Feral Cat Coalition Clinic Procedures
Cat Respiration 101
These are basics all volunteers should know so we'll all breathe easier!)
All cats react differently to anesthesia, and irregular breathing is not unusual, but watch them carefully! If a cat will be in one spot for a while, waiting for surgery or treatments, be sure to check for vitals and monitor the following:
- OPEN AIRWAY - Be sure the tongue is pulled out and airway is clear.
- RESPIRATION - If shallow, rub cat briskly or turn cat over to stimulate breathing. Respiration rate should be 5 to 10 per minute some cats may hold their breath, so don't panic!
- HEARTBEAT - Feel with your thumb and two fingers on either side of the chest beat should be consistent. You can also apply light pressure on the inside rear leg (femural artery) to feel for a pulse.
- EYE RESPONSE - Lightly touch the corner of the eye closest to the nose; if you see a blink or any eye movement, the cat is OK.
- SUBTLE SEIZURES - Don't panic, this usually just means the cat is about to throw up (usually because food was given too close to surgery). Quickly hold/place them with their head tilted downward & let them vomit; clear their airway, pull out their tongue, then watch them carefully for regular breathing.
- GUM COLOR - The anesthetic we use makes the gums a very pale, pinkish-gray. If they're bluish, it means the cat is not getting enough oxygen. MAKE SURE TONGUE IS PULLED OUT & QUICKLY APPLY ACCUPRESSURE WITH YOUR FINGERNAIL OR A NEEDLE AT BASE OF NOSE (see drawing) AND FEEL CHEST FOR HEARTBEAT! If there is no improvement, notify your Team Leader or the Supervisor immediately!!! (Team Leaders: remember cat "crash" area is at the Neuter Station.)
- Please ask your Team Leader or the Supervisor if you have any questions so you'll know what to do if a feline is in need!
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[Page updated November 2009]