How To Perform CPR On A Cat

By March 11, 2020 Uncategorized

How To Perform CPR On A Cat | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Your cat is like a child to you.

You give them the best food and schedule annual vet visits.

You’ve carefully studied which human foods are good (and bad) to share with your cat.

But what happens when your cat has a medical emergency and you don’t have time to take them to your local veterinarian?

Do you have a plan for that?

Today we will look at cardiology for cats and what you can do if your cat stops breathing, or if their heart stops.

Keep reading, to be prepared for an emergency.

Get Your Cat To The Emergency Vet If You Can

So your cat has started acting strangely.

Perhaps they aren’t eating, or are vomiting.

Maybe they’ve stopped using the litter box or are making strange breathing sounds.

These are all warning signs something is wrong with your cat, and definitely reasons to get your cat to the vet as soon as possible – hopefully before things get worse.

How To Determine If You Should Do CPR

So you’ve come home from work to find your cat is not at the door to greet you like they normally do.

You don’t worry too much at first – cats can be fickle creatures.

You notice your cat sleeping soundly on the couch, and go over to give them a few pets, but something doesn’t seem quite right – normally this would cause your cat to wake up, or at least stretch.

This time there is no response.

At this point, you should try to wake your cat – shake them gently, try talking and saying their name.

Check for breathing by placing your hand in front of your cat’s nose and mouth to feel for air, and look and feel for the movement of their chest.

Once you have determined there is no breathing or heartbeat you can start CPR.

CPR for your cat: what you need to know | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Performing CPR On A Cat

If you have learned how to do CPR on a human, you will find the steps for performing it on a cat are very similar.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of what to do.

1. Check for breathing and a heartbeat, as we described above.

2. Once you have determined your cat is not breathing, open their mouth and check for anything which might be obstructing the airway. If you see any obstructions carefully use your finger to scoop it out – being careful to not push any foreign objects deeper into your cat’s throat.

3. Gently pull your cat’s tongue towards the front of their mouth, so it can’t fall back and obstruct the airway, and hold their mouth shut.

4. Ensure your cat’s neck is straight so their airway is clear, and breathe short “puffs” of air into their nose, being careful not to over-inflate their lungs. Generally, a good measure for a “puff” of air is the amount of air you can hold in your cheeks – be careful not to over-inflate your cat’s lungs, by giving too much air at once. Remember, their lungs are a lot smaller than yours. You should see your cat’s chest rise slightly.

5. Repeat these breaths four or five times, every three to five seconds, and then check for a heartbeat. If there is a heartbeat but no breathing, continue rescue breaths, at a rate of about ten per minute.

6. If your cat does not have a heartbeat, begin CPR (steps 7-10).

7. Place your cat on a flat surface, on their side.

8. Using your thumbs over your cat’s heart, located just behind the front legs, compress the chest about one-third of its normal thickness or about one inch.

9. Continue to do compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute, with two rescue breaths every 30 compressions.

10. If you have another person to help, you can alternate between chest compressions and rescue breathes so you don’t become tired.

How Your Vet Performs CPR

If you are able to get your cat to the vet, the way they perform CPR will look a little different, as they have many more medical tools at their disposal.

They will use an endotracheal tube to provide oxygen.

This is a tube which goes from the mouth, down the trachea and to the lungs.

They will also start an IV in order to give fluids and medication, such as epinephrine to stimulate the heart rate.


If your cat goes through an experience where they require CPR, it is likely they will need to be kept under observation until a diagnosis can be made.

Depending on the cause, your vet will provide aftercare instructions – it is very important to follow your vets’ instructions carefully and be prepared to contact them if anything doesn’t go as expected.

Book an Appointment at Bickford Park Animal Hospital

Here at Bickford Park Animal Hospital, we’re here for you and your cat – whether it’s an emergency or not.

We would love to get to know you and your feline friend under better circumstances, so if you do need to come in during an emergency you already have the comfort and familiarity with our staff to trust us to provide the best care possible.

Contact us today to book an appointment.

In yours and your pet’s health,

Dr. Helen Foster, DVM
Bickford Park Animal Hospital
807 Bloor St W,
Toronto, ON M6G 1L8

Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.