine: but to a less experienced eye it may seem the unequivocal signal of suffocation in the cat.

The risk is more likely to occur during meals, when the cat may happen to ingest a larger portion of food; another time when it can occur is during the game.

The cat could grab an object and swallow it by mistake. These are rather rare eventualities but they can still occur.

How to save the stuffy cat

If the cat suffocates you will have to intervene promptly to save it. As we have said, the first thing is to maintain calm and lucidity to act in the best way; but it will be equally necessary to reassure the cat.

The reason is very simple: it could be the animal that is the main obstacle to your intervention operations. Feeling the air missing, the cat will be frightened and may show aggression, biting and scratching.

If you do not know how to calm the cat or you can’t, it will be appropriate to get help from another person. If the suffocation is due to an external cause (a wire rolled around the neck for example) it will be sufficient to remove the external body that obstructs breathing.

The operation will be more difficult where the object that obstructs the cat’s breathing is inside its body. Open the mouth of the animal: if you see the object stuck try to remove it, being careful not to slide it deep.

Use a pair of tweezers, the cat may have the reflex to bite you, hurting you and risking aggravating its situation.

Heimlich’s maneuver to save the suffocating cat

If you are not able to extract the object using a pair of tweezers because it is too deep or because it is stuck, you will have to resort to the Heimlich maneuver, a rescue technique for the suffocation of people, and which can also be used for our animal friends.

The technique consists in laying the cat’s back perpendicular to our chest, holding with your hands at the height of the last rib. More precisely, one hand will have to be placed in the shape of a fist, which will be surrounded by the other hand.

Thus positioned, with the hand closed in a fist, five abdominal thrusts upwards must be performed. Check if the object is ejected or is in a position where you can grab it with tweezers. If you do not have a positive response, you will have to beat five shots on the cat’s scapula; after that you will have to double-check the object inside the mouth.

Remember that the five abdominal thrusts and the five pressures on the scapula must be alternated, until the final expulsion of the object. The maneuver will be more difficult in case the cat is conscious, so it is very important to have help.

If you do not know how to perform the maneuver, go immediately to your veterinarian or to an emergency clinic. The timeliness of first aid to the animal is crucial to save your suffocating cat.

The visit to the veterinarian is advisable in any case, even in the event that you have managed to perform the Heimlich maneuver: the risk is that the cat may have suffered damage to the ribs.

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