Nobody likes an emergency, especially when our non-english speaking pets are involved. What is an emergency vet hospital, how do you find one and when should you go there? You likely have a regular vet who takes care of your asthma cat in a routine kinda way, but sick kitties are anything but routine. If you’ve been woken up by a feline asthma attack in your house you know what I’m talking about, so let’s take a look at the what, why and where of emergency vets.
What is an Emergency Vet Hospital?
I’m guessing you know what an emergency room is – an emergency vet hospital is the same thing, but for our four-legged friends. It’s a 24hr clinic, specialising in emergency veterinary medicine and critical care. Unlike the human emergency room, it’s often a good idea to call ahead and let the staff know that you’re coming and what the problem is, otherwise patients are seen on a triage basis – that is, the most critical cases are seen first.
Cat Emergencies That Require Immediate Attention
Sometimes it’s hard to know when to take your cat to the emergency room. While some emergencies are obvious, some illnesses progress over time and are undetectable to the untrained eye. As we know, cats tend to hide their sickness so it’s important to know your cat – and if you can get your head around a few of the more common cat sicknesses, you’ll have a better chance of nipping these issues in the bud before they turn into full-blown health issues.
Cat sicknesses that require a visit to the emergency vet include:
- Any kind of breathing issue – this is the most obvious. Open mouth breathing, laboured breathing, rapid breathing (over 40 breaths per minute is a bad thing) and coughing that does not produce anything are all good reasons for a trip to the emergency room, especially if the gums are blue as well.
- Signs of distress or severe pain – pain is always a reason for treatment, as it usually points to a more serious problem. Signs of pain include overreacting to contact with the painful area, distressed yelling or vocalising, hiding and panting.
- Severe bathroom issues – including straining to urinate, crying in the litter box, blood in the urine and protracted diarrhea.
- Continuous vomiting – most cats spew from time to time, but if your cat yaks more than three times in a day that’s cause for concern.
- Extreme lethargy – not moving, inability to walk, hiding and signs of weakness need to be checked out sooner rather than later.
- Not eating – loss of appetite is a serious issue – please don’t assume that your cat will just eat when he’s hungry. If your cat stops eating for more than 24hrs, you need to see a vet.
- Eating something that isn’t food – obviously poisons fall into this category, as do things such as ribbons, hair ties, paper clips and broken bits of toys.
- Any type of trauma – such as being hit by a car, bite wounds, lacerations and serious head injuries. Fights with other cats can often cause these kinds of injuries.
- Seizures – these often come in clusters and get worse over the course of a few hours, so immediate vet attention is required.
- Sudden paralysis of the rear end – aortic thromboembolism is a complication of heart disease in which a blood clot lodges itself in the rear end and causes paralysis. This is extremely painful for your cat and should be treated by a vet immediately.
What to Tell The Emergency Vet
If your cat is obviously in distress you will need to make your trip to the emergency room as comfortable as possible for the kitty. Stay calm and get there as quickly and safely as possible. The vet will ask all the what/why/where questions, so before you leave home a quick investigation will help you to give the best answers to help your cat. Things to take note of include:
- What your cat has swallowed/eaten – or not eaten, and for how long.
- Any medications your cat regularly takes – include prescriptions and any over the counter remedies you use.
- What caused the trauma – was it a car accident? A bad fall from a height? A fight with another cat?
- Any history of illness or injury – particularly if you’re attending the emergency vet for a similar problem.
- Your cat’s behaviour – details of the last few days may help the vet to determine what’s wrong.
- Samples – yes it’s gross, but if you can describe what the diarrhea or vomit looks like, for example, the vet will have a better chance of figuring out what the problem is. If you can take a (gross) sample, even better.
How to be Prepared For a Cat Emergency
Preparation is the key to dealing with emergencies well. Kitties are curious creatures who are bound to get themselves into trouble occasionally, so even if your cat is perfectly healthy it’s handy to have an emergency plan in place. If your cat is asthmatic, it’s even more important to know how to deal in an emergency situation.
- Locate your nearest emergency vet hospital – keep their phone number somewhere handy and learn how long it takes to get there in both heavy and light traffic.
- Keep your cat’s medical records together – preferably in an easily accessible place so you can grab them in a hurry if you need to.
- Leave the cat carrier out – if it’s in kitty’s home as part of the furniture, he’ll be less freaked out about having to get into the thing. This will also save you from digging around in the garage or the top of the closet to find it.
- Keep a diary of your asthma cat’s symptoms. It’s much easier to spot patterns and potential triggers when they’re written down. Don’t try to rely on your memory, especially when you’re stressing out about your little fluffball already.
We all hope that an emergency never happens, but big bad reality says it probably will happen and of course, when you least expect it. Knowing what constitutes an emergency and having a plan in place will give you a better chance of getting your cat the care he needs and getting him on the road back to good health as quickly as possible.
Have you ever made a trip to the emergency vet? Were you prepared? If you answered no and you’d like me to
kick your ass motivate you, please leave your comments (or questions) in the box below.