We're all allowed 10 minutes of stupid a day. Sometimes, we abuse the privilege. Cats run up into engines, fall into fires, and they knock over boiling stuff on the stove proving that self inflicted pain hurts the worst. Here's what you can do if you're forced to buy time until you can get your burned pet to the vet.
You should have these items in your animal health-chest arsenal:
What To Do
This will likely be a 2-person+ project, depending on the "agree-ability" of the patient. Most burns are thermal in type, (not chemical,) which is what the following steps cover. Care is a "learn-by-doing" process. Enlist experienced help if you can.
Step 1: Remove what burnt hair you can and determine the severity of the burn sites. Use the trimmer to clear away matted hair and expose the burned area. Matted hair will give infections the perfect place to grow.
Step 2: Make a diluted iodine & water mixture. I rather eyeball it. If you've never done it before, you can try 1 qt distilled water to 4 tsp Providone-iodine. Or you can buy it premixed. Up to you. You want to gently swab, (A paper towl can do the job,) and disinfect the injured areas and wage total genocide on all the bacterial growth on your injured cat.
Step 3: Rub on the Silver Sulfadiazine Cream on open wounds. SSD cream is available at any vet supply store. It's a medicated, topical cream, so it'll help keep out nasty infections as well. Your kitty will probably lick it off, so you'll likely be applying the SSD cream twice a day.
Step 4: Fine, clumping cat litter is a not the best when trying to keep a wound(s) clear. If you can, get the largest litter you can find. I personally use the pine-nut pellets type in such situations as it isn't dusty, and you can dump it when you're done on the compost heap. You can also get pellet litter made of newspaper and all other things. Whatever you can find, so long as it's large. If you are stuck with fine, sandy-litter, do your best to keep the wounds clean.
Step 5: Pat yourself on the back. you've done the best you can to keep kitty safe and comfortable. You didn't apply ice to any wounds and you didn't break any blisters. Job well done! Hopefully, the vet will be able to see you soon!
What to Watch For
What the Vet Will Do
The vet will be able to examine your cat and determine the best course of action. A vet will also likely administer antibiotics, as secondary bacterial infections are common in burned areas. Medications for pain are typically given, and will help kitty feel a whole lot better, faster.
If you live some nations, a dose of Convenia (antibiotic) and Buprenorphine (pain killer) may be all you need and easier to come by in livestock supply stores. In western countries, you're going to need a vet. Drugs have side effects, so don't be dumb. Use as directed and follow the laws of your country/state.
The second-most-often question we get is "How much will the vet cost?" And we don't know how to answer that. "Depends?" Vet's aren't McDonald's. Treatments aren't burgers. One size doesn't fit all. It's OK to ask about costs up front, and with burns, the odds are good that you're going to need follow up visits. The vet wants to help. Be brave for kitty.
Disclaimer: This badlands-barnyard-backwoods advice is of a general nature only, and not intended to replace the good care of a veterinary medical professional which you should take your injured pet to immediately if you can. If you are taking on the care of an injured animal, YOU need to recognize that you are taking a risk(s), and those of us at 4 Dog Blog really have no responsibility regarding your situations or decisions. We really wish you every success; your mileage may vary.
EDIT: UPDATE 1 WEEK LATER
The vet did a top notch, professional job on his injuries. Burns are icky business. When we shaved him, his whole front leg was just white. (That's not a good deal. We had to wait for his burns to declare to decide which route to go.) After removal of his dead tissue, which left him with a leg of muscle and tendons exposed, this cat gets to wear a bandage for a week, which he is not too thrilled about, but, sulking is easier to live with then infection. We'll take the next stage step by step. He's going to look a little funny for a while, and there will be SSD cream, but he's on the mend. He's one lucky kitty, considering what he went through.
Edit: Update 2+ Months Later
There was a real chance that he would lose that front leg, as there was so much damage. Many, many bandages later, over a month and a half's worth of bandages later, changed daily, or as often as he could pull them off, I am happy to report this guy has been a lucky patient!
There remains only the task of scab removal. Dead tissue will collect and cover a wound, as anyone who has ever fallen off a bike knows. The trouble can arise when that tissue starts to actually keep, you guessed it, infection, in. So, as the edges start to come off, it's probably time to remove them. Some will pull off with little effort, and kitty will save you the trouble. Some spots you can soak. Some you can cut with a scissors. There will likely be healing still going on under some of the larger areas, but by now, you know how to apply Silver Sulfadiazine Cream.
I don't usually post "Patient pictures," but thought I would make an exception to illustrate the healing process. Hopefully it helps, not just gross people out.
The best part is, this story has a happy ending. Sometimes stories have Shakespearean endings, that's true enough. Maybe it's luck. He's healed things I'm not good enough to heal. Mostly, I think it's kindness, curiosity, and a sense of humor. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.