10 Common Cat Emergencies: Be Prepared to Help Your Feline Friend

Common Cat Emergencies

Cats are curious creatures, often getting themselves into situations that might lead to emergencies.

As a cat owner, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of distress and know how to respond promptly.

This guide will help you identify common cat emergencies and provide practical steps to take when your feline friend is in trouble.

10 Common Cat Emergencies

Severe bleeding


Severe bleeding that lasts more than five minutes is a major warning sign.

Whether the bleeding is from a visible wound or a hidden internal injury, persistent bleeding requires immediate attention.

Visible wounds might be easy to spot, but internal bleeding can be trickier, presenting as pale gums, lethargy, or swelling.

What to do

Call your veterinarian immediately if you notice severe bleeding.

Persistent bleeding might indicate a deeper issue that needs urgent care.

Your cat might need stitches to prevent infection if the bleeding is from a visible wound.

If the bleeding is internal, it could require surgery, and delaying treatment could be life-threatening.

Don’t wait to see if the bleeding stops on its own—acting quickly can save your cat’s life.

Choking and difficulty breathing


Choking or difficulty breathing in cats is a serious emergency.

Signs to watch for include wheezing, gagging, coughing, and pawing at the mouth or throat.

Your cat may also have trouble breathing, appear anxious, or even collapse.

What to do

Never try to clear the airway with your fingers, as it can push the object further down and worsen the situation. Instead, learn how to perform animal CPR.

Even if CPR helps your cat breathe again, take them to the vet immediately to ensure there is no internal damage.

Quick action is crucial in these situations, and professional help is necessary to fully address the issue.


Blood from extremities


Blood in your cat’s sputum, vomit, excrement, or coming from the nose, ears, eyes, or mouth is a serious concern.

These symptoms can be alarming and indicate a variety of serious conditions, including internal injuries, infections, or even poisoning.

What to do

Seek emergency care immediately if you notice any of these signs.

Prompt veterinary intervention can prevent complications and ensure your cat receives the necessary treatment.

Delaying care can lead to severe outcomes, so act quickly to get your cat the help they need.

Inability to toilet


If your cat is experiencing pain while urinating or defecating or is unable to do either, it’s a sign of a problem.

Common signs include straining, crying out in pain, or making frequent trips to the litter box with little or no results.

What to Do

Find out why your cat is experiencing these issues as soon as possible.

It could be due to a urinary blockage, constipation, or other medical conditions that require a veterinarian’s care.

Cats often hide their pain, so any noticeable changes in toileting habits warrant a vet visit.

Addressing the issue promptly can prevent further discomfort and complications for your cat.

Injury to eyes


Eye injuries in cats can range from minor scratches to more severe damage, such as punctures or ulcers.

You might notice your cat squinting, pawing at their eye, or excessive tearing.

The eye might look red, swollen, or have a visible wound.

What to do

Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect an eye injury.

The structure of a cat’s eye is delicate, and even minor injuries can lead to serious complications if not treated promptly.

While waiting for your vet appointment, try to keep your cat calm and prevent them from rubbing or scratching the injured eye.

Avoid using any eye drops or medications unless prescribed by a vet, as some substances can worsen the condition.



Heatstroke is a serious condition that occurs when a cat’s body temperature rises excessively, typically due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures or lack of ventilation.

Signs include heavy panting, drooling, lethargy, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, and collapse. Your cat might also seem disoriented or have a bright red tongue and gums.

What to do

Move your cat to a cool, shaded place immediately.

Offer small amounts of cool (not ice-cold) water to drink, and dampen their fur with a wet cloth.

Avoid using ice-cold water or ice packs, as they can cause shock.

It’s crucial to lower their body temperature gradually.

Take your cat to the vet immediately for further treatment, as heatstroke can cause severe organ damage or be fatal if not treated promptly.


Severe vomiting or diarrhea


Severe vomiting or diarrhea can indicate poisoning, infection, or other serious health issues.

Watch for signs such as frequent vomiting, persistent diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and signs of dehydration like sunken eyes or dry gums.

What to do

Take your cat to the vet immediately if they experience severe vomiting or diarrhea.

Try to remember what your cat has eaten recently, as this information can help the vet diagnose the issue.

Keep potential poisons out of reach and be aware of common household items toxic to cats, such as certain plants, human medications, and cleaning products.

In the meantime, ensure your cat has access to fresh water to prevent dehydration, but avoid giving them food or medications unless advised by your vet.

Refusal to drink


If your cat refuses to drink water for more than 24 hours, it’s a serious problem.

Signs of dehydration include lethargy, dry mouth, sunken eyes, and loss of skin elasticity.

What to do

Take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.

Dehydration can lead to severe health issues, including kidney failure and other organ damage.

Ensure your cat’s water dish is always clean and filled with fresh water.

Even if their dish is dirty, cats usually drink when they need to, so a refusal to drink indicates an emergency.

Your vet can administer fluids and diagnose any underlying conditions causing the refusal to drink.



Loss of consciousness in cats is a critical emergency.

It can be caused by various factors, including trauma, severe illness, poisoning, or heart problems.

What to do

Contact your vet immediately if your cat loses consciousness.

While waiting for help, keep your cat in a quiet, safe environment, monitor their breathing and heart rate, and avoid moving them unless absolutely necessary.

The vet will need to evaluate and provide appropriate treatment to address the cause of the unconsciousness.

Quick action is crucial to ensure the best chance of recovery.


Additional Tips

Learn animal CPR

Knowing how to perform CPR on a cat can be lifesaving if your cat stops breathing or their heart stops.

Many pet first aid courses offer hands-on training in animal CPR, teaching you how to correctly do chest compressions and rescue breaths.

There are also plenty of online resources and videos that can guide you through the steps.

This knowledge can be crucial during the moments before you can get your cat to a veterinarian.

Keep a first-aid kit

Having a first aid kit specifically for your cat can help you manage minor injuries until you can see a vet.

Here are some essentials to include:

  • Gauze: For wrapping wounds and controlling bleeding.
  • Antiseptic wipes: To clean wounds and prevent infections.
  • Bandages: To secure gauze and protect injuries.

Other useful items include tweezers, scissors, a digital thermometer, and an emergency blanket. With a ready first aid kit, you can quickly address minor issues and provide immediate care in emergencies.

Stay informed

Educate yourself about common cat emergencies and how to handle them.

Learn to recognize symptoms of serious conditions, understand when to seek immediate veterinary care, and know basic first aid techniques.

There are many resources available, including books, websites, and courses on pet first aid and emergency care.

Being well-informed helps you respond effectively and ensures your cat gets the best care possible.



Being prepared and knowledgeable about common cat emergencies can make a significant difference in the outcome for your furry friend.

Always act quickly and consult a veterinarian when in doubt. Your prompt response can save your cat’s life.

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