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Overview: Emergency Care
Emergency care restores normal, full, relaxed breathing, and helps the cat to return safely home.

The American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care website has a listing of vets specially trained for crisis situations.
 
Other pages in this section describe
ongoing care, treatment hints, and medications.
 
Terms and medications are described in the
glossary.
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Treatment: Emergency Care

When a veterinarian is confronted by a cat which is desperately sick, coughing, wheezing, or gasping for air, her first effort is to help the cat get full, productive breaths - oxygen in, and poisonous waste gases out. To accomplish this, the vet will:

  1. Reduce inflammation with a corticosteroid, usually injected. This will immediately ease the swollen, inflamed, twitchy tissues deep in the lungs. It will reduce swelling and the production of mucus. More lung tissue will then be available to the open air for gas exchange.
  2. Open the airways wider with a bronchodilator. This allows more air to get deeper into the lungs, which makes breathing easier and helps untrap pockets of air. It also provides more lung surface to get oxygen in and waste gases (carbon dioxide) out.
  3. Relieve oxygen deprivation with oxygen gas. Since ordinary air is only 20% oxygen, using high-concentration oxygen gas allows the available lung surface to get more oxygen molecules into the cat's bloodstream.

A cat admitted in acute respiratory distress will often require hospitalization. Minimal handing and quiet is needed and the cat will need to be stabilized first before performing chest x-rays (radiographs). If there is no oxygen cage, a quiet cool area with good ventilation helps. Epinephrine (adrenaline) may be given if airway obstruction is life-threatening or there has been poor response to steroids and bronchodilators. If there is evidence of respiratory infection, then antibiotics may be given. Long-acting injected corticosteroids also carry greater risk of side effect, which should be taken into consideration. For cats who are unresponsive to the maximum doses of steroids and bronchodilators, cyproheptadine (an antihistamine) has assisted some cats.

To find an emergency veterinary specially trained to treat crisis situations, you may wish to visit the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC) website which has a listing of vets. They can also be called upon for consultation services if your usual veterinarian needs some assistance. Doing this now and having the numbers close at hand in your animal health files will help you be prepared should you need it.

Ask your vet or veterinary assistant to write down what medications where given. During a stressful emergency time, these notes will help you to understand what was done or used and why when you return home.


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2001-2008 Kathryn Hopper & James Perkins. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to print portions of this website for personal and veterinary reference only. Disclaimer: All material on Fritzthebrave.com is provided for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Consult your cat's veterinarian regarding all aspects of your cat's health. Fritzthebrave.com provides links to other organizations as a community service and is not responsible for the information, services, or products they provide.

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