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Cat Emergency? We Are Here For You

If your cat has suffered a sudden trauma or is experiencing any life-threatening symptoms, please call us immediately at: (949) 383-4046

What To Do In Case Of A Cat Emergency

There are times when you are certain that your cat has an emergency (ie: hit by a car) and there are times when you are very concerned but not convinced that it is an emergency requiring immediate care. When in doubt, if it's during regular office hours, call us. Our staff will do our best to help you decide if it would be best to come to us or go straight to the 24 hour critical care specialists.  Unfortunately, cats will quite often mask symptoms and it may be difficult to determine the seriousness of the illness. We are here for you and will take care of your cat in the best way possible.

Do your best to remain calm and have a driver and a passenger hold the cat while you drive. Emergencies are very stressful and it is important that you do your best to remain calm. Your cat will be soothed by your ability to remain calm and speak and a calming tone while driving it to the hospital.

 

Cat Emergencies That Require Immediate Veterinary Attention

We have compiled the following list of emergency situations in order to help you decide whether or not your cat requires emergency care:

  • Difficulty Breathing: This is 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 alarming noises, or puffing of the lips. If you see or suspect these symptoms, seek immediate emergency veterinary care
  • Restlessness: Simply put, restlessness is when your cat simply cannot get comfortable. Restlessness can be a sign of many urgent or emergency situations. It can include excessive panting, inability to lie down comfortably, abdominal distension, or unsuccessful attempts to vomit. 
  • Seizures: Although a solitary seizure may not be life threatening, seizures often come in clusters and can become progressive. Seizures have many causes including ingestion of a toxic substance or medication. 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
  • Collapse or Profound Weakness: These can be symptoms of a major illness like internal bleeding, anaphylactic shock, certain poisons, an endocrine condition, and some types or organ failure. No matter the cause, seek emergency cat clinic care immediately if your cat collapses or seems to be uncharacteristically weak
  • Major Trauma: It is essential to seek immediate medical attention if you have reason to suspect hemorrhaging, or if your cat has fallen, been struck by a car, or gets into a fight. Remember, some cats hide their injuries as an instinctual defense mechanism, so if something has happened that would cause you to suspect major trauma, seek immediate medical attention
  • Cat or Dog Fight: All cats should be seen by a veterinarian after a fight. The bite wounds or puncture wounds on the outside of a cat are usually just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the amount of damage the cat may have sustained during the fight. This is especially important when a cat has been attacked by a larger dog. A puncture wound on the skin may involve severe damage on the inside of the cat's abdomen or thorax which might include a lacerated liver or spleen which will cause internal bleeding or a punctured lung which will cause hypoxia and death if not treated
  • Protracted Vomiting or Diarrhea: If your cat vomits once or has a single loose bowel movement, he or she may not require any treatment other than a few hours of resting the stomach and a day or two of bland food. However, repeated vomiting and diarrhea, especially with the presence of blood, can rapidly lead to life-threatening dehydration. This can also be a symptom of major problems such as gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Struggling to Urinate: This could signify a bladder infection, which is painful but not life threatening. However, this could also represent obstruction of the urinary tract by bladder stones, which is a very urgent condition. Because of this, if you do notice that your cat is struggling to urinate, seek urgent veterinary care
  • Not Eating or Drinking: This is a judgment call on your part. Your cat will not finish every bit of kibble in his or her bowl every time. However, if he or she goes for an extended period of time, like 24 hours or more without eating or drinking, then seek medical attention
  • Coughing: Excessive and repeated coughing could be a symptom of something as innocuous as a minor infection or as life-threatening as congestive heart failure or poisoning. When in doubt, the safest course of action is a veterinary visit
  • Loss of Use of Rear Legs: This is especially common in cats with heart disease. This is an emergency situation and you should seek immediate care for it
  • Severe Pain: This is always an emergency. If your cat is restless, hiding, vocalizing, panting, profoundly limping, or exhibiting other symptoms of agony, don't let him or her suffer, and seek immediate emergency cat care
  • Known Exposure to Toxins: We discuss this more in depth in its own section on this page, but if you know or suspect your cat has ingested toxins or medications, contact the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline, or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately

The above list is not exhaustive and there are many more situations that may necessitate emergency care for cats. If the situation appears immediately life threatening, please call us, or procede directly to a 24-hour emergency facility.

