If your cat has been badly injured and is unconscious don’t presume he is dead.
This could happen to anyone but it appears to happen very rarely. But do we know how rarely? Bart, a black-and-white cat was hit by a car in Tampa, USA. His owner buried him. Bart had appeared lifeless. “Appeared” must be the important word because the owner – we don’t know his/her name – decided Bart was dead. Update: the owner is Ellis Wayne Hutson, 52. He says he was too distraught to bury his pet so he asked a neighbor to do it for him. He watched as his neighbour buried Bart.
Actually he was still alive and after being buried (not too thoroughly, it seems) Bart dug himself free after he regained consciousness and went home. He was in a mess and in a lot of pain with a destroyed eye, broken jaw and facial wounds but distinctly alive. It must have been a shock to the owner who had buried him. I bet he thought he’d seen a ghost.
The veterinary bill to treat him was too expensive for the owner so the Human Society of Tampa Bay stepped in. Dusty Albittron, a neighbour is raising funds only for further treatment. Her target was $1,500. So far she has raised around $4,000!
The vets believe that he’ll make a decent recovery after losing his damaged eye.
The story begs the question, do we check that our cat is deceased if he has been involved in a car accident and looks dead?
I think this is a serious question because a cat could well be unconscious but breathing shallowly.
It is very easy to make a presumption that your cat has been killed on the road. Do you know how to check for signs of life? What if he is still alive and what if you jump to the conclusion he is dead but do nothing for a while. You decide to take him to your vet later on and then have him cremated. Let’s say your cat remains alive but unconscious for the next three hours. He could be saved with emergency veterinary attention but you miss the moment. He dies.
You don’t know he died three hours after you found him and brought him home in a cardboard box.
It seems that if there is any doubt whether your cat is alive he should be taken to the vet as an emergency and decisions and actions taken from there. That should be the default position.
Do most people do that?
Is your cat breathing? Feel the his breath against your cheek. Check for rise and fall of his chest. Does he have a pulse? You can feel for the femoral artery which is located in the groin. Alternatively, the heartbeat can be detected by placing ‘your hand under and around the cat’s chest an compress very lightly to feel for a heartbeat’.
If your cat is breathing pull out the tongue and clear the airway and observe. If your cat is not breathing check for a pulse. If there is a pulse start artificial respiration. If your cat is not breathing start CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation.