What are Common Emergencies in Cats

What are Common Emergencies in Cats

What is it?

Common emergencies in cats include a range of acute and life-threatening conditions that require immediate veterinary attention. These may include trauma from accidents or falls, respiratory distress, gastrointestinal obstruction, and urinary blockages. It’s important to recognize the signs of an emergency and seek prompt medical attention to improve the chances of a successful outcome.

How is it Treated?

The treatment of emergencies in cats depends on the specific condition and its severity. In general, emergency treatments may involve supportive care, such as oxygen therapy, IV fluids, and pain management, as well as diagnostic tests to identify the underlying cause of the emergency. Some emergency conditions may require surgery or other medical interventions to stabilize the cat’s condition and prevent further complications.

Breed Predispositions

Siamese Persians Maine Coons Bengal Sphynx Ragdoll


Late one evening, Karen noticed her usually playful Siamese cat, Whiskers, acting lethargic and refusing to eat. Concerned about her beloved pet’s sudden change in behavior, Karen decided to take Whiskers to the local emergency veterinary clinic for an urgent assessment. Upon arrival, the veterinarian quickly identified that Whiskers was indeed experiencing a critical health crisis.

Common emergencies in cats are any situation where they need immediate medical care. This includes cases when your cat is injured, sick, or dying.

If your cat suffers from an injury, it may be painful and require veterinary treatment. Injuries can include cuts, burns, punctures, bites, stings, scrapes, fractures, infections, abscesses, tumors, and poisoning.

Cats who suffer from illness or infectious disease need immediate veterinary care. Illness can range from minor conditions such as ear infections to life-threatening diseases like cancer.

Diseases can include skin problems, kidney failure, liver failure, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, seizures, feline leukemia virus (FeLV), FIV, and many others.

Foreign Body Ingestion

Foreign bodies can lead to intestinal obstructions. A foreign object can cause an obstruction anywhere along the digestive tract. Ingestion of small items such as buttons, coins, toys, hairballs, and bones is usually harmless; however, larger foreign bodies can become lodged in the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, jejunum, ileum, colon, rectum, or anus. They can also block the airway, causing respiratory distress.

Cats are prone to swallowing things like toys, feathers, string, plastic bags, rubber bands, paper clips, batteries, nails, screws, bolts, and even toothpicks. Sometimes, though, they don’t know what they’re doing. For example, a cat might eat something that looks like food but isn’t. Or she could accidentally eat some dried kibble that fell out of her bowl.

Chronic Illness-Related Crisis

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar. It is estimated that between 0.2 % and 1 % of cats will be diagnosed with diabetes during their lifetime. 

There are three types of diabetes: type I, type II, and gestational diabetes. Type I is juvenile diabetes because it develops in childhood or adolescence. This form of diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces insufficient insulin, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. People with type I diabetes require daily injections of insulin to survive. Type II diabetes usually begins later in life and is associated with obesity. Gestational diabetes typically resolves itself once the pregnancy ends.

Cats with kidney disease must receive routine veterinary care. They often experience vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, and decreased appetite. Some cats become blind, deaf, paralyzed, or suffer seizures. If left untreated, renal failure can occur. Congenital disabilities, infections, toxins, tumors, trauma, hereditary factors, or unknown reasons cause chronic kidney disease.

Chronic illness-related crisis

Emergency medical attention is needed for people with diabetes who develop severe complications. These include ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar coma, hypoglycemia, dehydration, and infection. Ketoacidosis occurs when there is too much acid in the body. Low blood sugar triggers hyperglycemic emergencies, such as during exercise or stress. Hypoglycemia occurs when there is insufficient insulin circulating in the bloodstream. Both conditions cause erratic behavior and convulsions. Dehydration is due to excessive urination and drinking. Infection is common among people with diabetes because their immune systems are compromised.


Vomiting is a common sign of illness in cats. This symptom can indicate problems ranging from mild stomach upset to severe internal bleeding. Consult your vet if your cat vomits frequently or does not eat or drink.

Vomiting can be caused by several different conditions, including:

  • Gastrointestinal disease (such as gastritis)
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Poisoning
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Food allergies
  • Foreign objects stuck in the throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Stress
  • Heatstroke

If your cat has vomiting, he will likely need fluids administered intravenously. He may also require medication to help him feel better.


Diarrhea in cats is another typical medical emergency.. However, it’s important to note that diarrhea doesn’t always mean an underlying problem. Some types of diarrhea are standard and do not require treatment. However, other types of diarrhea can signal serious health issues.

