Feb 20 2016

Common Emergencies for Cats | Winslow Animal Hospital Dog & Cat

If your cat shows signs of a health problem, it can be frightening. It’s even more frightening if you are uncertain whether it is an emergency situation. When in doubt, always call your veterinarian or the nearest animal hospital! And be aware of these common feline emergencies.


Choking or Difficulty Breathing

Sometimes choking symptoms can resolve quickly, but still cause a problem. Lack of proper oxygenation or the build-up of fluid in the lungs could be a dangerous effect of choking.

Any difficulty breathing should be considered an emergency, requiring immediate evaluation by a veterinarian. X-rays may be needed to evaluate the lungs and airways. Coughing can be a sign of several different problems, including:

  • viruses
  • bacteria
  • fungal pneumonia
  • allergic bronchitis
  • congenital heart disease

If your cat is having difficulty breathing or is coughing a lot, call a veterinarian right away!

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Parasites, sudden changes in diet, infectious diseases, and toxins are some of the common causes of vomiting and diarrhea. Some cases may be mild and not very long lasting. Other times, it persists. When these symptoms last, they can rapidly cause dehydration, and may drastically worsen, depending on the cause.


Physical trauma can come in various forms. Accidents, aggressive pets or wild animal attacks, or other forms of trauma can result in blood loss, shock, broken bones, lacerations and external wounds, internal injuries, internal bleeding, and, of course, pain. It may be lethal, depending on the severity of your cat’s injuries. In the event of trauma, your cat should be examined by a veterinarian, even if they seem healthy initially. Internal damage may not be immediately noticeable. Early interventions give your beloved pet the best chance of recovery.


In most of our households, chemicals for cleaning or other applications, medications, and garden products can be found. It is imperative to keep chemicals away from dogs, cats, and other pets! You may be less familiar with other household substances that can be toxic to cats. Chocolate and certain plants, including lilies, can be dangerous.

Foreign Body Ingestion

“Curiosity killed the cat,” the saying goes. In the case of foreign body ingestion, that may be literal. Foreign body is what we call it when a pet ingests objects. Strings, ropes, ribbons, wire, tacks, and other small objects may be tempting for your cat to explore. This puts your cat in jeopardy. Gastrointestinal problems, such as blockages or cuts can happen, whether in the throat (causing choking) or anywhere along the digestive tract, causing the body to bleed or be unable to pass waste.




Blizzard swallowed several feet of string! It was a medical emergency that required rapid treatment.

Allergic Reactions

When we talk about cats and allergic reactions, we are often talking about people’s reactions to cats. In this case, though, we are talking about a cat’s allergic reaction. These can come from a sensitivity to insect bites, foods, or other environmental irritants. An anaphylactic reaction is the most serious form of allergic reaction, and can include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, difficulty breathing, and collapse. Cats may also experience hives, itchiness, and swelling. This can be dangerous if severe, so always be prepared to call! Our number is 856-875-1323.


Cats often hide their pain. Some behavioral changes may be clues to pain:

  • Pacing
  • agitation
  • restlessness
  • panting
  • rapid heart rate
  • aggression

Some causes are arthritis, dental disease, and trauma. If you believe your cat may be in pain, bring your pet to Winslow Animal Hospital for a physical exam.


Brains, human or feline, involve tremendous electrical activity. Sometimes this activity becomes abnormal, as in the event of seizures. They can be triggered by epilepsy, tumors, or brain swelling, as well as low blood sugar and electrolyte disturbances. Any seizure could be life threatening. Some seizures occur in clusters, others occur singularly. They can occur at any time. If your pet has a seizure, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Difficulty Passing Urine

If your cat is straining to urinate, that can be a serious problem. It may be a urinary tract infection, or bladder stones. These issues can also cause difficulty:

  • inflammation
  • blood clots
  • cancer
  • stress

If your cat is straining and is unable to pass any urine, it is a life threatening emergency that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian immediately.


Abscesses result from infected wounds. They initially appear as a swelling under the skin. Eventually, an abscess may break open and drain. If the infection is not controlled, an abscess may recur after it has appeared to heal. Your veterinarian may need to clean the wound and provide antibiotics for your cat.

LifeLearn Admin | Pet Health, Tips, What's New at Winslow Animal Hospital!

4 thoughts on “Common Emergencies for Cats | Winslow Animal Hospital Dog & Cat”

  1. Thanks for the advice on what to look for if my cat is showing signs of a disease of injury. My cat loves to chew on any ribbons or string he can find, so I will be sure to keep them out of reach when I can’t supervise his play. If he ever happens to swallow something like that, I will be sure to take him to an emergency vet right away.

  2. I had no idea that there were so many risks that can affect a cat’s health. I just got my wife a cat for her birthday and we both are wanting to find out what we can do to keep him safe and healthy. Luckily it hasn’t been showing any signs of having any of these problems, but we will make sure that we read this more and become familiar with these symptoms so that we can put a stop to them if they do happen.

  3. My cat is deaf, so I keep him inside for his safety. The other day, he got out, and while I found him right away, it made me worry about what would have happened if he had gotten hurt. Like you said, trauma from a fight with a feral animal could do some serious damage, and there are a lot of stray cats around. I should find out where the nearest animal hospital is, so I can get him there quickly in case of an emergency.

  4. I think that it is important to know the different things that can be serious that can happen to your pets. That way, if you see them struggling to breathe or something else, you will know how to save them. Also, it would be a good idea to know an animal clinic so that if your pet is having constant vomits and diarrhea you will know where to go.

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