Feline Automobile Accidents
The number-one cause of feline emergencies is automobile accidents. The term used by vets is “HBC” meaning “Hit By Car”. Some cats in automobile accidents just end up with minor wounds, bruises, or lacerations. Most cats, however, end up with broken bones and/or other internal injuries. Regardless of how a cat appears to look externally, examined thoroughly by a vet as soon as possible.
Cats involved in car accidents may or may no show external signs of injury. Their skin is resilient and may remain intact despite severe internal injuries.
FACT: At night, when they are on the prowl, cats can easily be blinded by oncoming headlights and end up being hit by a car.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
* In order to take your cat to the veterinarian, you need to pick him up and move him carefully. You can use a blanket, a sheet or even a towel to act as a little stretcher. Cover him. Gently wrap a blanket around him and carry him to your car holding each end of the blanket, or if you have a board, slide the cat onto that without changing his position or bending his spine. Then find a small, sturdy box, gently lay him in it, using no pillows that distort his body position. Your injured cat may bite you, so BE CAREFUL when handling him, or cover his head with a towel. It’s a good idea to call ahead and let your veterinarian know that you are on your way. If it’s an odd hour, calling ahead insures that the clinic is actually open.
* If your cat is not moving, you need to be sure that he is alive. Touch the cornea which is the center of his eye. If the cat is alive, he should blink.
* If your cat is unconscious, treat him just like you would treat a person with a possible spinal injury. Wrap him on a board so his legs, spine, and neck are straight. Next, be sure that his airway is clear so he is able to breathe. You can gently extend his head and neck, pull his tongue over to one side of his mouth, and use a cloth to clear any secretions from his mouth and nose.
* If the cat is also bleeding, the first aid treatment is the same as that used for a person. Apply steady, direct pressure with a clean towel, a piece of gauze, or even your hand to try to stop or at least limit the blood flow. Two pellets of Arnica Montana 20c can be placed on the tongue every 15 minutes for a total of three doses to relieve pain and decrease swelling while on your way to the vet.
* Legs that are dangling or obviously broken can be immobilized with splints made of newspaper, towels, or even a pillow.
WHAT YOUR VET CAN DO
Once at the hospital, the vet will examine the cat and initially assess vital statistics including rectal temperature, heart rate, respiration, and gum color. If the cat is critical, a catheter or tube will be inserted into a vein – this is called an intravenous fluid line. Medication to prevent shock, along with fluids to stabilize blood pressure, will be administered though this catheter. Once the cat is stabilized, x-rays to detect broken bones and other possible internal injuries will be taken. You will then be advised of the necessary treatment. You will also be given a prognosis, or told how your cat should do once out of the hospital, and whether or not any long-term complications should be expected.