If your cat has suffered a sudden trauma or is experiencing any life threatening symptoms, please call us immediately at: (760) 456-9556

What To Do If Your Cat May Be Having A Veterinary Emergency

In case of a cat emergency, The Drake Center For Veterinary Care is open 7 days a week: 8 AM-5 PM on Saturday and Sunday, and 7 AM to 7 PM Monday through Friday. After hours, take your cat to Veterinary Emergency Group, California Veterinary Specialists-Carlsbad, or Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego. 

Cat Emergencies That Require Immediate Veterinary Attention

Cats can be very subtle in showing signs of illness. Therefore, it is most important that you be on the lookout for subtle changes in your cat's behavior. If your cat normally greets you and wants to eat when you get home from work, and all of a sudden they neither greet you nor want to eat, this may be a very serious sign of a need for veterinary medical help.

The following are conditions that warrant immediate veterinary care for your cat: 

  • Difficulty Breathing - This may be the most serious of all non-trauma-induced injuries because hypoxia (low oxygen levels) and the events that follow can lead to respiratory arrest and possibly death if not treated quickly. In addition, when this is occurring, your cat is suffering and panicked. Difficulty breathing is an immediate emergency. It may arise slowly or acutely. Regardless, when you notice any of these symptoms, your cat is in trouble and needs veterinary care. Symptoms include labored breathing (this can be subtle, but it looks like your cat's chest is moving faster and more pronounced while breathing), making noisy breaths, puffing of the lips, or even open mouth breathing. If you see or suspect these symptoms, seek immediate emergency care. 

  • Urethral Obstruction - This is a blockage in the urinary tube that leads from the bladder to the penis. When obstructed with mucus or crystals, your cat cannot urinate. This is both very painful and leads to metabolic changes which will cause death quickly if the obstruction is not relieved. This can lead to kidney damage, bladder rupture, and cardiac arrest. Symptoms include urinating outside of a litter box, straining and only producing very small amounts of urine, vocalizing due to pain or distress, frequent trips to the litter box, and excessive genital grooming. This mainly affects male cats, but female cats can have urinary problems too. Although, female urinary issues are generally less likely to have a blockage.

  • Hind-End Paralysis - If you find your cat unable to use its rear legs and is showing signs of stress and pain, it is an emergency. This condition is known as aortic thromboembolism or ATE. It is a complication of heart disease that causes a blood clot to lodge in a large vessel of the hind legs. Symptoms include panting, vocalizing, pain or distress, and severe physical distress resulting from an inability to move the hindquarters of the body. This requires immediate emergency care.

  • Not Eating/Drinking - It should be a concern if your cat does not eat at its usual time or its usual amount. Cats do not go extended periods of time without eating or drinking, and doing so may be a sign of serious illness, including kidney failure, diabetes complications, or intestinal obstructions. If you notice your cat not eating or drinking for more than one day, seek emergency care.

  • Vomiting and/or Diarrhea - Almost all cats have soft stools occasionally, but if your cat vomits repeatedly or has persistent watery or bloody diarrhea, seek urgent care.

  • Ingestion of Toxins - If you witness your cat ingesting toxic substances, it is essential to seek emergency care. If it is known what toxin your cat ingested, bring the packaging or label for the veterinarian to read and administer proper treatment. Recovery rates are exponentially better when immediate emergency care is provided. 

  • Seizures - Although a solitary seizure may not be life-threatening, seizures can come in clusters and can become progressive. Seizures have many causes, including ingestion of a toxic substance, medication, and even low blood sugar. If your cat has never had a seizure and is not currently under the care of a veterinarian for a seizure disorder, we recommend seeking immediate medical attention. Seizures are generally a sign of serious illness in a cat.

  • Major Trauma - If your cat experiences major traumas, such as an attack by a dog, falling from a height, or being hit by a car, seek emergency care immediately. Remember, cats do not usually show immediate symptoms of injury, even when they have internal trauma. Veterinarians will be able to assess and look for the not obvious signs of serious illness.

Of course, we cannot explore every possible emergency scenario here; however, if you are worried about the health of your cat, and especially if you are worried that they may be experiencing a life-threatening situation, please call us immediately or simply bring your cat to our clinic located at:

195 N. El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 456-9556

Getting Your Cat Safely To An Emergency Clinic 

It is important to understand that although you might have an incredibly special bond with your feline friend, during a time of illness or injury, a cat's natural instinct can result in aggression toward anyone attempting to handle him or her. If your cat is suffering from an emergency and needs to be transported to an emergency hospital, you have a responsibility to make sure no subsequent injuries occur to any party. Follow these tips for safely transporting your cat to an emergency care clinic:

  • First, gently place a towel over your cat's head to prevent biting, and then slowly lift him or her into an open-topped carrier or box.
  • Be sure to support the cat's body weight, which should also help with relaxation.
  • Take special care to support your cat's head, and avoid any twisting of the neck, especially in cases of possible spinal injury.

Once secured, immediately transport him or her to an emergency cat clinic. If possible, call ahead to alert the staff of your pending arrival so they can adequately prepare for you in the meantime.

What To Do If Your Cat Eats Something Poisonous

If you see your cat ingest a toxic substance, or even if you suspect that he or she has, it is important to seek emergency cat care immediately.

Go directly to the veterinarian. Bring the bottle or know the type of medication or poison ingested. Call on your way in and tell them what the cat ingested and how long ago it was ingested, and the amount.

Call The Drake Center at (760) 456-9556 if you are unsure about whether or not you should seek medical attention for your cat; we will assist in guiding you to the right care.