13 facts about shock in cats

What causes shock in cats? The answer is here plus more facts.

Cat panting is a possible sign of shock
Cat panting is a possible sign of shock. Image: MikeB.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.
  1. The cause of shock in a domestic cat is insufficient blood flow and oxygen in the cat’s body to meet their needs.
  2. The reason why this might happen could be a number of events the most common of which are a cat falling from a height or being hit by a car. Both can cause traumatic shock.
  3. Insufficient blood flow can be caused by an ineffective heart which is not pumping enough blood, blood vessels which are not intact and therefore carrying blood ineffectively and/or insufficient blood volume to maintain flow and pressure because of bleeding.
  4. Insufficient oxygenation can be caused by insufficient energy to breath or a respiratory tract which is not open which blocks efficient breathing.
  5. When a cat is in shock, they try to compensate for an inadequate amount of oxygen being provided to the system and a lack of blood flow by increasing their heart and respiratory rates. They also constrict the blood vessels in the skin and also reduce urinary output which maintains fluid in the circulatory system.
  6. The extra effort to compensate can help to perpetuate shock because it requires additional energy when the organs are not getting enough oxygen to carry out normal activities. When shock become self-perpetuating it can result in death.
  7. Other than traumatic shock mentioned above, other causes are dehydration which is often caused by prolonged vomiting and diarrhoea, heatstroke, poisoning, severe infections and large-scale bleeding.
  8. The signs of shock at an early stage include panting, a high pulse, a rapid heart rate and the colour of the mucous membranes of the tongue, gums and lips are bright red. These signs might not be considered to be severe enough to indicate shock, but the later signs will be.
  9. The later signs are pale skin and mucous membranes, a drop in the cat’s body temperature, cold legs and feet, slow breathing, depression and apathy, unconsciousness and a week pulse or the pulse might be absent.
  10. My book on home treatment tells me that if you believe your cat is in shock you should proceed with CPR which includes artificial respiration and heart massage. You can read about that by clicking on this link.
  11. If your cat is bleeding it needs to be controlled urgently (obviously).
  12. Further things you can do before heading off to the nearest veterinary hospital would be to keep your cat calm and speak quietly and soothingly, try to encourage your cat to rest in a comfortable position, if any bones are broken try and support and/or splint broken bones before moving your cat, and wrap your cat in a blanket to provide warmth and to protect injuries.
  13. The important thing is to get your cat to the vet as a matter of urgency in a careful and controlled way. That goes without saying but I’ve mentioned it just in case 😎💓.

The information comes from the best book on home veterinary care namely, Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, a book that I would heartily recommend to any cat owner. It is always useful to have some knowledge of cat health and home treatments provided you know your limits and stick to them. There is no substitute for good veterinary care when required. And it should be sought promptly.

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