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Common Injury in Kittens – Electrocution

03/06/2016 by Healthy Paws
March 6th, 2016 by Healthy Paws
        

Kittens are known for making the world their playground. It’s important to make their environment safe and remove any potential hazards. However, accidents do happen; those involving electrical cords are more common than you’d think.

Causes

Chewing or clawing at electrical cords can cause the plastic coating to wear or fray, leaving a live exposed wire underneath. This can give a kitten a nasty shock and burns; some severe shocks can even lead to heart and lung problems. Strangulation or choking is also a threat – kittens see dangling cords as playthings and can accidentally get looped in them, leading to tragedy.

Symptoms

Signs of mild electrocution include singed whiskers or fur around the mouth. If you see any raw, red skin, this can indicate a more serious burn; seek veterinary attention, as burns can be painful or become infected. More severe symptoms of electrocution affect the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems:

  • Coughing
  • Rapid or difficulty breathing
  • “Crackling” lung sounds
  • Blue skin
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizure
  • Physical collapse

Kittens displaying these symptoms following electrical shock require emergency veterinary care – their bodies are so delicate that organ failure or death can quickly follow.

Pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs, is a symptom of electrocution that reveals itself anywhere from a few hours to several days after the initial incident. If your kitten’s breathing is wheezy, dry, and they are panting open-mouthed, seek veterinary attention to treat this dangerous side-effect.

Emergency Procedure

  1. If you see your kitten being electrocuted, do not immediately attempt to touch him; this could lead to you becoming shocked too! Instead, turn off the electricity first.
  2. If your cat is in water, use a broom handle or non-conductive pole to move him.
  3. Look for vital signs – a heartbeat and breathing. If your kitten is unresponsive, perform CPR.
  4. Gently wrap your cat in a towel and seek emergency veterinary care.

Treatment

Your vet will first make sure your kitten’s heartbeat and breathing are stable and then move on to treating any burns. Following a severe electrocution, the veterinarian may keep your pet overnight to watch for pulmonary edema. If your pet is presenting signs of this condition, diuretic medications will be prescribed to remove the fluid. Before you can take your kitten home, a battery of tests will be conducted to ensure all vitals are back to normal.

Management

After an electrical shock, if your kitten has burns in or around their mouth they may be hesitant to eat dry food. Try feeding them softer or liquefied foods until the wounds have healed. Check your kitten’s burns for signs of infection like abnormal discharge, bad smells, and swelling.

Prevention

Keep all electrical cords out of paw’s reach and replace any that are worn or frayed; any exposed wires can cause serious damage, not to mention be fire hazards. Consider placing child-proof protective covers on all wall sockets to ward off curious paws.

 

Keeping your home safe from any hazards is important in order to protect your kitten. Electric shocks can be life-threatening for kittens’ small bodies. If your pet has been electrocuted, seek veterinary attention to ward off dangerous complications like pulmonary edema.






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