HomeCat HealthCPRPerforming CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) on Cats


Performing CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) on Cats — 15 Comments

  1. The above method can also save a cat from choking to death if he has something lodged in the back of his mouth or throat, which you can’t reach to remove.

  2. Starting vet nursing in the 1960s I was taught by the vet to save a cat’s life who had stopped breathing, by picking him up by the back legs and swinging him, it sounds brutal I know but it does work.
    The action usually shocks the cat to take a breath and carry on breathing.
    Apparently Alf Wight (pen name James Heriot who wrote the All Creatures Great and Small books) used this method.
    Thankfully I didn’t have to do this many times over the years but the times I did, the cat always lived and recovered.
    As Babz says though, in some cases it’s best the cat is allowed to go because of the very real danger of brain damage if he doesn’t respond quickly.

      • We didn’t have all the equipment and drugs those days that vets have now and some of the old methods look a bit barbaric, but they worked.

          • Yes Michael that’s correct, I can only think of very few times a cat stopped breathing.
            I think before all the fancy machines they have nowadays we were more vigilant watching the actual patient too, not a machine showing their condition.
            One of our cats Popsy was in for x rays under anaesthetic a few years back and stopped breathing, being told that on the phone was the most awful feeling, even though they had brought her back. She died a few weeks later of the chest complaint they couldn’t diagnose, we were on our way in the car to see a cat’s chest specialist, so maybe it was meant to be. We still don’t know what was wrong and changed practices after we lost her because we should have been referred to a specialist sooner, he was only 3 miles away from us had we but known it!

      • I performed the Heimlich Maneuver on a cat once. It only works if the airway is completely blocked, which it was. I was in my second year if college at the time, but I still remembered my first aid/CPR training from high school. I knew from my training that she was choking and that her airway was totally blocked and I knew to grab just below the cat’s rib cage and give a good hard thrust, just as you would for a human. The food she was choking on shot right out of her mouth. She would have died had I not been there and thought to give a quick, hard squeeze in the right place. So the training I received in high school saved a life– not a human life, but a life none the less.

        • Fantastic, Ruth. I think it’s essential that people with animals learn lifesaving techniques,
          How horrifying would it have been to just watch your cat choke to death and feel helpless?
          These techniques empower us.

  3. Thanks, Barbara. I’ve never really talked to anyone about those 3 days. I suffered over it for some time afterward, questioning whether I had made all of the right decisions and if all that happened was in Chester’s best interest.
    I made my peace, knowing that he never seemed to suffer
    and that I hadn’t caused him harm. And, I tucked it all away.

    • Hey Dee – I have been super busy so only getting to some articles now – thanks for sharing this, I learned from it but it is also very sad. I am sure it was hard to write about it. Poor Chester. You really took care of him and did your best for him. I’m sure he appreciated how much you loved and cared for him in his last days. How you must have been heartbroken. It’s so hard.

      I had no idea where to even begin with CPR for cats – thanks alot for the info too. You must miss Chester – its a space that can never be filled when you lose a cat you love so much. I’m sorry for your loss.

      • Dee, is exceptional in that she has actually done CPR on cats. That must be as rare as hens teeth. I’d bet some vets haven’t done it.

        I’ve been playing Scrabble at the Hurlingham Club in Fulham, next to the Thames with a drink aftewards. Beautiful place and nice company. Doesn’t get much better.

  4. A really interesting and important article Dee, thank you for sharing your knowledge with us, I can think of only one occasion where perhaps I might have tried this but I think it would have failed. I’ve done CPR training at work but thankfully have never had to use it and hope it stays that way. I’m so sad for you that Chester didn’t respond but maybe it was the best way for him to go, safely in your arms, when the outlook wasn’t very good.

  5. Thanks Dee for taking the time to write this. Everyone looking after a cat should know to do it. I found the article sad though. It was brave of you to care for Chester when he was so ill.

    The actual CPR bit is harrowing. Makes me feel sad.

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