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7 Reasons Why You Should Take a Pet First Aid Course

They're not too expensive, and what you learn can make the difference between life and death.

 |  Feb 6th 2014  |   4 Contributions


A bunch of years ago, a friend called me in a panic because his cat was having seizures and he thought she may have been poisoned. Because I’m reasonably well trained in human first aid, I had at least some idea what to do (and what not to do) to get the cat stabilized until we could get her to a vet, but my friend was just about losing it because he had to manage three scared and sad children as well as a seizing cat.

The cat turned out okay, but that experience cemented my desire to learn more about how to be a good first responder in animal emergencies. I finally got the chance to take a pet first aid class last year, and here are some reasons why you should do the same as soon as you can.

1. Knowing what to do keeps panic at bay

It’s easy to freak out if your cat comes home bleeding, if you find a hit-by-car cat on the road, or if your cat has respiratory distress or seizures. If you learned how to handle these incidents, you’ll be able to act on your knowledge and get your cat the care she needs.

2. You’ll know what you should have in your cat’s first aid kit

Even if you know what to do, if you don’t have the supplies needed to treat your cat’s injury or illness, you’ll be in a bind. A pet first aid class will give you the chance to know what should be included in your emergency kit.

3. Pet first aid classes are not very expensive

Pet first aid classes are offered by the American Red Cross and a number of other organizations. The Red Cross pet first aid class I took cost $60, and the instructor donated his teaching fee to the Maine POM Project, a nonprofit that provides pet oxygen masks to fire departments across the state.

4. They often come with a book and video for review

If you didn’t catch everything in the class, or even if you want to brush up on your skills, the first aid book and video demonstrations can be a great refresher.

5. First aid credentials are great for lay pet professionals

If you go away for a trip and had to hire a cat sitter, wouldn’t you be reassured if you knew he or she is certified in pet first aid and CPR? Along with licensing, bonding and insurance, pet first aid certification can be a huge selling point because it proves that you’re serious about your business.

X-ray of a cat's broken leg. Photo: Shutterstock

6. Shelter and TNR workers should have pet first aid training, too

Particularly if your shelter or cat colony is in a rural area far from the nearest emergency clinic, pet first aid training can make the difference between life and death for a seriously ill or injured kitty. I know funds are tight, but your shelter or rescue group may be able to make a case for grant funding for a pet first aid class for staff or volunteers.

7. It’s part of being a responsible cat caretaker

If you have human children, you probably know at least some first-aid skills so you can keep your kids safe until the ambulance arrives or you can get to the hospital. Likewise, when we choose to bring cats into our lives, they rely on us for everything ... including first aid in emergencies.

A web search for pet first aid courses will show you the options available in your area. Also, check with local pet supply stores: I found out about the pet first aid and CPR course I took when I stopped at a pet store to buy some kitty litter and saw an announcement taped to the window.

Have you taken a pet first aid and CPR course? Have you benefited from what you learned? Have you ever had to use your skills? Tell us about it in the comments.

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.

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