First Aid for Pets

bandaged face cat in a bag




Most cats resent being restrained and some are violently opposed to it. For this reason it is a good idea to start out gently with little restraint and increase the amount of force used as necessary. Once you know your cat and how it responds you will know from the outset how much control you will need to get the job done.

Controlling a cat and treating it usually requires two people. If your cat is a handful the holder will have the more difficult task and should be the person who feels the more confident. If you can't control your cat then you may wish to visit your veterinarian. Remember veterinarians tend to have trained nurses to help them and if all else fails a pharmacy full of wonderful drugs to use.

Any of the techniques discussed on page 4, Restraining a cat, can be used to hold a cat for treatment. Some cats may be more tractable if held in an assistant's arms rather than on a table or bench top.

  • Place a towel on a bench top where you intend to work. Cats often appear to be happier if they aren't directly on a very slippery surface. The towel will also catch any fluid, such as blood or antiseptic, and soak it up, keeping the area dry and more pleasant to work on.

  • Be gentle but firm. Bullying your cat into behaving rarely works as it does in dogs.

  • Place your cat on a table or bench.


  • Gently hold your cat placing one hand around the cat's neck and the other over its hind quarters. This controls the head and back feet. If the cat is being difficult the hand on the neck can be moved to hold the cat's scruff, giving the assistant more control of the teeth. It may be necessary to push the head down onto the table.


  • Sometimes it is necessary to work on a paw or the belly of a cat. Lay your cat on its side with its back against your body. One hand should hold the bottom front leg with the wrist across the neck. The other hand should hold the bottom, or both, hind legs, with the wrist across the belly if the cat is trying to get up. The disadvantage with this technique is that the cat can still bite the hand on the front leg.


  • A modification of the above technique is to scruff or hold the cat's neck instead. Since the teeth are more dangerous than the claws this hold is more suitable in a feisty cat. Sometimes it is necessary to have a second holder. One person holds the cat's front end while the second person holds the back feet.

Remember a cat has five weapons, its mouth and four paws. Cats are also just as likely to injure their owner as a stranger. Its teeth are the biggest risk. The fine teeth can penetrate joints or bone. An angry cat may also use its claws to drag a hand in reach of its teeth as well as creating nasty scratches.


Send mail to Administrator with comments or questions about this site                Fiona Anderson 2001