If your cat has a watery stool, consult your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will want to rule out any potential causes of diarrhea, including infectious diseases, kidney failure, liver disease, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal ulcers, and urinary tract infections.

Your vet may recommend testing your cat’s blood for specific antibodies associated with these illnesses.

These tests include:

  • Feline leukemia virus test
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus test
  • Canine distemper virus test
  • Giardia parasite test
  • Cryptosporidium parasite test
  • Salmonella bacteria test
  • Rotavirus bacteria test
  • Clostridium difficile toxin test


Fever is a normal response to illness in cats. It is usually a symptom of many cat diseases, such as upper respiratory tract infections (URTI), lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI), and systemic diseases. However, the most common cause of fever in cats is URTI, caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and protozoa.

Fever is usually accompanied by lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, increased urination, decreased milk production, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and eye discharge. Contact your vet immediately if you notice your cat acting lethargic or having difficulty breathing. Fever can also be a side effect of medications.


Seizures are one of the most dangerous emergencies in cats. It happens when your cat loses consciousness. Cats who suffer from epilepsy may experience seizures without warning. These seizures can range from mild twitching to full-body convulsions. They often happen suddenly and unpredictably.

They can occur at any age, even when they are very young. Seizure symptoms include sudden loss of consciousness, muscle stiffness, twitching, trembling, stiffening of the body, jerking movements, convulsions, vomiting, urination and defecation, salivation, scratching, and head pressing against objects.

If you notice your cat experiencing these symptoms, do not panic! It would be best if you immediately took them to the vet. The sooner treatment begins, the greater chance there is of recovery. If your cat suffers from epilepsy, it must undergo regular medical examinations. It is essential to keep track of their health condition.

Difficulty Urinating

UTIs occur when bacteria enter the bladder through the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body), causing inflammation and irritation. This leads to pain during urination and difficulty emptying the bladder.

A pet should never strain to pee. If you notice your dog or cat doing this, immediately take them to the vet. They should be treated with antibiotics. You can also give your pet probiotics to help prevent further infections.

There are several reasons why pets strain to urinate, including:

  • Bladder stones are small pieces of calcium that form inside the bladder. Pets sometimes pass them without realizing what happened.
  • Kidney disease – Some diseases cause the kidneys to work harder than usual, resulting in increased pressure inside the bladder. When this happens, there is less room for urine to flow into the bladder, making it difficult to empty.
  • Infection – An infection in the prostate gland can make it hard for the pet to urinate.
  • Obesity – Excess weight around the waistline makes it harder for the bladder to hold urine.


Cats are brilliant animals. They know how to use their bodies to protect themselves. But sometimes cats can injure themselves without meaning to. If your cat suffers an injury, he may not show symptoms until days later. Signs of trauma include bleeding, swelling, bruising, and internal injuries. When this happens, acting quickly to prevent serious injuries is essential.

Your veterinarian can help you determine whether your cat needs emergency care. If he does, she’ll scrutinize him and perform tests to rule out life-threatening conditions such as internal bleeding, kidney failure, or breathing difficulties. She’ll also look for signs of infection and assess your cat’s overall health.

If your cat doesn’t seem sick but still has trouble moving around, he may suffer pain. He may even show signs of depression. A vet can treat both physical and emotional issues. For example, she may recommend pain medication or antidepressants. She may also teach you ways to keep your cat calm and comfortable.


Many household products contain chemicals that can harm your cat. Keep toxic substances away from your pet at all times. For example, he never left any cleaning supplies on the floor where he could reach them. Also, don’t let your cat eat anything poisonous.

Some poisons are colorless and odorless. They’re easy to miss if you need to look more closely. It would be best if you looked more closely. Your cat might ingest something accidentally while playing or eating. Be sure to watch your cat closely whenever he eats or drinks.

Other types of poisoning include:

  • Antifreeze – Cats love water. So they can quickly drink antifreeze. But, unfortunately, it kills them slowly over time.
  • Cyanide – This chemical is found in some plants and berries. It causes severe damage to the liver and brain.
  • Lead poisoning occurs when your cat ingests lead paint chips or dust. The metal accumulates in his body and damages his organs.
  • Poisonous Plants – Many plants have dangerous toxins. If your cat eats these, he can become seriously ill or die.
  • Radon Gas – This gas comes from uranium in the soil. It builds up in houseplants and enters your home through cracks in walls and floors.

