What is Shock?
If you suspect your cat is going into shock, keep it warm by covering with a blanket. Never apply direct heat to your cat’s body as this may worsen your cat’s condition. Remain calm to avoid adding to your cat’s stress. Finally, don’t feed or allow your cat to drink water during this time.
Shock occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen, which will result in the circulatory system slowing down. Shock can be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma or an allergic reaction. It is imperative that you consult a vet immediately if your cat goes into shock. No matter the cause, shock can be life-threatening if not treated in time.
Symptoms of Shock in Cats
If you notice your cat exhibiting any of the following symptoms, seek immediate veterinary attention to prevent a life-threatening event:
- Pale or discolored gums
- Confusion or disorientation
- Lethargy and general weakness
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Rapid or shallow breathing
- Rapid and/or weak pulse
- Convulsions or seizures
- Loss of consciousness*
*If your cat is unconscious, it is important that you ensure it is still breathing. If you can’t detect a pulse or if breathing has stopped, artificial resuscitation may be necessary. Keep the head lower than the heart to promote circulation.
There are three types of shock in cats:
- Hypovolemic: This type of shock occurs when there has been a significant loss of blood or fluid due to an injury.
- Cardiogenic: When the heart has failed, cardiogenic shock will occur.
- Distributive: Most commonly associated with infections, distributive shock results from problems within peripheral blood vessels and causes blood to flow away from the central circulatory system.
Causes of Shock in Cats
There are many causes for shock in cats. The primary cause is usually trauma, such as being struck by a car or sustaining a serious or life-threatening physical injury. However, another common cause is an allergic reaction. This is referred to as anaphylactic shock and warrants emergency veterinary attention.
Other causes of shock include exposure to certain toxic substances, bacterial infection, heat stroke, side effect of a serious illness, and significant loss of blood. Your vet will be able to determine the cause upon diagnosis.
Diagnosis of Shock in Cats
Your vet will be able to diagnose your cat with shock based on clinical signs and physical examination. To determine the underlying cause of shock, your vet may use a number of tests. These may include blood, urine, and stool analysis, x-rays, ultrasounds, and CT scans.
Be sure to inform your vet of the duration of your cat’s symptoms as well as any underlying medical conditions or allergies that may have caused the shock. Once your cat is in a more stable condition, your vet may ask you for a complete medical history.
Treatment of Shock in Cats
Treatment methods will depend on the cause and severity of shock. However, the main goal for all treatment methods is to restore oxygen and fluid levels. Due to the time-sensitive nature of shock, your vet will begin treatment based on your cat’s specific needs immediately following the definitive diagnosis.
Intravenous fluid therapy is typically administered in cases of shock. Oxygen therapy may also be utilized if the cat is having trouble breathing. If the cat is bleeding, the vet will control the bleeding. If your cat has suffered extensive physical injury, the use of anesthetics in addition to surgery may be required. This is also true in cases of internal bleeding. If the shock is anaphylactic, your vet will administer epinephrine via injection in order for the reaction to subside.
Recovery of Shock in Cats
Always follow your vet’s post-treatment instructions carefully. If your cat is suffering from a bacterial infection and has been prescribed antibiotics, it is imperative that you administer the medication for the entire duration of the recommended treatment period. Failure to do so could result in aggressive recurrence.
If your cat has suffered from serious physical injury, ensure that it gets plenty of rest and avoids overexertion. Provide your cat with a warm place to rest, as this will encourage regulation of the circulatory system. Your vet will be able to give you specific recovery instructions if your cat has broken a bone or sustained internal injuries.
If your cat has had surgery, you will need to ensure it doesn’t irritate the surgery site. If your cat has been diagnosed with a severe illness such as heart disease, be sure to follow your vet’s instructions regarding treatment, drug administration, and recovery.
Depending on the severity of the underlying cause, your vet may schedule follow-up appointments as needed to monitor your cat’s condition.
Shock Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I got this cat from someone who was gonna let her go .. she has worms( all kinds) I know for a fact she hasn't been vetted problem is now she is now laying in the same spot she does move around and eat and go to the bathroom and drink I'm sure she probably anemic now because the person never treated her and i have dewormer on its way i can't afford a vet and im looking for rescue for her I need to know what kind of vitamin supplements to keep her alive for the time being
A multivitamin supplement for cats will do fine, but if there has been a long term infestation of worms there may be more severe health problems and after treatment with anthelmintics it is possible to have an obstruction of dead worms. Inactivity may be due to worms or other types of infections, but without an examination I cannot say for sure. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
My cats is shock she is still alive.. And breath fast heart. Rate. And all can she recover on her own? Can I give her vitamins?
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what can i do at home other than position warmth and fluids under the skin? she was hit and may have a broken leg but we need to first treat the shock. she was hit by car trying to walk n crying. now s/s shock
In cases of trauma it is important that Mushy receives adequate Veterinary care: the administration of fluids (I am scared to ask if you used normal water or if you have some proper fluids lying around – don’t use normal water), pain management and stabilisation of injuries along with x-ray’s etc… will determine the severity of injury. Please visit your Veterinarian immediately to ensure Mushy is receiving the right care. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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