VET’S VIEW: Keeping an eye on cats, despite independence

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IT MUST be the phone call that every cat owner dreads: “Hello, it’s the veterinary surgery here – do you own a black and white cat..?”

One of the attractions of cats is their independent nature, but the downside is that, all too often, they wander off.

Sometimes, thankfully, they are just mistaken for a stray and a call goes to a charity, such as the Worthing Cat Welfare Trust, or the local vet.

At other times, tragically, they come to our attention when they are brought in injured after an accident.

What should you do if your cat returns, perhaps having been missing for a while, and you suspect it has been involved in an accident?

It’s easy if there are obvious signs, such as bleeding, an open wound or limping, when you know to seek veterinary attention. Sometimes, though, cats just want to hide away.

A fur coat can readily hide signs of injury, especially if it’s black, so try gently running your hands over the cat, looking for any signs of tenderness or blood on the coat.

A good tip is to check the claws, as these are often scuffed after an accident.

You can also check the breathing to see if it is unusually rapid or laboured.

Call your vet for advice if you find anything amiss.

Please don’t be tempted to administer any human painkillers, as most are toxic to cats.

We cannot prevent accidents unless the cat is confined to the house, and even keeping them in at night is not easy, as many cats like to hunt.

So, make sure you have some form of identification.

A microchip is better than a collar, since it cannot be lost, and it’s good to know that your vet or rescue centre will always check for one in any stray or injured cat that is brought in.