First Aid for Cats: When to Consult a Veterinarian


When a cat is sick or injured, it's important to know how to provide first aid. The sooner you can get your cat to a veterinarian, the better your kitty's chances are of recovering quickly and completely. Read on for tips on what kind of injuries and illnesses require veterinary care and when calling the vet is absolutely necessary.

Cat First Aid Kit

  • Keep a first aid kit in your home.
  • Include:
  • Bandages and gauze pads for small cuts or scrapes on the skin (you can use human bandaids).
  • Tweezers for removing splinters, ticks, etc.
  • Rubbing alcohol to clean wounds before applying antibiotic ointment or antiseptic cream. Also useful if you need to sterilize tweezers or other tools after removing foreign objects from your cat's skin or eyes; just dab some alcohol onto them first!
  • An antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin Liquid Topical Antimicrobial Ointment 0.5% (one tube per person per year) is great for preventing infection when treating minor cuts that don't require stitches--just apply it directly to open wounds before covering with gauze bandage strips until they heal up nicely on their own over time without getting infected again later down the road once exposed again through movement etc., especially since cats' immune systems aren't quite as strong compared with ours due largely due to lack of antibodies produced naturally within us humans which might otherwise help fight off harmful bacteria entering via any given opening created by accident--this means we have higher chances than them against getting sick ourselves too!

When to Consult a Veterinarian?

  • If the problem is not improving or is getting worse.
  • If your cat is exhibiting unusual behavior.
  • If you are unsure about the cause of the problem or how to treat it.

Ear Infections

Ear infections are common in cats, and they can be dangerous. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your cat's ears, it's time to see a veterinarian:

  • Head shaking
  • Ear scratching
  • Head tilting
  • Redness, swelling, and pain in the ears

If left untreated, ear infections can lead to deafness; injury to the eyes; chemical exposure; infection; inflammation; disease (such as FIV); or even death.

Eye Injuries and Discharges

If your cat has an eye injury, you should consult a veterinarian immediately. The same goes for if your cat is squinting or rubbing his eyes excessively, as this could be a sign of conjunctivitis (pus-filled eyes).

The most common causes of eye problems in cats are trauma and foreign bodies such as dust or dirt that have gotten into their eyes. Other causes can include:

  • Ulcers on the cornea (the transparent tissue at the front of each eye)
  • Conjunctivitis--inflammation of the conjunctiva (the membrane lining both eyelids). This condition occurs when bacteria enter through an injury in either surface layer of this membrane; it can also result from allergies or exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke or air pollution

Gastrointestinal Problems in Cats

Gastrointestinal problems are common in cats and can be caused by a wide variety of factors. Some of the most common gastrointestinal issues include vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. If you notice your cat has been vomiting or having diarrhea for more than 24 hours, it's important that you take him to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

If your cat is vomiting or having diarrhea:

  • Keep him hydrated by offering plenty of clean drinking water at all times; this will also help if he becomes dehydrated due to excessive urination (which often accompanies these types of problems). If necessary, use an eyedropper or syringe to administer small amounts at first until he gets used to drinking from his bowl again--but don't force him! You may also want to consider adding some Pedialyte powder into his water bowl so he gets extra electrolytes during this time period when dehydration could become an issue easily without proper care being taken into account beforehand

Flea and Tick Control

Fleas and ticks are a common problem in cats, especially those who live outside and go on walks. Fleas can cause anemia, and skin irritation, and transmit tapeworms. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease to your cat. It is important to remove ticks from the cat as soon as possible because they can cause infection if left on for too long.

To prevent fleas and ticks from infesting your home or yard:

  • Treat outdoor areas with insecticides such as bifenthrin (Talstar P) or permethrin (Spectracide Triazicide Lawn & Garden Insect Killer For Lawns And Gardens). These products should be applied once every three months during warm weather seasons when insects are active outdoors.
  • Treat indoor areas with aerosol sprays containing pyrethrins or methoprene (e.g., Raid) sprayed directly onto carpets or rugs where pets sleep; avoid getting sprays into their eyes.
  • Vacuum regularly using vacuum cleaners equipped with HEPA filters; wash pet bedding often at high temperatures; use flea collars/pills/ointments if needed.
  • Discourage cats from laying down near grassy areas where dogs may urinate (since dog urine contains chemicals that attract fleas).

Poisoning, Overdoses, and Toxicity in Cats

Poisoning and toxicity are common issues in cats. If your cat has ingested something toxic, take him to the veterinarian right away. If you're not sure whether or not your cat has been poisoned, it's best to err on the side of caution and bring him in for evaluation.

If you suspect that your cat has ingested something poisonous or toxic (like pesticides), here are some things you can do:

  • Remove any remaining food from his mouth and wash his face with water if necessary;
  • Keep an eye on him for signs of illness--vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy;
  • Contact your vet immediately if he shows any signs of poisoning;


  • To prevent poisoning, keep all medications and household chemicals out of reach.
  • If you suspect your cat has been poisoned, call the vet immediately. Don't wait until the next day; cats can die within hours of ingesting toxins!
  • If you know what kind of toxin was ingested (e.g., rat poison), bring along that packaging so that it can be identified quickly by the veterinarian and treated accordingly.
  • If possible, take a sample with you to show the doctor when he or she arrives at your home--this will help him/her determine what kind of antidote is needed for treatment as soon as possible after ingestion occurred.


The most important thing to remember is that cats are very resilient. They can usually recover from most illnesses and injuries with the right treatment and care. However, if your cat becomes seriously ill or injured, it's best to consult your veterinarian immediately.

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