Most of us keep a variety of medicines at home for those occasions when we are sick or injured, but did you know there are some important medicines to keep on hand if your cat is not well? Here are some of the commonly used items you should have on hand in your cat’s medicine chest. Be sure to check with your veterinarian before giving any medicines to your cat.
Hydrogen peroxide should be in every cat’s medicine cabinet. Although most commonly thought of as a way to clean a wound, another important use is to induce vomiting when your cat has ingested toxins, foreign objects, drugs or spoiled food. However, check with your veterinarian first because there are times when it is best not to induce vomiting. Cats won’t drink peroxide willingly so buy an oral dose syringe or keep a turkey baster on hand to help administer the liquid. Also check the expiration date; expired peroxide is not as effective.
Benadryl® (diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine that is commonly used for itching and allergic reactions. Cats that have had a bee sting, insect bite or vaccination reaction often need a dose of Benadryl® to calm itchiness, facial swelling or hives. The dose is based on your cat’s weight, so check with your veterinarian; he or she can tell you how much Benadryl® you can give and how often.
Topical antibacterial ointment is great for superficial wounds, such as cuts and scratches. It works best when the wound is located in an area the cat can’t reach since most cats will lick off any salve you apply. It is not a good treatment for deep wounds, especially if they are dirty or bleeding, or the result of a bite. These need veterinary attention.
It can be a challenge to bandage a bleeding wound on your pet. You can often use an old sock and electrical tape as bandages when an emergency arises. It’s best to keep a pack of clean or sterile gauze and some medical tape handy. Most bleeding wounds require pressure and tape will help keep the gauze in place.
Oral Dose Syringe/Pill Gun/Pill Splitter
Your veterinarian can supply you with a handy little item called a pill gun. It is a long plastic tube with a plunger used to deliver pills to our less cooperative friends. Some cats just aren’t fooled by that little piece of tuna or cheese with the pill in the middle. The pill gun keeps you from having to stick your hand/fingers into your cat’s mouth when medicating him. An oral dose syringe will help you give liquid medications accurately. A pill splitter will help you cut large tablets into equal portions if your pet requires a smaller dose.
Having these medications on hand is only half the job. Calling your pet’s doctor for proper instructions and potential side effects is the other. Never give your pet any medicine prescribed for people unless instructed by your veterinarian.
NEVER give your cat aspirin, tylenol, Pepto-Bismol®, Kaopectate®, or ibuprofen without the approval or recommendation of your veterinarian. These drugs can all be toxic and even life-threatening if given to cats.