What to Do if Your Cat is Choking: Helpful Tips from Katten TrimSalon

Video what to do if a cat is choking

When it comes to pet emergencies, it’s crucial to know how to act swiftly and effectively. If you ever find yourself in a situation where your cat is choking, it’s important to remain calm and take immediate action. In this article, we will explore some essential steps you can take to help your furry friend in a crisis.

Close-up of cat getting ready to cough up hairball.

What Can I Do?

Sometimes, a cat choking incident may be caused by a hairball that your cat can’t expel. However, accidents are more commonly the result of an object, such as food, a hair tie, or a plastic toy, becoming lodged in their throat. If you notice your cat choking, follow these two steps:

Mouth Sweep

First, gently open your cat’s jaws and sweep her mouth with your index finger to see if you can remove the obstruction. Be sure to look inside her mouth while checking for any objects, taking care not to push anything farther down her throat. If you don’t see anything in her mouth or cannot conduct a safe sweep, move on to the next step.

Cat Heimlich Maneuver

When performing the cat Heimlich maneuver, hold your kitty with her back against your chest and her feet hanging. Use your hands to gently but firmly push on her belly in a succession of quick, upward thrusts, about five times. If the first set of blows doesn’t dislodge the object, hold your cat up by her back hips with her head down and gently sweep her mouth again. Tap your hand firmly against her back and check her mouth once more. After removing the obstruction, it is crucial to bring your cat to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic immediately.

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Can I Prevent My Cat From Choking?

The best way to keep your cat safe from choking hazards is to eliminate them altogether. Take a walk through your home and think like a cat. Identify small, shiny objects that could be easily swallowed. Common choking hazards include craft supplies like pom-poms and pipe cleaners, rubber bands, paper clips, staples, plastic bags, bottle caps, wine corks, straws, and aluminum foil. Store these items in pet-proof locations to prevent curious cats from accessing them. Never allow your kitty to play with potential choking hazards like wadded-up aluminum foil or plastic bags, as it only takes a second for these objects to become lodged in their throat.

Calico kitten playing with toy.

Cat Toy Safety

While cats love to play, it’s important to ensure the toys they interact with are safe. Avoid toys with dangling decorations like feathers, bells, and googly eyes. Opt for larger toys such as balls, toy mice, or crumpled pieces of paper that are larger than your cat’s mouth. Supervised playtime with fishing pole-style toys can be enjoyable, but always keep them out of your cat’s reach when you’re not around.

It’s crucial to remember that certain items, such as string or ribbons, pose serious choking hazards to cats. Despite the common image of a cute kitten playing with a ball of yarn, it’s not safe for your cat to play with any kind of string or ribbons. If you notice a string hanging from your cat’s mouth or rectum, do not attempt to pull it out yourself. Doing so could potentially harm your cat’s throat or intestines. Instead, treat it as an emergency situation and contact your veterinarian immediately.

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What Else Causes Choking?

In rare cases, your cat’s hacking and gasping may be a result of an underlying health issue. For instance, when your kitty throws up a hairball, she coughs until the pesky wad of hair comes up. This isn’t a choking emergency, but it can be uncomfortable for your furry friend. If hairballs become persistent and won’t come up, they can lead to serious medical problems by blocking the digestive track. It’s advisable to consult your vet if your cat hacks up a hairball more than once a week, as they can recommend a hairball control food or other suitable regimen to prevent the formation of hairballs. Furthermore, hairballs can also be a sign of underlying gastrointestinal disease.

Occasionally, frequent gagging could indicate a gastrointestinal problem or a respiratory ailment like asthma. To determine the cause of the coughing and seek appropriate help for your cat, it is essential to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Remember, knowing how to handle emergencies is vital. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your cat’s safety and well-being. For more information on cat care and grooming, visit Katten TrimSalon.