How to Care for an Injured Cat: 4 Essential Steps to Take

A sick or injured cat resting

Key takeaways

Finding an injured cat, or discovering that your furry friend is injured, can be incredibly distressing.

Often, we panic and don't know how to give the right care and attention. While it's essential you seek professional advice as soon as possible, there are also things you can do to make sure they are comfortable.

In this guide, we'll explore four essential steps to take, which include seeking professional advice, keeping the cat calm, treating injuries, and encouraging them to eat and drink.

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  1. Key takeaways
  2. 1. Seek professional advice
  3. 2. Keep them calm
  4. 3. Treat injuries
  5. 4. Encourage them to eat and drink
  6. FAQs
  7. Final thoughts

1. Seek professional advice

The most important step is to get professional advice as soon as possible. There is a lot of misinformation online, so it's not enough to simply search for the symptoms.

Contact local animal control or shelter

For injured stray cats, local animal control and shelters will be able to advise you on what to do next. They'll most likely tell you about a local animal hospital that will be able to take a look at the sick or injured cat.
These organizations will be aware of community cats or strays in the area and their general health conditions, meaning they'll most likely already be aware of the animal you have found, so they'll be able to advise on the best course of action.
When you contact them, be sure to include the following information:

Where you found the stray pet

The symptoms the cat is suffering from

Any care you've given them so far

A busy animal shelter taking care of injured cats

Call a vet

If your own pet kitty is injured, call their vet immediately. If you are out of hours, they should have an emergency number on their website.
They'll most likely tell you about a veterinary hospital that has an emergency appointment available, assess the situation over the phone, and give you instructions on how to care for your furry friend until your vet is open the next day for a normal appointment.

2. Keep them calm

Your furry friend is likely to be panicking just as much as you. When they become agitated, their injuries can worsen, and they can experience even more pain. This is why it's essential you try your best to calm them down.

Comfort them

There are a few ways you can comfort an injured cat, even if it is a stray. Try the following:

Keep talking to them in a calm and happy tone: Cats can pick up on their owner's feelings through the tone of voice they use. To comfort your kitty, keep talking to them gently.

Stroke them: You may think that stroking your kitty is a bad idea if they are in pain. However, if you're confident you know where the injury is and can avoid it, stroking will help soothe your cat.

Place a blanket or familiar item of clothing/toy near them: Cats rely on their sense of smell. A toy, blanket, or piece of clothing that they regularly nap on or play with will smell strongly of their territory and home, helping calm them down.

Keep them company: Don't leave your injured cat alone. Not only will this prevent you from observing important changes, but it will also make the situation more scary and stressful for your kitty. If they don't want to be touched or are hiding, simply sit in the room near them and keep talking!

cat owner comforting their injured cat

Stay in a calm environment

An essential element of keeping an injured animal safe and calm is their environment. The most important thing is to keep your kitty in a secure room.
Unfortunately, injured cats will instinctually want to be alone and in an isolated area because they are vulnerable. It may seem counterintuitive to us, but this often leads to them running away from the house. If this happens, they can become lost and worsen their injuries.
To avoid this nightmare situation, keep your cat in one room. You can make this environment as calm as possible by:

Keeping it quiet

Avoiding too many visitors/people coming and going

Providing plenty of hiding spots

Providing a warm cat bed/box full of their favorite blankets, clothes, and toys

Leaving food, treats, and water in there

An injured cat keeping calm inside

3. Treat injuries

Minor wounds and scratches may be treatable. For those that are, it's important you do what you can to encourage the injury to heal as soon as possible.

Clean wounds

To prevent an infected wound, you should clean the area as best as possible. This can feel daunting for pet parents, especially when you know your kitty is in pain. But don't worry. Follow these simple steps and then wait for your vet's advice:


Identify the area that's wounded


Assess the situation and see whether anything is stuck in the wound or if it's infected


Pour warm water over the wound


Soak soft paper towels in warm water and gently dab the area to clean any debris away from the wound


Dry the area by softly patting it with a towel

Expert Insight: You may be tempted to disinfect the area or apply a healing gel or salve, but it's best to avoid any human medications and wait until you can get professional advice.
A sick or injured cat resting

4. Encourage them to eat and drink

It may be some time until you can get your sick or injured cat the help they need at a vet. Or, it's quite common for your vet to advise you to observe them for the next couple of days before bringing them in for a checkup. During this time, it's essential they get the food and drink they need to heal.

Wet food and liquid treats

Offering wet food can often be more tempting to an injured cat. Crunching or swallowing can take a lot of effort and is more painful, especially if the injury is near the cat's throat or mouth.
Another option is offering liquid treats in little sachets. Your kitty can get the nutrients they need just by licking, which may be more manageable for them.
Don't give up! It can be frustrating and worrying when your kitty doesn't eat, but keep persevering. Keep their food bowl clean and offer fresh food every day alongside plenty of fresh water.
an injured cat trying to eat food

Human food

Sometimes, the smell of freshly roasted chicken or some salty butter is enough to encourage your cat to eat! While we don't encourage feeding your cat salty or fatty human food often, on rare occasions, it can be useful to help them eat.
My 21-year-old cat was very ill, and for days we had tried everything we could think of to get her to eat. She was wasting away! Eventually, a little dish of butter was offered up. Immediately, she took an interest and started licking away. This helped her gain strength and eventually become well enough to eat normal cat food again!
Top Tip: Offer your kitty their favorite naughty treat and see if they'll take it.


Can a cat heal its own injury?

If a cat has a small injury, like a scratch or small cut, they can usually heal on their own. However, if it's a larger wound or a broken bone, they will need professional care from a vet.

How do I know if my cat's injury is serious?

You'll be able to tell if your cat's injury is serious if they are excessively licking, vocalizing a lot, limping, or the wound looks deep or infected. If you suspect it's serious, get medical help straight away from a professional.

How do you comfort a hurt cat?

To comfort a hurt cat, keep them calm. Keep talking to them in a soft and gentle tone and stroke them in the areas where they aren't hurt.

Can an injured cat survive?

Yes, an injured cat can survive. Cats can make a full recovery even from serious injuries like broken bones or deep wounds, as long as they get the care they need.

Do cats sleep a lot after injury?

Yes, cats will sleep a lot after they have injured themselves. They will need plenty of rest to heal and recover, but make sure you observe them. If they are sleeping for most of the day and night, get professional advice to make sure they are okay.

What to do if a cat is injured at home?

If a cat is injured at home you should get professional advice straight away. While waiting for a vet's advice on your next steps, comfort them by talking to them and keeping them in a secure and comfortable environment. You can also clean any wounds to prevent infection.

Final thoughts

It's easy to panic when you find an injured cat or your furry friend is injured, but the most important thing to remember is to stay calm. This will help you think clearly and act proactively.
Always seek professional advice as soon as you can. Even if it seems like a relatively small injury or they seem to be improving, it's essential you get them fully checked up to get them the care they need.

Written by

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Lauren Jeffries

In this blog, I combine my two areas of expertise: pets and writing. I share my personal experiences alongside plenty of animal behavior research to help owners look after their pets. I have always lived with furry friends and am now a loving cat mum to two orange kitties.

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