Skip to main content
Cute calico cat napping in sunlight

Can I give a cat CPR?

Q: I recently took a pet first aid class, and the veterinarian who taught it did not include CPR instruction. I feel cheated. I have three cats and think it's important for me to know feline CPR. Can you tell me what I need to know?

A: The most important thing to understand about CPR is that you probably will never need to use it on a pet, and if you do, your efforts probably will be unsuccessful, even if you'd been trained. That's because a cardiopulmonary arrest usually occurs during the final stages of a cat's or dog's illness.

Even when cardiopulmonary arrest occurs in the animal hospital, where staff can respond immediately with CPR, oxygen, stimulant drugs and other treatments, fewer than 10% of pets that were not anesthetized at the time survive long enough to be discharged from the hospital. These dismal statistics are even worse when the arrest occurs outside the hospital.

The most common cause of sudden heart failure in apparently healthy cats is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle. Unfortunately, by the time the cat collapses, the disease has progressed to the point that it cannot be reversed, and no amount of CPR is likely to be successful.

I hope you feel better knowing you possess the most important feline first aid skills and that your cats are unlikely ever to need CPR.

Editor’s Note: Having the supplies to stabilize your dog during an emergency can help save its life. Here are tips for creating a pet first aid kit for home or on-the-go.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at vet@askthevet.pet

Protect your pet from the unexpected with Figo Pet Insurance, rated “Best Pet Insurance” by Reviews.com since 2017.

Man sitting on bench with his dog

We believe that seeking out the best...

Small dog being examined by veterinarian

At Figo, we hear this question often...

What do the Cockapoo, the Puggle, the...

Dog receiving treat from woman

August 8th is #NationalCBD day! At Figo...

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog
Puppy crate training in progress

There are many tools I utilize when training...

Kristin Levine with dog

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

Dog and pet parent listening to music in front of speaker

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...

Woman drinking coffee and holding small cat near

On any given day, between 50 and 70 million...

Labrador Retriever retrieving a blue frisbee from the yard

One of the best things about owning a dog is...

Woman with dog looking at tablet

Since 2017 Americans have spent between $17...

Small dog sits in front of steps of house

Moving from a 2 bedroom condo in the city to...