When Should You Take Your Cat to the Emergency Vet?

When Should You Take Your Cat to the Emergency Vet?

Emergency in cats is any situation where you must take care of them immediately. This could include conditions such as when your cat gets sick, injured, or lost. It’s essential to know how to handle these situations so that you don’t lose your pet.

If your cat becomes ill or injured, there are several things you can do to help her get well again. First, you’ll want to ensure you know your cat’s symptoms before taking action. Then, immediately take your cat to the vet if you notice anything unusual, like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or seizures. Your vet can tell you what treatment your cat needs and whether they require immediate veterinary attention.

If your cat starts acting strangely, figure out why it might behave this way. For example, is your cat having trouble eating or drinking? Do they seem stressed? Have they been getting into fights with another cat? Do you think something terrible happened to your cat? Seek veterinary care immediately. They can perform tests to determine what’s wrong and advise you on how to treat your cat.

If your cat seems fine one minute and suddenly collapses, they probably have had a heart attack. Call your veterinarian right away. The sooner your cat receives proper treatment, the higher their chances of survival.

Prevention of Common Emergencies in Cats

Cats are known for being independent creatures, but there are some things you can do to keep them safe. Here are five tips to help prevent common emergencies in cats.

  1. Make sure your cat gets enough exercise. Cats like to run around and play, so they get plenty of opportunities to do this. You can buy toys from pet stores that encourage your cat to play.
  2. Keep your cat safe. Your cat could accidentally fall off something or hurt itself while playing. To prevent this, keep your cat inside when he isn’t outside. Also, make sure that your cat doesn’t chew anything dangerous.
  3. Feed your healthy cat food. A balanced diet is essential for cats because their digestive system works differently than ours. Therefore, feeding your cat dry rather than wet food is best. Dry food contains less fat and calories than wet food.
  4. Don’t let your cat out alone. This includes letting them outside during inclement weather. For example, don’t take your cat out if it’s cold, wet, windy, or snowy. They could become disoriented and lose their way home.
  5. Make sure your cat always wears identification tags. These include microchips and collars. Your veterinarian can provide information about properly caring for your cat’s tag.
  6. Never feed your cat table scraps. Cats are naturally carnivores, meaning they eat meat. Therefore, feeding them table scraps encourages them to develop health problems like obesity.
  7. Keep your cats’ food and water bowls clean. A dirty bowl can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Cleaning up vomit and feces helps avoid infections.
  8. Watch where you put your cat’s litter box. Litter boxes shouldn’t be placed near heaters, radiators, vents, air ducts, or flammable materials. Also, ensure your cat can’t reach the litter box easily.

Frequently Asked Questions

The most common way to check if your cat is sick is to look at its eyes. If they appear dull and hollow, then there’s something wrong. However, this isn’t always enough evidence to tell whether your cat is suffering from cancer or another severe illness. In some cases, your cat might just be sleeping. But how do you know if he’s asleep or dead?

If your cat usually sleeps, his breathing should be regular and deep. He shouldn’t snore or make any unusual noises while he sleeps. His body temperature should remain steady. And if he stops eating and drinking, he could be close to death.

But what if your cat doesn’t seem to be acting like himself? You might notice that he seems lethargic, weak, or even listless. Or maybe he’s having trouble moving around. If these symptoms continue, call your vet immediately.

You can also try checking your cat’s heartbeat. A healthy heart rate is usually 120 beats per minute (bpm). So if your cat’s pulse is slower than 100 bpm, he’s probably not well.

You can perform a simple test to see if your cat is alive. Place your hand gently under his chin. If he opens his mouth when you touch him, he’s still breathing. If he doesn’t move, then he’s passed away.

Many things, such as stress, illness, allergies, etc., could cause a sudden lethargy. Cats’However, the most common causes of lethargy include kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, heart problems, cancer, and parasites. Other less common causes of lethargic behavior in cats include feline leukemia (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and toxoplasmosis.

If you’re concerned about your cat’s health issue and don’t know where to turn, you might try searching online for “emergency cat hospitals near me.” While it’s good advice to check out local vet clinics, sometimes people are looking for a specific type of facility—like one that specializes in treating cats with certain conditions. And while there aren’t many pet hospitals that offer 24/7 emergency care, some do.

