Cats can choke if they try to ingest something that is very large and/or gets lodged in their mouth or throat. If your cat is unconscious you should perform CPR. However, if your cat is still conscious you will want to try to either open the mouth and remove the obstruction with your fingers or tweezers or perform the heimlich maneuver if the object is out of reach.

Symptoms to look for:

  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Gagging

If you can reach the obstruction:

  • Open the mouth and pull the tongue forward.
  • Look into the mouth for any foreign objects and try to dislodge them with your fingers, forceps or tweezers.

If you can’t reach the obstruction:
In this case you will need to perform the heimlich maneuver. This is a technique developed by U.S. surgeon Henry J. Heimlich, M.D. to dislodge food or other objects blocking breathing in a conscious victim. The technique involves applying pressure to the abdomen with a series of quick, forceful thrusts.

  • Kneel on the ground and hold your cat with one arm under his/her ‘armpits’ and chest. Your cat should be ‘standing erect’ on his/her hind feet with his/her back touching your chest.
  • With your other hand place your fist just below the last rib, where the diaphragm is located.
  • Give two or three quick pushes upward. This should force air into the windpipe dislodging whatever is blocking the airway.