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Road traffic accidents

| July 6, 2013
Not surprisingly young cats tend to be more at risk, and there is a strong correlation between the risk of injury and high traffic density and that a large proportion of incidents happen outside the cat’s family home.

Not surprisingly young cats tend to be more at risk, and there is a strong correlation between the risk of injury and high traffic density and that a large proportion of incidents happen outside the cat’s family home.

In Case Of Emergency

What to do to increase the chances of your cat surviving a road traffic accident

It is extremely common for cats to be knocked down by cars and lose one, or all of their nine lives. Not surprisingly young cats tend to be more at risk, and there is a strong correlation between the risk of injury and high traffic density and that a large proportion of incidents happen outside the cat’s family home. Road accidents happen more often at night so the best thing to protect your cat is to keep her at home at night.  The injuries can vary from bruising to fatalities, though it is amazing how many cats manage to struggle home despite appalling injuries. Getting veterinary help as quickly as possible is the key to ensuring an animal road accident victim has the best chance of survival.

Most common injuries after a car accident

  • Shock:  The cat will appear confused and weak, its gum will go pale and its paws will feel cold. If the cat is semi-conscious there is a risk it could vomit and inhale the food into its lungs. Open the mouth, pull the tongue forward and keep the body higher than its head so that any food can spill out. On no account administer fluids to the animal.
  • Broken legs:  The limb may appear misshapen with abnormal movement. This cat may be in excruciating pain and may scratch and bite hysterically when touched. If you can’t get near him throw a thick blanket over the whole body and lift him gently into the car. Don’t waste time trying to splint the leg as you may only make the fracture worse and may distress the cat more.
  • Internal injuries:  The worst ones are when the car actually runs over the cat and causes lung haemorrhage or a ruptured spleen or bladder. These kinds of injuries are the most serious as they may not be obvious immediately. Your vet may need to take an X-ray to check for any problems.

Assess the situation
The actions you take in the first few minutes can make all the difference. Firstly remain calm, not only for your own sake but for the sake of your wounded companion. Approach your cat quietly and avoid sudden movements. Assess the situation before acting as injured animals are frightened and in pain and may try to bite, scratch and claw anyone who touches them.
Treatment can usually be provided more quickly if the cat is taken to the surgery, rather than calling the vet to your home. All cats that have been hit by a car should have a vet check as internal injuries can are not always self evident.
Moving the injured cat
Your first priority at the accident scene is to move the animal out of harm’s way.
Be gentle in your actions and speak in a calm soothing voice when addressing the animal or anyone in the vicinity Move the animal to the side of the road without further injury by gently sliding her onto a coat, towel or piece of cardboard and pull her off the road.         If you have not got anything to hand and you have to carry the animal, be as gentle as possible. The best way of lifting an injured cat is to put one hand under the chin on the front of the chest and the other behind the hind legs. The cat may have fractures including damage to the spine so any movement can make things worse.

When transported to the vet, place the cat in a secure container like a cat basket. If your cat is unconscious keep it warm in a blanket with the head tilted downwards in case it vomits. Notify the veterinarian that you are on your way.

First Aid     
If you need to travel quite a distance to your veterinarian, it is best to notify him about the situation so that he can be prepared on your arrival.  There are also a few actions you can take to ensure that the cat has the best chance of survival.

If she is conscious she will probably be in shock. Stop any bleeding that may be noticeable. Place clean cloths over the wounds where there a lot of blood. Pressure applied to the cloths will slow the bleeding.
If there is bone protruding from the wound, pack a cloth around the protruding bone and apply light pressure to the area to hold the cloth in place. If the animal is on their feet but seems to have a broken limb the limb will be misshapen or the animal will refuse to put weight on it and leave it hanging limp.  If the cat is unconscious perform Artificial respiration (AR).

Artificial respiration (AR)
Before you start artificial respiration, check if the cat has a heartbeat. To do this place two fingers on the central lower chest, just below the ribcage and press lightly. If the cat is not breathing you will need to perform artificial respiration.

Follow the steps below:

  1. If the cat wears a collar – remove it.
  2. Check for any blockage in the throat and wipe away any blood or saliva.
  3. Turn the cat on her side.
  4. If you have a syringe, take the plunger out and put the wide part of the syringe over the cat’s nose.
  5. With one hand lift the chin up so the mouth is closed.
  6. Blow into the syringe till you see the chest moving up. If you don’t have a syringe, take a deep breath, and blow directly into cat’s nostrils (you will need to blow quite hard).
  7. Repeat the process every five seconds for a minute then stop and check if the cat can breathe by herself. If not continue as before.
  8. Get veterinary help ASAP.

Finally
Remember shock and internal injuries can be fatal. With immediate action and by working calmly and methodically you can ensure the road accident victim becomes a road accident survivor.

Copyright & Credit:
Author:
 Yolanda Wessels
Photo copyright and courtesy:
Sue Tupling

 

Category: Feline Articles, Feline Health and Care, Feline Resources

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