Monthly Archives: October 2012

Kitty Code

So, we’ve all been through codes at work. Or at least hopefully if you have worked worked in intensive care, you haven’t run from too many. (Famous quotes from disorderlycna – “Oh look, someone should cover the front desk – you all look busy – I’ll go!”)

Well we don’t expect people to code at home. In particular, we don’t expect the cat to code at home.

Trust me, it can happen. Despite being relatively smart animals, cats can be in over their head, if they swallow something that blocks the airway.

You’ll notice that this is occurred, because your cat races crazily around the room, in a panicked fashion. The cat will try to rub itself long the floor in an effort to clear their airway. The behavior has a seizure-like quality.

My cat did this yesterday. Out of the blue, she ran madly around the house and frantically rubbed her face along the floor, then stood, legs splayed out to the side. It reminded me, in retrospect, of tripod breathing demonstrated by a human. Anyway, I decided to panic first, then focus on the ABC’s.

Focusing on the ABCs is a way of prioritizing the rescuer’s response to an emergency medical situation. It is designed to help the rescuer remember to check what’s important. Obviously, breathing is pretty darned important, but we forget that the airway may be blocked. So A first for airway, then B second for breathing, and lastly C, for circulation. That is the focus for a rescuer in an emergency situation.

I noticed that C for circulation must be okay, because her I could feel her heart pounding through her ribs as I held her.
Then, I attempted the Heimlich maneuver in order to dislodge whatever object was blocking her airway. No luck, cat still in distress. Damn. Now what to do?

By this time, the husband suggests putting the cat up on something, because bending over for too long dealing with her on the floor is just plain uncomfortable. Ergonomics are important!

We put the cat on the breadboard in the kitchen (because of course my study materials completely cover the table). He suggests we look at the airway – I concur. However, I’m not fond of the idea of being bitten, so I suggest we block her mouth open with something. He shrugs and looks at me. I get a wooden spoon out of drawer underneath the breadboard and put it lengthways in her mouth, and then hold the cat from behind, opening her mouth, while my husband takes look at the airway. He’s a brave guy.

He sees and points out to me some gristly gooey substance that appears to be stuck in her mouth and is extending down the airway.

He says we should remove it, and I agree. Into the living room he blitzes, and returns with needle nose pliers. Why do we have tools in the living room? I don’t know, but they sure look handy at this moment.

Using the pliers, he grasps the icky substance that is firmly adhered to one of the cat’s back teeth, aaaaannnnd -nothing! He then pulled again and the icky thing comes out and plops onto the breadboard. El gato stops panicking, and her respirations return to normal, although she looks little stressed out.

Things returned to normal, and the cat starts to purr. “Thank goodness that’s over!”, I said. DH returned to watching football, and, after my heart rate returned to normal, I returned to studying.

It’s nice to have a happy ending emergent situation. Sadly, this is not always possible. However, we’re home, and the cat wasn’t grifting around the neighborhood begging for tunafish.

The lab (I’m kidding, we don’t have a dog) determined the substance stuck on her tooth was sinew from some beef jerky that she had found (where, I have no idea). So, add jerky to the list of hazards to keep out of kitty’s reach.

So, let’s all remember the ABC’s!

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