Our staff will do everything possible to save the life of your feline friend and restore it to full health.

Tips For Getting To A Cat Emergency Room Safely

Although your cat might be very well behaved and trained, please remember that in an emergency situation, their instinct, as well as feelings of pain or fear, could lead them to bite or scratch you if you attempt to secure them. If your cat needs to be transported to an cat emergency room, you have a responsibility to ensure no subsequent injuries occur to any party. Follow these tips for safely transporting your feline companion to an emergency cat clinic:

  • Approach your cat slowly and calmly
  • Kneel down and say his or her name
  • If your cat shows aggression, you may need someone to aid you in securing and transporting your cat. Towels may be used around the head or neck to attempt to keep the cat from biting while you move it
  • If he or she is passive, fashion a makeshift stretcher and gently lift him or her onto it
  • Take care to support the neck and back in case they have suffered any spinal injuries

Once secured, immediately transport him or her to an emergency cat clinic. If possible, call ahead to alert the staff to your pending arrival so they can adequately prepare while you are en route.

First Aid For Cats

Sometimes, it is necessary to perform first aid in order to stabilize your cat before transporting it to an emergency clinic. Other times, first aid for cats can be performed at home in order to save their life and buy you enough time to make the trip to a 24 hour dog hospital. Some first aid techniques you can use on cats include:

  • For external bleeding due to trauma, try to elevate the affected area, and apply direct pressure to the wound. This could include constructing a makeshift tourniquet to isolate an affected limb. Most importantly apply firm pressure with towels and keep pressure applied until you arrive at an emergency hospital. Placing pressure over a wound will help to stop the loss of blood.
  • For choking emergencies, place your fingers in your cat's mouth to see if you can remove the blockage. Be careful to not push the blockage farther back into the throat, and mind your fingers to ensure they're not bitten due to fear on the part of your cat.
  • If you cannot remove the object, perform a modified Heimlich maneuver by giving a sharp rap to your cat's chest. This should help dislodge the object. We recommend learning how to perform this maneuver beforehand in order to minimize the risk of injury in the case of an actual cat emergency.

We recommend learning various ways to perform first aid for cats. The only way to be prepared in an emergency situation is to educate yourself before any emergency occurs.

How To Perform CPR On Your Cat

It is a very good idea to know how to perform CPR on both humans and animals, because you never know when you might need to use it to save a life. Performing CPR on your cat may be necessary if he or she remains unconscious after you have removed an obstruction. If a cat emergency like this occurs, take the following steps to perform CPR on your beloved feline companion:

  • First check to see if he or she is breathing
  • If not, place him or her on their side and perform artificial respiration by extending the head and neck, holding the jaws closed and blowing into the nostrils once every three seconds
  • Make sure no air escapes between your mouth and their nose
  • If you don't feel a heartbeat, incorporate cardiac massage while administering artificial respiration. This includes three quick, firm chest compressions for every respiration, until your cat resumes breathing on his or her own

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.

Finding The Nearest Emergency Cat Clinic

The closest emergency pet clinics are:

Advanced Veterinary Internal Medicine in Tustin at (949)653-2846

VCA Orange County Veterinary Specialists in Tustin at (949)654-8950

Central Orange County Emergency Animal Clinic in Newport Beach at (949)261-7979

Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Irvine at (949)833-9020

Yorba Regional Animal Hospital in Anaheim at (714)921-8700

Animal Urgent Care in Mission Viejo at (949)364-6228 

 

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