Loading... Please wait...


11 Common Medical Emergencies That Every Cat Owner Should Know

Posted by

Medical emergencies occur all the time, but sometimes cat owner can be hesitant and unaware of how grave the situation is. Every cat owner should know how to detect a medical emergency and when to seek immediate vet attention.

Here are 11 of the most common emergencies that always warrant an immediate trip to your vet.

1. Difficulty in Breathing

Breathlessness is a severe life-threatening medical emergency where your cat may experience difficulties in breathing. Symptoms of dyspnea include breathing with the mouth open, coughing, wheezing, irregular respiratory noises, etc. If untreated, breathlessness will eventually lead to death.

2. Seizures

Not all seizure incidents require emergency medical treatment. Often, they're caused by changes in your cat's brain activity, such as during excitement, feeding, or as your cat is falling asleep or waking up. 

However, in case of status epilepticus — seizures that last longer than 5-10 minutes, seek emergency treatment immediately. Several illnesses, including brain tumors, infections, viruses, low blood sugar, and parasites, can cause cat seizures.

3. Severe Pain

Depending on their pain threshold, you should notice when your cat is in distress. Symptoms of pain and distress include vocalizing, panting, hiding, and increased sensitivity when you touch a painful area. 

Pain can occur suddenly or increase over time, mainly due to illness or injury. Severe pain tends to be more intense and can stop your cat from carrying out normal daily activities. That said, any pain-related issue in cats warrants an immediate veterinary assessment.

4. Sudden Paralysis

Sudden paralysis is an emergency medical condition, as many of its causes are serious. It's characterized by sudden pain and inability to move the limbs. The most common cause of rear leg paralysis in cats is arterial thromboembolism attributed to blood clots in your cat's back legs.

5. Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite for food or water poses a significant challenge for cat owners, especially when there's plenty of food available to them. 

Diseases such as kidney failure, advanced diabetes, intestinal obstruction can stop food intake and cause other major health problems. 

Whatever the case, rejecting nutrition is a serious issue that requires instant medical attention.

6. Poison or Toxin Ingestion

It's vital that if you suspect that your cat has ingested toxins or poisons, that you call Animal Poison Control immediately and visit your veterinarian. 

Prompt action can determine whether your feline friend survives or succumbs.

7. Lethargy

Cats are known for their liveliness, attention-seeking, and curious nature. So, when you see your cat being lazy, distant, moving weirdly, not responding to stimuli, or hiding from you, something is wrong.

8. Abnormal Urination

If your cat is unable to or experiences difficulties when urinating, they could be suffering from urinary obstruction. This is a severe cat emergency that, if left untreated, is life-threatening. Affected cats often stain and urinate outside the litter box, blood in the urine, and lick their genital areas.

9. Prolonged Vomiting/ Diarrhea

Another cat emergency that requires immediate veterinary treatment is recurrent diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. If such persists for several days can be life-threatening or be symptomatic of an underlying health condition.

10. Heat Stroke

Heatstroke is an extreme medical emergency. If not treated immediately, it can lead to permanent damage to vital organs or even death. Even if you attend to your cat and they seem to be recovering, they should still always be checked by a vet.

11. Trauma

Cats are sometimes involved in accidents, attacks, or fights with other cats or animals, causing them trauma. Traumatic injuries from open wounds and abscesses to hemorrhages can be life-threatening. 

Trauma in cats can either be external or internal, so even cats who appear unharmed may be silently suffering. Visit your vet promptly if you suspect your cat was involved in any traumatic incident.


Knowing how to act in common cat emergencies can be a skill that saves your cat's life. While this list is by no means exhaustive, these are arguably the most common medical emergencies every cat parent should be familiar with.

Recent Updates

Sign up to our newsletter