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Cats + Emergency Situations

  • Feline idiopathic cystitis includes a set of clinical signs associated with abnormal urination and is an exclusionary diagnosis. Cats will often suffer waxing and waning of clinical signs such as straining to urinate, blood in urine, and inappropriate urination. Many conditions must be ruled out before a diagnosis of FIC can be made. Treatment involves addressing the stressors that triggered the clinical signs in the first place and improving the cat's environment to reduce or eliminate potential stressors. Pain medications are used to relieve your cat’s discomfort, as well as diet changes to improve clinical signs and reduce the frequency of occurrence.

  • Wounds in cats often go undetected, but can cause significant problems the longer they are present. Wounds can be easily prevented by keeping your cat indoors, but if they occur, treatment by your veterinarian is recommended. Certain viral infections can cause wounds to persist and can be transmitted through biting.

  • The sight of blood is frightening for many people, especially when an injured cat is bleeding. With quick first aid, the situation is not as scary. An injured pet is scared and in pain so be sure to take precautions to avoid being bitten. You may need to use a muzzle or have someone restrain your cat while you provide first aid. Keeping wounds covered with pressure to slow the bleeding is the first step. Minor injuries may be manageable at home, but larger wounds and internal wounds require immediate veterinary care.

  • Broken nails are acute painful injuries that require first aid, and in some cases, a veterinary visit. Nails are made up of a collection of blood vessels and nerves covered by a hard protective layer of keratin. Bleeding should initially be controlled with pressure from gauze or a towel, followed by cauterizing powder if needed. Any remaining damaged part needs to be removed which usually requires veterinary care. Depending on the level of the break, your cat may need to be sedated and/or the area numbed with a nerve block prior to trimming the nail above the break. Depending on the severity, a bandage may be placed to protect the injury. Antibiotics and pain medications may be prescribed if indicated. Broken nails are best prevented by keeping all nails short through regular trimmings.

  • Emergencies arise unexpectedly and it is important to stay calm. After realizing what has occurred, it is important to contact your veterinarian in order to provide the best chance for a successful outcome. Basic first aid in the meantime can help reduce the chance for complications.

  • While most of the time cats will land on their feet, they can still sustain serious injuries after a fall, including sprains, broken bones, head trauma, and chest or abdominal injuries. If you see your cat fall, monitor her for at least 3-5 days for anything abnormal that may develop. Serious injuries need to be evaluated immediately by your veterinarian, but there are steps you can take at home to prepare your pet to be transported to your veterinary hospital.

  • Insect stings or bites can cause mild signs of swelling, pain, and itching or can be more severe causing hives, anaphylactic reactions, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, or seizures. If the bite or sting has been observed, look for the insect or spider to allow identification. Look for a stinger and remove it carefully without squeezing more venom out of the venom sac. Depending on the severity of the reaction, first aid including cool packing the area, dosing with oral antihistamine, and prevention of self-trauma may be all that is needed; however, in more severe cases emergency veterinary attention is required to stabilize the cat, screen for organ dysfunction, and provide supportive care.

  • Lameness occurs due to the injury or debilitation of one or more parts of the leg; bones, muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, or skin. Depending on the cause of the limp, immediate veterinary care may be needed. If your dog is in severe pain, carefully transport your dog to your veterinary hospital or emergency hospital immediately. For non-emergency limps, you may be able to determine the cause of the limp and provide home care. If the lameness persists for more than 24 hours, seek veterinary care. Medication or surgery may be necessary to help your cat heal and reduce pain.

  • Tail injuries are common and can sometimes be managed with home first aid but some cases require veterinary care. Abrasions are mild scrapes that can be treated with daily cleaning and application of antibiotic ointment. Lacerations are more serious cuts that may expose underlying muscle and bone requiring stitches and often antibiotics. Tail fractures can heal well if they occur near the tip of the tail but if bones are severely damaged then amputation may be required. Nerve damage can occur from fractures, crushing injuries or severe tail pulls causing stretching or tearing of the nerves and can result in loss of fecal and urinary continence and can also result in a limp tail.

  • If your cat limps, or licks at her pads, she may have a foot pad that is torn, punctured, or burned. Minor injuries may be treated at home, but deeper or complicated wounds require veterinary attention. Clean the wound and remove small debris if possible. If larger foreign or deeply seated objects are discovered, or if the wound is deep and does not stop bleeding after 10-15 minutes, seek immediate veterinary care. Control bleeding and apply gauze as a bandage, wrapping the affected paw including the ankle or wrist. Keep the wound clean and bandaged and if any changes are noticed, seek veterinary care. Try to avoid foot injuries in your cat by surveying the areas where your cat plays and walks.