First Aid for Cats - Cat Info Detective

First Aid for Cats

Skye Blake looking left through magnifying glass

Hey, Skye Blake here, reminding you to have a first aid kit handy for cat mishaps so you can help your buddy in time of crisis.

Ow, just caught my tail in the door! Ok, catching my tail in the door isn’t a crisis, but it still deserves a hug!

paw prints coming in from a distance

So, what should you include in a first aid kit-ty? (Get it? hehe)

Cartoon tough injured cat

Nothing replaces getting your kitty to the vet in an emergency, but planning ahead, learning what to do, and having a first aid kit for cats, will prepare you to handle situations without panicking.

It’s especially important to think about first aid if you plan to travel with your cat.

First Aid Prep – Meds & Traveling Papers

first aid kit-scissors, bandages, etc

Here are some things to be aware of when preparing for a trip with your kitty…

  • Always check with your vet to be sure you have what your cat might need according to his age and health.
  • When traveling with a cat who needs medications, pack enough to last the entire trip (and a little extra for emergencies).
  • Be sure they’re kept in a waterproof container.
tabby cat and kitten outside
  • Make sure your cat is up-to-date on flea and tick prevention treatments. Use what your vet recommends.

Some products aren’t reliable and can even be dangerous, especially if your cat has medical problems.

  • Take all current medical records, the latest vet visit summary, extra prescriptions, and vaccination records, especially proof of rabies vaccination.
veterinarian listening to a cat's heart
  • Keep them with your other important documents (driver’s license, credit cards, etc.) so they’re easily available to show when required.
  • Have a current photo of your cat (and who doesn’t? We’re so adorable!)… both on your phone and in print.
  • Keep the print one with the vaccination records in case you don’t have your phone in an emergency.

Pet First-Aid Courses

first aid on a teddy bear

Taking a pet first-aid course is a great idea, especially for those who have multiple cats, travel with them, or are involved in caring for strays.

These first-aid courses include information about cat CPR, how to check vital signs, and dealing with wounds, seizures, etc.

(For your information only. I make no money from them.)

What to Include in Your First Aid Kit

first aid kit

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Ready-Made First Aid Kits

You can buy kits ready-made online for home and travel. Here are a few options… you can add anything it doesn’t have already for cats.

Travelin’ Kitty Kit

travelin' cat carrying luggage on back

Pack a separate small first aid kit in a waterproof box that you can tuck in your bag or backpack to grab easily.

Tape on the inside cover and program into your phone…

  • your vet and emergency clinic names and phone #’s
  • include the same for your destination vets (if available)

Do-It-Yourself First Aid Kit

first aid kit items

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

If you prefer to create your own kit-ty, first be sure the bag or box you use is waterproof or has a waterproof liner.

Then gather these items to put in it (you may already have some). If you’re resourceful, you can find ways to use some things you have rather than buy them.

  • Plastic bags – whatever you have on hand like grocery or self-sealing storage bags (for medical trash, etc.)
  • Matches
Cat First-Aid Book
Pet Clotting Powder

Clotting powder is used to stop bleeding – available at medical supply stores and online

A Cat-Size Muzzle

Muzzles are necessary when dealing with injured cats, since they’ll bite when in pain or afraid.

They come in different sizes and are available both at pet stores and online.

A Small Blanket, Towels, or Restraining Bag

Blankets and towels are great for many emergency situations, especially to “burrito” him when he’s scared.

Some people prefer using a restraining bag specially made for cats.

Those listed here are fully enclosed… they don’t allow paws to be outside the bag.

A Pair of Heavy Gloves

Heavy duty gloves are a must-have for all kinds of situations.

The long ones are best to protect your forearms from flailing claws and teeth.

Basic heavy gloves can be found at hardware stores and should be fine, but specialized pet gloves are online (or possibly at pet stores).

Be sure they’re the right size for you.

Non-Stick Bandages or Strips of Clean Cloth

Bandages are used for cleaning wounds and to control bleeding.

Don’t use Band-Aids® or other human bandages since they’re too sticky on fur and skin.

Strips of clean cloth, especially cotton, like old diapers, tea towels, or sheets, do well as bandages when taped or wrapped in self-adhering vet wrap.

Here are a few specialty bandages made for pets…

All the items listed below can be found at your local drugstore, grocery or superstore. Some online options are given with each.

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Gauze Pads

These are used to cover open wounds and then either taped or wrapped.

Adhesive Tape

Adhesive tape is only for taping bandages… don’t use it on your cat’s fur or skin!

Self-Adhering Wrap for Pets

This is the type of wrap used by vets to cover bandages or gauze. It sticks only to itself, not fur or skin.

Adhesive Spray Bandages

Spray bandages are a convenient way to cover wounds and allow them to breathe while healing.

Adhesive spray can get into awkward spots where regular bandages might not stay in place.

Cotton Balls and Swabs

Don’t use swabs in eyes or ears unless you’ve been shown how by your vet.

They usually recommend wiping the inside of your cat’s ears with cotton balls instead.

A Bottle of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide

A fresh unopened bottle is most effective at killing germs. It’s only used to sterilize tweezers, your hands, etc. Don’t use it on wounds!

A Pet Medicine Syringe

Pet syringes are useful for giving liquid medicine, water, pills, etc. Read the description carefully to be sure it’s the kind you want.

Lubricating Jelly

Any lubricating jelly is fine and is used to help remove a stuck paw, among other things. Don’t use petroleum jelly.

Sterile Wound Wash or Saline Eye Solution

These are used for flushing eyes or washing wounds.

If you’re dealing with an eye problem, it’s best to talk to a veterinarian before doing anything (if you’re able).

A Broad-Spectrum Antibiotic Cream

Antibiotic cream (like Neosporin®) is used to put on a bandage before covering a wound.

