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Recognizing an Emergency in Cats: Who and When to Call

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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If you're a typical pet owner, you have probably faced this quandary: Your beloved companion may be ill, but you don't know whether you're overreacting or whether you should bring her in to a veterinarian. And she can't tell you if something is bothering her, or how serious it is.

The simplest way to determine if it is an emergency is if you are concerned, contact a veterinarian. The veterinary assistants and veterinarian can help you determine if an emergency visit is necessary or prudent.

Performing a brief at-home physical exam may also help you. If you see any abnormalities, consult your veterinarian. For mild symptoms, scheduling an examination may be enough. But you should be aware of the signs that require immediate care. These include:

  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Non-responsive or comatose
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Extreme pain
  • Continued vomiting, especially with blood
  • If your pet was struck by a car or some other vehicle
  • Ingesting poisonous material or improper medication
  • Bloody stools
  • Collapse

    You should have your veterinarian's phone number and address handy in case of an emergency, along with his/her pager. You should also have the phone number, address and directions to the nearest veterinary emergency clinic.

    If you cannot contact your veterinarian or he cannot help you, consult a local veterinary emergency clinic. If all else fails, look in your telephone book and try to find a veterinarian that is available to help.

    I know the Animal Needs Medical Help But Who Should I Call?

  • If you notice an injured animal, try to contact your veterinarian for instruction and assistance.

  • If your veterinarian is not available, try to contact a local veterinary emergency center or 24-hour veterinary hospital.

  • Some local humane societies or animal shelters have ambulatory services if you are unable to transport the animal for care.

  • Animal control officers have equipment and supplies to help transport an injured animal.

  • Police officers can sometimes be helpful if the injured animal is posing a risk to people (such as affecting traffic flow).

  • If there is a tag on the injured animal, contact the owner to inform them of what has occurred and where the animal is being taken.

  • For wild animals, contact an area wildlife rescue or rehabilitation center or conservation department.

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