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Handling and Transporting Sick or Injured Cats

How to safely handle an injured cat.

If your cat is ill or becomes injured, you will need to evaluate her, get her to the veterinarian, and you may need to perform first aid.

All of these actions require that you be aware of the fact that sick and injured cats may not react to you the way they normally would. They may bite or scratch from pain or fear.

General Good Practices for Handling Sick or Hurt Cats

Always approach a sick or injured cat, even your own pet, slowly and cautiously. Use a soft, soothing voice, and watch for any signs that she might bite you, such as crouching down, putting her ears back, and growling.

  • An Elizabethan collar is one way that you can minimize your cat's ability to bite you so you can look at her more carefully, perform first aid, and attempt to move her. The E-collar makes it harder for her to bite you, not impossible.
  • Wrapping your cat in a towel or blanket can further help to restrain and calm her as well as decrease her ability to scratch you.
  • To restrain a cat for examination, use one hand to gently gather her scruff and use the other hand to hold her back feet, then place her on her side so a second person can look at her.
  • Whenever possible, transport your sick or injured cat in her cat carrier or a box that can be closed but isn't airtight. If your cat tends to be extremely fearful of the carrier or the car, though, this might not be a good option when she is injured.
  • The next safest way to transport your cat is by wrapping her in a towel, holding the scruff of her neck with one hand, and carrying her.
  • If it isn't possible to carry your cat or put her in a box, you may wish to use a flat board or child's sled to gently move your cat, but you will need to be sure you have a good hold of her, so she doesn't jump off and run away.
  • You may also place your cat on a large towel and, with another person, gently lift the towel, keeping your kitty as flat as possible. Again, having a hand on her is important, so she doesn't jump off.

You can learn how to assess your cat's general condition here: "Baseline Vitals in Cats and How to Measure Them."

Learn about common emergency conditions in cats and the proper first aid for them here: "First Aid for Cats: An Overview."

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