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Learn How to Perform CPR on a Pet & watch the video

If your pet stops breathing as the result of an accident, choking or similar injury, then you need to act quickly to clear the airway and get her to breathe again. The process is ABC - airway, breathing and circulation.

1.   Get out of danger's way. If you're tending to a cat in a roadway or driveway, get out of the way of traffic first.

2.   Place the unconscious or semi-conscious cat in the recovery position. Ensure that she is lying on something comfortable such as a coat or blanket to conserve heat and provide padding. Then proceed to follow ABC.

3.   Check the cat's 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.

4.   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.

5.   If there is no breathing, start artificial "mouth-to-nose" respiration:

   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.

6.   Check for circulation (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.

7.   If there is no heartbeat, start chest compression to give an external heart massage:

   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.

8.   Continue between breathing and heart massage. 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.

9.   Continuously check the cat for breathing and a 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.

CPR on a Dog / Cat

Cat CPR only

Cat CPR only


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Established: September 2008 / Updated: September 16, 2015

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