Cats are mysterious creatures who can be difficult to decipher, especially regarding illness or injury. Your cat may behave differently, leaving you wondering if they’re ill, or simply being a cat. Since they are masters at hiding illness, you may not realize they are under the weather until their condition is advanced. However, several emergencies can pop up in cats that require immediate care. Here are five medical problems in cats that will prompt an urgent trip to Just Cats Clinic or an emergency veterinary hospital.

#1: Your cat is straining to urinate

Urinary issues abound in cats, whether they’re associated with urinary tract infections, idiopathic cystitis, or various disease processes. Cats commonly require emergency care related to urinary issues because they are straining to urinate. In early urinary tract infection stages, your cat may urinate more frequently, and in smaller amounts. Occasionally, you may also notice blood in the urine.

While urinary tract infections are uncomfortable and can rapidly worsen, they aren’t such a major emergency as a urinary blockage. When a cat becomes blocked, they are unable to urinate, and will often be seen squatting in the litter box, yowling in pain as they struggle to produce urine. These cats must be rushed to a veterinarian for immediate treatment, since a urinary obstruction can quickly become fatal. Male cats are most likely to develop urinary obstructions, but they can occur in females. Once the blockage—a mucous plug, urinary stone, or urinary bladder “sludge”—has been removed, your cat will need to remain hospitalized for a few days to ensure they’re urinating properly, and to correct any electrolyte imbalances. Some cats regularly suffer from urinary obstructions, and may require special surgery.  

#2: Your cat is suddenly unable to use their hind legs

Feline aortic thromboembolism (FATE) is a dramatic, painful condition where your cat suddenly cannot use their hind legs. This condition appears to paralyze your cat, and one or both hind legs can become cold, because a blood clot is impeding circulation. A saddle thrombus is a blood clot that breaks off from a larger blood clot in the heart, travels down the aorta and lodges at the saddle (i.e., the spot where the aorta splits into different arteries). Most often, blood clots are caused by heart disease, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Since the heart is not functioning properly, clots can form, which are then pushed out into the body, causing a FATE episode, or they travel to the brain or lungs. Rapid treatment provides the best outcome for cats suffering from a saddle thrombus, but the prognosis is not always good. Blood thinners, hospitalization, nursing care, and pain management can help your cat recover, but if the blood clot was caused by an underlying heart condition, your pet will also need a cardiologist’s care. A cat who survives their first FATE episode will need blood thinners for the rest of their life, and may suffer further blood clot issues.

#3: Your cat has suffered a bite wound

Bite wounds in cats can be nasty business, especially when another cat bites. If your feline friend slips out the open door and scuffles with a stray cat, they can develop a serious injury. Although a small puncture may not seem like a big deal, the wound can fester and turn into an abscess, or pocket of infection. Left untreated, the abscess can rapidly grow and cause your cat a great deal of pain. Abscesses also often require general anesthesia and surgery to flush out pus, blood, fur, and other debris, reattach tissue, and potentially place a drain. Avoid letting your cat’s bite wound turn into an abscess by seeking veterinary care immediately.

#4: Your cat has eaten a foreign object

Cats are curious creatures, but their inquisitive nature can land them in a heap of trouble. If your feline friend swallows a ribbon, button, or other object they were batting around, they’ll be unlikely to pass the object on their own. Signs may not be obvious for several days, because the object can take time to become stuck and make your pet sick with vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and inappetence. Rather than waiting until your cat is visibly ill from a gastrointestinal obstruction, contact our Just Cats Clinic team for help.

#5: Your cat was exposed to a toxin

Again, cats are prone to getting into things they shouldn’t. Whether it’s a pill dropped on the floor, an unknown houseplant toxin, or home-cleaning chemicals, your cat can be exposed to poisonous substances. Signs may not immediately appear, but prompt treatment is essential for a good prognosis, and to ward off organ damage from a potential toxin. If you suspect your cat was exposed to a toxin, don’t delay, and contact our team.

If you’re unsure whether your feline friend requires emergency care, contact our Just Cats Clinic team for help. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your cat’s health, especially considering how well they hide illness and injury.