Finding your newly adopted kitten in distress is liable to put you into panic mode. But take a deep breath, get on your knees and determine if your furry pal needs cardiopulmonary resuscitation -- more commonly known as CPR. Your quick and immediate actions can save your kitten's life.
Lay Johnny on his side and straighten out his neck. Open his mouth and look for an obstruction. Pulling out his tongue can help you get a better visual on anything that might be stuck in his throat. However, don't attempt to reach into your little buddy's mouth if he is coherent. He might bite you.
Reach in your cat's mouth with your pinkie finger -- if he is unconscious -- and scoop out any debris that is blocking his airway. If he's choking on fluid, use a cotton ball to soak up the liquid building up in the back of his throat. If the intrusion doesn't come out, you'll need to do the Heimlich maneuver.
Lift Johnny up and hold him upside down if there is still something blocking his breathing. Place his back against your chest, hold him tightly and give five sharp thrusts at the top of his belly and press downward, toward his head.
Check his mouth to see if the debris is gone or has shifted to a place that allows you to remove it. Once the fragment is out of his airway, give him two quick breaths. You cannot proceed any further until his airway is clear.
Put both hands around the kitten's muzzle and keep his little mouth shut. Take a deep breath, cover Johnny's nose with your mouth and quickly exhale four or five short breaths into his snout. You should see his chest expand. Repeat this step every five seconds and continue to see if he's breathing on his own. Limit your breaths to 20 to 30 per minute, says the Cat Practice, a Michigan-based animal hospital. His tiny lungs can't handle much more than that.
Listen for a heartbeat by resting your ear on his chest, or check his pulse on the upper inside part of his thigh. If you cannot locate a pulse, you'll need to do chest compressions.
Lay Johnny on his right side, facing you. Slide your left hand under his chest so your palm rests under his elbow. Place your right hand directly on top of your left hand.
Begin compressions by pressing your palms together. His fragile chest should go in about 1 inch, reports Kentucky-based Jefferson Animal Hospitals. Curl your fingers behind his body to keep him from sliding backward.
Continue administering CPR until Johnny is breathing on his own and has a heartbeat. If you're doing CPR alone, you should be doing about five compressions, followed by a set of four or five breaths, then continuing the sequence. However, if you have someone helping you, the process should be three compressions, followed by a set of four or five breaths, continuing on as needed.
- Have a friend or loved one call your veterinarian while you are doing CPR. A vet can offer additional guidance and might be able to head over for assistance.
- Even if Johnny seems to be happy and coherent after CPR, take him to the veterinarian right away. He may have a broken rib or other internal problem that requires immediate attention.
- Avoid doing CPR for more than 20 minutes from start to finish. You may be doing more harm than good.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.