What to Do if Your Cat is Choking | Hill’s Pet

When it comes to pet emergencies, knowing how to handle them can make all the difference. From performing the cat Heimlich maneuver to preventing choking accidents, understanding the right steps to take during a crisis can help save your cat’s life.

The Importance of E-E-A-T in Pet Emergencies

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

What Can I Do?

Sometimes, a cat choking incident may be caused by a hairball that the cat can’t expel. However, most accidents occur due to an object, such as food, a hair tie, or a plastic toy, lodged in the cat’s throat. If you notice your cat choking, it’s important to stay calm and assess whether her airway is truly blocked. If it’s just a hairball, she will likely expel it within a few seconds. But if there is an obstruction, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Mouth sweep: Gently open your cat’s jaws and sweep her mouth with your index finger to check for any obstructions. Be cautious not to push anything farther down her throat. Look inside her mouth and gently pull her tongue forward to examine the back of her throat. If you cannot see anything or are unable to safely remove the obstruction, proceed to the next step.

  2. Cat Heimlich maneuver: Hold your cat against your chest with her back facing you and her feet hanging. Use your hands to gently but firmly push on her belly in quick, upward thrusts, about five times. If the first set of thrusts doesn’t dislodge the object, hold your cat by her back hips with her head facing down and sweep her mouth again. Tap your hand firmly against her back and check her mouth once more. After successfully removing the obstruction, immediately bring your cat to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic.

Can I Prevent My Cat From Choking?

Preventing choking hazards is essential in ensuring your cat’s safety. Take a walk through your home and consider what objects could potentially be easily swallowed by a curious cat. Common choking hazards include:

  • Craft supplies like pom-poms and pipe cleaners
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper clips and staples
  • Plastic bags and cellophane
  • Bottle caps and wine corks
  • Straws
  • Aluminum foil

To avoid any mishaps, store these items in a pet-proof location. Never allow your cat to play with items such as wadded-up aluminum foil or plastic bags, as it only takes a split second for them to become lodged in her throat.

Calico kitten playing with a toy.

Cat Toy Safety

Some cat toys may also pose a danger. Avoid toys with dangling decorations like feathers, bells, or googly eyes. Instead, opt for larger toys such as balls, toy mice, or crumpled pieces of paper that are too big for your cat to swallow. Supervised playtime with fishing pole-style toys is enjoyable for both you and your cat, but remember to store them out of reach when your cat is unsupervised.

Contrary to the image of a cute kitten playing with a ball of yarn, it is not safe for cats to play with string or ribbons, as they can pose choking hazards. If you notice a string hanging out of your cat’s mouth or rectum, do not attempt to pull it out. Doing so can cause damage to her throat or intestines. Instead, consider it an emergency situation and contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your cat has swallowed string.

Other Causes of Choking

In rare cases, your cat may be hacking and gasping due to an underlying health issue. For example, when a cat throws up a hairball, she coughs until the hair is expelled. While this may not be a choking emergency, it can be uncomfortable for your furry friend. It is essential to address this issue, as hairballs that do not come up can lead to serious medical problems if they become trapped and block the digestive tract. If your cat frequently coughs up hairballs, consider speaking with your veterinarian about possible solutions, such as a hairball control food or other preventive measures. Hairballs can also indicate underlying gastrointestinal disease.

Frequent gagging may also be a sign of gastrointestinal problems or respiratory ailments like asthma. To determine the cause of your cat’s coughing and seek appropriate help, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

By following these guidelines and providing up-to-date, accurate, and reliable information, you can create top-notch English content that meets the standards of E-E-A-T and YMYL. Remember, your expertise and experience are invaluable in delivering content that readers can trust.

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