Shock is often difficult to recognize because it may not appear until after an accident, as much as eight to ten hours later, when the cat is no longer being watched carefully. There are several causes of shock; the most common is blood loss. The following are signs that may indicate the presence of shock:
- Depression (quietness and inactivity) and lack of normal response to external environmental stimuli. This may progress to unconsciousness.
- Rapid heart and respiratory rate.
- Poor capillary refilling time. To test for this, press firmly against the gums, causing them to blanch (whiten) beneath your finger. Lift your finger and see how long it takes for the color to return to the blanched area. The normal refilling time is no more than one or two seconds.
- Lowered body temperature. The extremities (legs and paws) and skin become cool to the touch, and the rectal temperature often drops below 100 degrees F
If your cat shows signs of shock following injury or prolonged illness, wrap in a towel or blanket to preserve body heat. A hot water bottle filled with warm water, not hot, may be placed next to the cat.