Do's and Don'ts of Handling Traumatized Cats

July 8, 2018

Less is more in many of these cases.

"As far as handling cats that have had trauma, I always just want to say don't touch that cat," says Alison Gottlieb, BS, CVT, VTS (ECC), ICU veterinary nurse and education coordinator for CARES (Center for Animal Referral and Emergency Services) in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, "I mean, that's really my instinct. Less is more in many of these cases.

Analgesia is of the utmost importance. Analgesia and oxygen is really what they need and IV fluids. But the less you can mess with them when they first come in and are fully traumatized the safer it is for everybody. By causing stress and distress, you can make any respiratory issues worse.

And then the other thing is never take an X-ray on a cat or dog that has had any kind of respiratory issues. If you take a dismic cat and take them to X-ray and put them on the table and turn off the light, many times these animals will arrest. So, the best piece of advice is to, like we always like to do, stick a needle in it. Try thoracocentesis if they have shallow breathing-shallow rapid breathing. If you believe that they do have something in their pleural space, tap it before you take an X-ray.

And the other thing I feel pretty strongly about with traumatized cats is pulse ox. There is no place for a pulse ox with a traumatized cat. They either are breathing normally or they're having trouble breathing and need to be oxygen supplemented. A pulse ox is a random, arbitrary number on an awake, hypotensive, cold patient, and it's really just going to stress out the animal more. Putting them in oxygen is much more beneficial to everybody."