Cats tend to choke on items that they should not be chewing on, like plant matter, string, and anything they get their curious mouths on. What are the warning signs your cat is choking, and what can you do to help them when they are choking?
A choking cat shows signs of choking in much the same way they that they act when they are retching or gagging up a hairball. However, they often also paw at their face frantically and act panicked. If you notice your cat retching with nothing coming out or frantically pawing their face, they may be choking. Check your cat’s teeth and gums, trying to locate an object they may be choking on, and often a choking cat will have blue or white gums due to a lack of oxygen.
The best way to help a choking cat is to hold the cat to your chest and wrap them in your arms, creating a fist with one hand just under their ribcage and under their sternum, and cup the other hand over the first fist. Or, you can lock your hands together with the thumbs up under the ribcage. Gently thrust your hands inward and up to try to dislodge what they may be choking on, as many times as necessary. This version of the Heimlich looks much like you are holding your cat in front of you and hugging them firmly.
If you cannot get the object out this way, you can try to pry open the cat’s mouth and see if the object is visible. Cats often swallow string and small items that are visible when you open their mouths, or perhaps wrapped around their teeth. Have someone hold open the mouth while you take a blunt object, like the end of a pencil where the eraser is, to get behind the object and try to dislodge it.
Get your cat to the vet as quickly as possible if you cannot dislodge the object they’ve swallowed. Cover the cat in a blanket to keep them calm, and cup their nose with your hand, and blow air into their nose to give them oxygen on the way to the vet. A scary situation, but if you know what to do, you can very well save your cat’s life!
my sister, who was a vet assistant for 2 years