Life doesn't always go to plan and sometimes our cats can be struck by illness or injury that requires medical attention. In an emergency situation, would you know how to react?

When faced with a medical emergency, it can help if you know your cat's vital signs, including temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and gum colour, which you can pass to a first aider or a vet. As your cat's owner, you are the most valuable source of information for anyone helping your cat, as no one has better knowledge of what is normal for them and what isn't.

Get prepared

It can help to have your vet's telephone number and address written down so you can contact them quickly in an emergency. Put this information somewhere safe but accessible, and make sure everyone in the household knows where it is.

If you are away from home, make yourself aware of your nearest vet and familiarise yourself with the route you'd take to get there.

Keep up to date details of your pet, including their weight and when they were last vaccinated etc.

Know their signs

Temperature - you can take your cat's temperature either by placing a probe inside the ear, or inside the rectum. Whichever way you do it, be slow and careful. Leave the thermometer in place for two minutes (or until it beeps). In a normal, healthy cat, the reading should be between 100-102.5 degrees fahrenheit.

Pulse - work out your cat's bpm by pressing a finger just behind the left leg and counting the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to get the heart rate in bpm (beats per minute). You might want to do this a few times when your cat is at rest and then take an average.

Breathing - to take your cat's respiration rate, count the number of times the chest rises and falls in the space of a minute. You need to allow a full minute to get an accurate reading, and make sure you do this when your cat is relaxed and standing. Typically, a healthy cat will take between 20-30 breaths per minute.

Gums - the gums should be a healthy pink colour and, when pressed, should return to colour within 1-2 seconds. Any longer than this and there could be cause for worry. The gums should not be pale, white or blue.

We hope this helps, but should you have any questions or words of advice for our other readers, please feel free to comment below.

Written by: Hannah Dyball