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Don’t be Fooled: How Much does Shock Look Like Death?

Posted February 19, 2015 in Cat Diseases & Conditions A-Z

In a recent viral YouTube video, a Fresno firefighter1 finds a very young, lifeless kitten during a home fire. All of this was caught on the firefighter’s GoPro camera. In this video, you see Firefighter Cory Kalanick administering oxygen by mask immediately to the kitten, which is very important for treating smoke and carbon monoxide poisoning. He then uses cool water to cool and revitalize the kitten, only to find that the kitten does indeed respond and start squirming around actively.

Unfortunately, this kitten ended up succumbing to smoke inhalation1. That said, this video goes to show you several things: the kindness of firefighters who rescue four-legged creatures, and the potential “nine lives” of cats.

As an emergency critical care veterinarian, I’ve seen many a kitten or cat be presumed dead, only to survive. I’ve seen hypothermic kittens brought in from the cold snow by good Samaritans. I’ve performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on these lifeless kittens, “called the code” and stated that they were deceased, only to have the kittens be found alive 5-6 minutes later, after having the heat lamp left on them. While rare, these occasional miracles do indeed occur.

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Justine has more than 18 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified emergency critical care veterinary specialist and toxicologist as well as the CEO and founder of Vetgirl. She is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.