Nine Signs You Need to Take Your Cat to the Vet


"My cat is having X, Y, and Z symptoms, but I can't decide if I should take him to the vet." Most experienced cat caretakers have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of variations on this question. Here are nine indications of a medical emergency. If your kitten has one or more of these symptoms, he needs veterinary attention right away.

  1. Abdominal pain. Your cat is pawing at his stomach, he's crouched instead of sitting in a relaxed manner, or he refuses to let his stomach be touched. He could be suffering from a urinary tract infection, organ disease, a blockage of his digestive tract, or internal bleeding.

  2. Bleeding. If your kitten is bleeding from his eyes or ears, or if the blood is spurting or pulsing, bandage it and call your vet while you're packing your cat in the car.

  3. Blindness that comes on suddenly. If your cat is bumping into things or is afraid to walk because she can't see, he could be suffering from a detached retina or glaucoma.

  4. Difficulty breathing. If your cat is wheezing or experiencing labored breathing, she could be having an asthma attack, heart problems, or anaphylactic shock (life-threatening allergic reaction). Get to the vet right away.

  5. Difficulty urinating. If your cat is running back and forth to the litterbox and producing little or no urine, if he's crying in pain while trying to urinate, or if he's frantically licking his genitals after an attempt at urinating, call the vet now. Especially in male cats, these can be signs of a potentially fatal urinary blockage.

  6. Lameness or inability to put weight on limbs. Cats instinctively hide their pain, so if your kitten is hurting enough to visibly favor a leg, that means it's serious. He could have a fracture, infection, deep penetrating wound, or heart problems.

  7. Seizures. If your cat is having convulsions, spasms, twitching, or acting disoriented, he may be having a seizure or he may have been poisoned.

  8. Staggering. This could be a sign of a middle-ear infection, neurological disorder, or poisoning.

  9. Vomiting more than once within an hour, especially if the vomit is bloody. Your cat could have swallowed a foreign object or she could be suffering from liver or kidney disease. Intestinal disturbances and poisoning also cause frequent vomiting.

If you think about it, this is really simple common sense. It all boils down to this question: If you were experiencing these symptoms, would you go to the emergency room or call the doctor? If so, seek the same level of treatment for your cat.

Photo: Cavin

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