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How to Recognize a Cat Emergency

A cat owner needs to know how to recognize a cat emergency. It is better to be safe than sorry, so if you think your cat needs emergency medical assistance, call or take you cat immediately to your veterinarian or to an emergency pet hospital if after your veterinarian’s regular hours. Cats like their wild cousins are very adept at hiding illness since hurt or sick animals are vulnerable in the wild. So it is imperative that you learn how to recognize a cat emergency.

These are common signs/symptoms that may indicate that your cat needs emergency care:

HemorrhageA wound that pulses when it bleeds (indicating an artery wound) or a wound that does not stop bleeding after applying pressure for 5 minutes.LamenessSudden onset of loss of use of one or more limbs or neck and back pain, swollen limbs or wrong looking limbs (indicating a break or soft tissue injury).Seizures or AtaxiaDisorientation, appearing to be drunk, twitching, or apparent loss of ability to recognize one’s surroundings, as well as convulsions.BlindnessWalking into furniture or walls and any other indication that a cat can not see at all or that the sight is diminished.Abdominal Problems/Straining To Defecate or UrinateA cat that is having trouble defecating or urinating and makes repeated attempts may have a medical condition that requires immediate attention to prevent a fatality. Abdominal problems can be indicated by the cat’s posture (pawing at the abdomen, legs tucked close under the body).Change Gum ColorA healthy cat’s gums will appear to be pink. Gums can appear white when anemic where as blue gums can indicate breathing problems (lack of oxygen). Yellowing of the gums can point towards liver disease while redden gums can suggest shock or infection.VomitingA cat that vomits several times over an hour as well as one that vomits blood should be considered an emergency. Also a cat that refuses to eat and exhibits lethargy over a period of time.BreathingTrouble breathing can indicate respiratory infection, a foreign object in the windpipe, or even cardiac problems.

Knowing normal cat vital signs can also assist you in knowing how to recognize a cat emergency. A healthy cat’s temperature is between 100.5° - 102.5° F, heart rate should be between 140 - 220 beats per minute, and the respiratory rate should be 24 – 42 breaths per minute at rest. If any of these vital signs are significantly higher or lower, a call to your veterinarian should be placed immediately for further instructions.

Time is of the essence with the majority of the signs and symptoms described above, the sooner you can reach an emergency vet, the sooner treatment and/or lifesaving techniques can be applied in an emergency situation. Knowing how to recognize a cat emergency is necessary to assess the situation. It is imperative that you remain calm and document the signs and symptoms and when you first recognize a cat emergency.

Another good preparation for an emergency is having the veterinarian and emergency hospital numbers and address on hand prior to an emergency, and knowing when your regular veterinarian and emergency hospital have office hours so you go to the correct location for treatment. All responsible cat owners should know how to provide minor first aid at home and know how to recognize a cat emergency situation.

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