It helps prevent infection and promote healing.

Mild Liquid Dishwashing Detergent

Certain dishwasher detergents are used to remove oils from animal fur and skin (and you can wash your hands too!).

Original Dawn® is one most commonly used with animals but any mild soap that doesn’t have extra scent will do.

Many animals are sensitive to strong odors and will be upset by lavender, lemon and other scents.

Disposable Gloves

These gloves are helpful when you’re cleaning and bandaging wounds, applying medication, or otherwise touching an injured animal.

They’re more hygienic than bare hands and help prevent transmission of bacteria.

If you’re allergic to latex, be sure they’re made of vinyl or other materials.

Antiseptic Wipes, Spray or Lotion

These are always helpful when you need to clean a small area.

Tweezers and/or Tick Remover

Tweezers are great for removing thorns, splinters, ticks, etc. There are special tick removers available as well.

Blunt-End Scissors

Blunt-end scissors are very important for cutting bandages, foam splints, and other things, while protecting your kitty’s skin.

An Ice Pack

You’re probably familiar with ice packs from your own injuries.

They’re also used in delivery packages that must be kept cold (like food or medications).

Instant packs are good for camping or other travel where you don’t have access to a freezer.

If you don’t have any, here are a few options…

Use Only At the Direction of a Veterinarian

There are a few items you can have at home or in a first aid kit-ty but only use at the direction of a veterinarian.

vet holding 2 adolescent kittens
Foam Splint

Foam splints are great to have in emergency situations when you’re dealing with broken bones or other injuries that need stabilization.

Check with your vet to be sure you’re getting the right type for cats.

The ones generally available online are for humans but can be adapted for pets. Finger splints might be a good size for cat paws.

They should be used only by someone trained in first aid (check the classes listed above) or at the instruction of a veterinarian.

Rectal Thermometer for Cats

It’s important to ask your vet what type of thermometer to use.

There are some pet ones that are used outside the ear, but it’s not clear how accurate they are.

Use any thermometer only if your cat lets you and you’re comfortable doing it.

Never put a thermometer in a cat’s mouth or ear.

Diphenhydramine

This is medication used for some allergic reactions (similar to Benadryl).

Talk to your vet about whether or not you may need to have this, especially if you’re traveling with your cat.

Poisoning

poison warning sign

If you believe your cat has been poisoned, call…

Poison Control hotline – (888) 426-4435

These items are good to have available but should not be used unless you’re experienced in first aid or instructed to do so by either a vet or the poison control center.

In most cases you’re both better off going to the nearest animal emergency clinic or your vet, where experts can properly care for your buddy.

Time is of the essence when dealing with any poison or venom.

Milk of Magnesia or Activated Charcoal
charcoal - litter

These are used to draw poison out of the digestive system, keeping it from entering the bloodstream.

Success with this depends a lot on how quickly it gets in your cat’s system.

Always call the poison control center or a vet first because not all poisons are the same.

They affect the body in different ways and must be dealt with according to what type they are.

danger poison sign

You can do more harm than good if you aren’t experienced in dealing with them.

If you’re planning to camp, hike or go on other outdoor adventures with your cat, you may not have cell phone service or be near a vet.

It’s highly recommended you take a first aid course for pets before any feline adventures. You’ll be glad you did.

Discover more about feline travel at “Camping With a Cat“, “Biking With Your Cat” and “Preparing For a Trip“.

First Aid Cat Care Videos

Cameras for videos

Note: While videos can be helpful, the reliability of many is questionable.

You’re much better off taking a certified class in first aid to be sure you’re trained well enough to handle most emergencies, especially if you take your cat on wilderness adventures.

If you have even the slightest question about a situation, call your vet’s office (or emergency clinic) immediately.

first aid on a teddy bear - vet

Here are a few decent videos on first aid…

ASPCA Poison Control Center videos

Cat First Aid You Should Know | Cat Care, HowCast.com, Jan 14, 2014

Cat Wound Care, PetMD, June 19, 2017

How To Help My Cat When Vets Are Closed – BASIC FIRST AID, Relax My Cat, May 13, 2020


You & Your Traveling CatPreparing For a Trip
Moving With a Cat…An Adventure!What Mode of Transportation Are You Using?
Air Travel With a CatWhat Is Your Travel Destination?
Biking With Your CatCamping With a Cat
Symptoms of Illness In Your CatHistory of Veterinary Medicine
What Does a Veterinarian Do? Veterinary Specialists – What Kinds Are There?
CBD Oil For Cats – What Is It? Does It Work? Using CBD For Cats

Sources

Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.

Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own.

However, sometimes they refer to primary sources.

When I use secondary sources most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

“77 Things to Know Before Getting a Cat”, by Susan M. Ewing, Companion House Books, Fox Chapel Publishers International, Ltd., 2018, pp. 178-181

Cat and Dog First Aid Online, American Red Cross

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting & Owning a Cat”, by Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D., Alpha Books, Penguin Group (USA), Inc., New York, NY, 2005, pp. 170-1, 201-214

“First Aid Kits for Pets”, Banfield Animal Hospital®, an affiliate of Mars, Incorporated, 2021

First Aid for Dogs and Cats“, My CPR Now™, 2020

“How to Easily Put Together a First-Aid Kit for Your Cat”, by Jason Nicholas, BVetMed, Preventative Vet, Published: April 2, 2018, Updated: January 28, 2020

“Think Like a Cat, How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat – Not a Sour Puss”, by Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, Penguin Books, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, New York, NY, 2000, 2011, pp. 306-309

What to include in your cat’s first-aid kit”, by Laura Moss, Adventure Cats™, April 3, 2016

Updated June 23, 2022

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