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Tips on house fires and your cat

We are vulnerable creatures
We are vulnerable creatures
Karla Kirby

House fires are truly shocking and horrifying events. Not only are women, children and children affected, but so are our beautiful felines. Particularly horrifying is it when the cat is home alone during a fire, Kitty can’t call for help and if you don’t have a cat door, there is no way to escape. Cats are not able to place wet towels under the door. Kitty is trapped and totally at the mercy of neighbors or passersby. Hopefully, someone will call the fire department so help can arrive ASAP.

During a fire, cats are vulnerable to the same potentially fatal products as are humans. The main culprits are smoke inhalation carbon monoxide, and burns.

Where there's fire, there's also smoke. Even though not the proverb everyone is used to, it is still true. Smoke is truly one of the most lethal aspects of fires. Cats have tiny airways and lung capacity, and parallel to babies, they are extremely sensitive to smoke. Cats don't know to get down low. Many speed about and become hysterical when trapped in a red-hot fire. In turn, this increases their respiratory rate and also the amount of smoke inhaled.

Inhaled smoke is enormously damaging to the lungs. Ash and soot are deposited within the lung tissue, making breathing complicated and complex. Cats surviving the fire may still give way to smoke inhalation injury--days later. Removing the cat from the surroundings and offering supplemental oxygen is the best preliminary treatment. Affected felines are often hospitalized for many days. Chest X-rays and medications, along with oxygen, may be necessary. If they survive, some cats may have a lifetime of breathing problems because of the residual lung damage and scarring caused by the smoke.

The rapid production and buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) is a natural byproduct of a fire. Carbon monoxide is breathed into the lungs where the molecules pass into the bloodstream and fix themselves to hemoglobin. Hemoglobin usually binds to oxygen and carries it through the bloodstream; nevertheless, if carbon monoxide is obtainable, the hemoglobin is more likely to bind to it. Signs of CO poisoning include weakness, lethargy, and collapse. If removed from the situation and given supplemental oxygen, many cats will indeed recover. There is no way to eliminate CO from the bloodstream--it must be metabolized.

Thermal burns are not that frequent but do take place enough to mention. Felines hardly ever attempt to race through burning flames. By the time the flames reach them, most have already succumbed to CO and smoke inhalation. Those that do suffer from burns regularly have them on their faces and paws. Singed whiskers, burned paws and skin are most probable Depending on the scope of the injury; treatment may be extensive and expensive. Cats with burns associated with fires usually have some measure of CO and smoke inhalation damage.

The best thing to do is to keep your house free of potential fire hazards. Never overload wall outlets or circuits. Turn off electrical appliances when you leave the house. Make sure your furnace is checked for any malfunction. Do not keep combustible materials in the home.

Regrettably, many fires occur in the wintertime. Things as simple as Christmas lights hung over a dried tree, handy space heaters in closed areas and unattended fireplaces all can be foundation of fires. Never leave a fire burning when you lave the house or even go to sleep. Make double-certain the Christmas lights are unplugged and keep the tree well=watered. Also turn off space heaters when you retire and when you leave the home.

Make it a point to let your neighbors know you have cats in our home just in case something happens when you are away. Attach a sticker to a front window or the front door to inform the fire department that there are cats inside.

If you are in your home when a fire starts up, or arrive to find your house burning, the first priority is to make sure no one is inside. If you can effortlessly remove your feline without any threat to your safety, take the cat with you as you leave. Never enter a burning building, instead call the fire department and wait for the qualified and equipped firefighters to rescue any person or any pet inside the burning structure.