What is Electric Cord Bite Injury?
The severity of the shock depends on the current, voltage and duration of electrocution. A mild shock may only cause discomfort to your cat, but a severe shock may cause cardiac arrest or instant death.
Electrocution or injury may occur when your cat bites or chews on an electric cord. Electricity passes through tissues, generating excessive heat which can damage nerve cells and tissue. Damage to blood vessels can lead to pulmonary edema, a condition in which fluid leaks into the lungs. Your cat may also receive burns on their lips, tongue and mouth, and these burns could cause death to the affected tissues.
Symptoms of Electric Cord Bite Injury in Cats
There is a good chance you will catch your cat in the act or find bite marks in your electric cords. It is important to keep an eye on your cat for the following signs of electrical injury:
- Electric shock
- Chronic cough
- Crackling sounds in lungs
- Lip, tongue or mouth burns
- Blue tinge to skin or gums
- Vomiting or defecating
- Abnormal or difficulty breathing
- Fast heart rate
- Seizures or convulsions
- Collapse and unconsciousness
- Cardiac arrest
- Sudden death
If you find your cat chewing on a cord or notice any signs of electrical injury, take them to the veterinarian immediately.
Causes of Electric Cord Bite Injury in Cats
The main cause of shock or injury is biting or chewing on an electric cord. It may be a kitten who is teething or an older cat with a habit of chewing on items. Electrical cord injury usually happens when your cat is still young, but you want to prevent and treat an electrical injury at any age. The following list contains other sources of electrical injury:
- Faulty wiring
- Damaged electric circuits
- Fallen transmission cables
- Lightning strikes during thunderstorms
Diagnosis of Electric Cord Bite Injury in Cats
The first thing to do in the presence of an electrical injury is shut off the main breaker and unplug the source. You may want to wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from getting electrocuted. It may be tempting to treat your cat at home, but the best option is to take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination to rule out other conditions. The exam includes discussing their medical history, possible causes of the injury and listening to their heart and lungs. Your veterinarian will also check for burns and trauma to the soft tissues.
Your cat may have to undergo further testing to diagnose their electrical injury. The tests include an ECG of the heart, ultrasound of the lungs and blood test to check their oxygen levels. You may need to take your cat to a specialist for an MRI-scan or CT-scan, but this is only done for severe cases of electrical injury.
Your veterinarian diagnoses your cat based on the symptoms, physical exam, additional tests and exposure to electrical cords.
Treatment of Electric Cord Bite Injury in Cats
Your furry friend will more than likely have to stay in the animal hospital during their treatment.
If your cat is in a state of shock, the staff will administer intravenous fluids by putting them on a drip. The fluids maintain their blood pressure and restore any protein or fluid your cat lost due to large burns.
Your cat may receive medication for pain, burns, abnormal heart rhythm, difficulty breathing, and fluid buildup in the lungs. Your veterinarian may also prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection to the skin.
Your veterinarian may suggest a skin graft or another surgical procedure to help large burns heal quickly.
Your cat may need oxygen support for severe electrical injuries.
A severe electrocution may require a small shock to promote a normal heart rhythm.
Your cat will be placed in intensive care if they are unconscious or in a coma. This form of treatment includes medication, oxygen and the possibility of artificial ventilation.
Recovery of Electric Cord Bite Injury in Cats
It is important to schedule a follow-up appointment to see how your pet is recovering. You want to make sure their skin is healing and their heart rhythm and breathing have returned to normal.
The recovery period depends on their health and the severity of the electric shock. Your cat will recover if they are healthy and only suffering from a mild shock. Sadly, a cat in a coma may have brain damage or not regain consciousness at all. Take the steps to prevent an electrical injury by keeping cords and wires out of reach, checking for faulty wiring and keeping your cat inside during thunderstorms.
Electric Cord Bite Injury Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I have no money to bring my kitten to the vet. She was electrocuted. She's breathing really fast and wakes up periodically and goes right back to sleep. What do i do?
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