The National Association of Animal Hospitals says most small animal veterinarians practice general medicine and surgery. However, some specialize in particular areas, like orthopedics, dentistry, internal medicine, dermatology, neurology, ophthalmology, cardiology, gastroenterology, urology, nephrology, endocrinology, and others.

It is always good to ask someone who knows before approaching an injured animal. However, if you do not know how to handle an injured animal, it is best to call your local veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitator first. They can advise you on what to do if the animal is injured.

If you see an injured animal, there are several things you should consider doing.

  1. Make sure the animal is still alive. You don’t want to get bitten!
  2. Try to determine whether the injury is life-threatening.
  3. Contact your vet immediately if the animal appears to suffer from a severe injury, such as a broken leg.
  4. If the animal seems healthy enough to survive, take note of its location and any identifying marks so that you can report the incident to authorities.
  5. Please contact your local law enforcement agency if you cannot help the animal.

Many people are faced with situations where they must decide whether or not they should try to treat a seriously injured or sick animal themselves. This decision should be based on several factors, including the seriousness of the injury or illness, how long the animal has been suffering, and what type of injuries or illnesses the animal may have. However, if you do choose to treat the animal yourself, there are some things you should know about doing so.

  • It is essential to remember that you cannot always successfully treat an animal yourself. You may think you can because you see someone else successfully treating an animal like yours, but this doesn’t mean you can do the same thing. There are many reasons why animals need medical attention and are treated by veterinarians.

Some of those reasons include severe trauma or injuries, such as broken bones, punctures, lacerations, and burns; chronic conditions, such as cancer, kidney disease, heart problems, and diabetes; and infections, such as bacterial pneumonia, viral respiratory diseases, and parasitic infestations. These issues require immediate veterinary intervention and often involve surgery and medication.

  • Even though you may feel confident to treat your animal yourself, you shouldn’t. Many everyday household items can be dangerous if misused on an animal. For example, most medications intended for humans can be toxic to dogs and cats. Over-the-counter remedies such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin can harm pets. In addition, certain types of wounds, such as cuts and scrapes, can become infected if left untreated.
  • The longer you wait to seek veterinary help, the worse the outcome could be. For example, animals that suffer from life-threatening emergencies, such as cardiac arrest, are unlikely to survive without proper treatment. Similarly, if your dog suffers from heat stroke or a seizure disorder, he may die if you don’t act quickly to prevent further damage.

Cats’ three clinical signs of shock are tachycardia (a faster-than-normal heart rate), hypertension (high blood pressure), and an irregular breathing pattern.

Signs of distress in cats may include hiding, meowing incessantly or crying out, being unusually skittish or aggressive, and showing other indications of fear, such as pacing back and forth or rubbing against objects.

Cats are polypeptides, which can be afflicted with various illnesses and conditions. The most common ailments in cats include upper respiratory tract infections (URIs), feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infection, parasites such as roundworm or hookworm infestation, kidney disease, heart disease, demodectic mange mite infestation, and cancer.

If you notice your cat is lethargic, has a dry mouth or nose, isn’t eating or drinking, is having difficulty urinating or defecating, has discharge from the eyes or ears, and appears in pain, there may be a problem. Some symptoms of illness in cats include depression; fever; decreased appetite; vomiting; diarrhea; Constipation. Additionally, cats who suffer from arthritis may develop mild symptoms such as limping and being reluctant to move around. 

If your cat exhibits signs of an illness or injury, you should bring them to the ER. These could include refusal to eat, being excessively sick or lethargic, and not responding to treatment.

According to veterinarian and pet columnist Dr. Judy Bartlett, feline leukemia is the leading killer of cats in the United States. Other causes of death include accidents and being hit by a car.

One sign of something wrong with your cat may be excessive or frequent scratching. Another sign could be when the cat consistently spreads its hair on the floor. If there are any sudden changes in your cat’s behavior, those should also be considered as possible signs of a problem.

  1. Foreign Body Ingestion – A foreign object such as wood, a toy, or a sock can cause your cat to regurgitate food and bile. If you suspect this is causing the vomiting, take your cat to the vet for examination and treatment.
  2. Pancreatitis – This is a severe condition in which the pancreas does not function properly, and this can cause vomiting and diarrhea. If your cat has pancreatitis, it will likely need to be hospitalized for treatment.
  3. Metabolic Disorders – Certain metabolic problems can lead to vomiting and other symptoms related to food poisonings, such as dehydration or weight loss. Your veterinarian will perform a series of tests to determine the underlying issue and provide appropriate treatment.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.

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