Cat Emergencies

Emergency Situations

In an emergency situation it is important to try to remain calm. Always phone us prior to setting off so that we will be expecting you and prepared. It is also best to check which surgery premises would be the best equipped to deal with a given emergency. When calling the vet please have a pen and paper ready to write down any instructions or directions. If the emergency occurs outside of normal opening hours there is always a Vet on the end of a telephone to help give basic advice prior to attending one of our surgeries if necessary.  Maps with directions to our surgery premises are available on this website.


What to do in an emergency…

We have listed below some of the most common emergencies that occur in cats along with some general advice on how to deal with them. However, it is always best to seek veterinary advice if you are concerned about your cat.


High Temperature: 

Cats sometimes develop a very high temperature, often in response to an infection.

  • Affected cats may be dull or sleepy, and reluctant to eat or drink.
  • Cats can have a fever without necessarily being hot to touch.


Blockage of the Urinary Tract: 

If your cat starts straining frequently to urinate in his litter tray (or anywhere else!) then he may be suffering from cystitis (inflammation and pain in the bladder) or bladder stones. This is an emergency situation, particularly if your cat is unable to produce any urine during these attempts. Small stones or plugs can form in the urethra that can block the flow of urine and prevent the bladder from emptying. This becomes very painful and is life-threatening. Please contact your vet immediately if these signs occur.


Breathing Difficulties: 

Please contact your vet as soon as possible if you notice:

  • Any changes in breathing patterns or persistent breathlessness.
  • Open-mouthed panting lasting more than a few minutes.


Road Traffic Accident and other Traumatic Injuries: 

If you think your cat has been involved in a road traffic accident, please take him to the surgery as soon as possible:

  • Internal injuries and bleeding can occur without showing any obvious outward signs initially so therefore it is important that a vet sees him as soon as possible.
  • If you suspect your cat has a broken leg or head injury you should carefully slide him onto a towel or blanket. Place him in a box for transportation to the surgery. Since cats are expert escapologists please remember to use a secure box!


Infected Wounds and Bite Abscesses:

These often appear as a swelling around the face or head. They may burst producing a dirty brown discharge or bloody fluid. You should assist drainage of these wounds by regularly cleaning the area with warm slightly salted water and cotton wool. Cats with infected wounds will frequently require antibiotics and you should seek veterinary advice.


Aortic Thrombo-Embolism: 

This is a very serious condition in which a blood clot blocks a major blood vessel supplying the back legs. Signs include:

  • Sudden loss of the ability to use one or both back legs.
  • Crying out and appearing to be in pain.

This condition can be easily confused with a road accident. Please contact your vet immediately and prepare to take your cat to the vets.



  • Paracetamol and ibuprofen are poisonous to cats and should never be given. Aspirin should only be administered on instruction by a vet.
  • Some plants and flowers, and all parts of the lily plant are highly poisonous to cats. If you think your cat may have ingested these please contact your vet immediately.