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If you encounter a cat in need or injured in some way, your first reaction may be to run to help. That’s only natural because most people don’t want to see an animal in pain. But without taking the proper precautions, you could get injured. An injured animal and an injured person certainly won’t help the situation.
It is important to remember that even the sweetest cat in the world may bite or scratch if s/he is frightened or in pain. This article will provide guidelines on what to look for when approaching an injured pet.
Assess the Situation
Before going to help an animal, use common sense: Remember that your safety comes first. For instance, if the animal is in the middle of the road, watch for traffic before going to assist. If there is a house fire, do not enter the house until the fire department has eliminated the danger – very likely firefighters will rescue the pet. Or, if your pet has fallen, make sure no items are ready to fall on your pet or yourself.
If the pet is covered in a toxic substance, do not touch the animal unless you are wearing protective gloves or can cover him with plastic (or some other protective material). The same goes if you notice blood on the animal. Even though there are few diseases you can get from animal blood, there is no guarantee that human blood is not mixed in from someone else. That person’s blood may have spilled onto the animal, and with the threat of HIV, hepatitis or other illnesses, exposure to any blood is not recommended.
Determine if the Cat is Aggressive
As you approach the cat, pay attention to his body language and any sounds he is making. Use a soft, gentle, calming voice. Avoid direct eye contact with an injured pet since some will perceive this as a confrontation or threat.
Here are some body language signals to look out for:
- Ears flattened on head
- Hissing and spitting
- Arched back
- Hair along back standing on end
- Swatting with claws
Remember, keeping yourself safe and uninjured is just as important as helping the injured cat. You cannot be much help if you also need medical assistance.
If the animal you are trying to help is aggressive and there is a risk that you may get injured, do not try to administer treatment. Call a local animal shelter, humane society, veterinary clinic, animal control officer or police department.
Try to stay nearby to watch where the animal goes and to assist when help arrives. If necessary, direct traffic away from the injured animal until further help arrives.
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