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Cat Emergency? We Are Here For You

If your cat has suffered a sudden trauma or is experiencing any life threatening symptoms, please call us immediately at: (312) 583-1921

In an emergency, time is of the essence, please seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. We are here from 7am-8pm, Mon - Sat. Our address is:

1556 S. Michigan Avenue, Ste.100
Chicago, IL 60605

After hours, please contact:  Premier Veterinary Group or MedVet

What To Do If Your Cat May Be Having A Veterinary Emergency

IMPORTANT! ~ Do not give any medication until a veterinarian has examined your ill pet and has made the appropriate recommendations.  Even common over-the-counter medications for humans may have unexpected effects in animals – for example, acetaminophen and ibuprofen, common pain medications for humans, can be fatal to dogs and cats. By giving medication without the advice of a veterinarian, you may delay appropriate treatment or risk injury to your pet.

In case of a cat emergency, waiting until "normal business hours" is not an option. In a time of crisis, Metropolitan Veterinary Center our hospital is staffed, Monday - Saturday from 7 am-8 pm, and ready to help!

If your cat has suffered a sudden trauma or is experiencing any life-threatening symptoms, please call us immediately at: (312) 583-1921

Our experienced veterinary team can help increase the odds of recovery for your beloved feline friend, even in the face of the most severe cat emergency care situations.

Cat Emergencies That Require Immediate Veterinary Attention

Cats can be very subtle in showing signs of illness. Therefore, it is most important that you be on the lookout for subtle changes in your cat's behavior. If your cat normally greets you and wants to eat when you get home from work, and all of the sudden it neither greets you nor wants to eat, this may be a very serious sign of an immediate need for veterinary medical help.

Although many illnesses can become serious and some may even become fatal if left untreated, not every circumstance truly warrants emergency care. We have compiled a list of situations requiring emergency cat care in order to help you decide whether or not your should take your feline friend to an emergency cat clinic:

  • Difficulty Breathing: This is may be the most serious of all non-trauma-induced injuries, because hypoxia (low oxygen levels) and the events that follow can lead to respiratory arrest and possibly death if not treated quickly. In addition, when this is occuring, your cat is suffering and panicked. Difficulty breathing is an immediate emergency. It may arise slowly or acutely. Regardless, when you notice any of these symptoms, your cat is in trouble and needs veterinary care. Symptoms include labored breathing (this can be subtle but it looks like your cat's chest is moving faster and more pronounced while breathing), making alarming noises, or puffing of the lips. If you see or suspect these symptoms, seek immediate emergency cat care.
  • Urethral Obstruction: This is a blockage in the urinary tube that leads from the bladder to the penis. When obstructed with small sand like particles, your cat cannot urinate. This is both very painful and leads to metabolic changes which will cause death quickly if the obstruction in not relieved. This primarily affects male cats, and can lead to kidney damage, bladder rupture and cardiac arrest. Symptoms include urinating outside of a litter box, straining to produce very small amounts of urine, vocalizing pain or distress, and excessive genital grooming. Female cats can have urinary problems too but generally related to infections and not blockage.
  • Hind-End Paralysis: If you find your cat unable to use its rear legs and is showing signs of stress and pain, it is an emergency. This condition is known as aortic thromboembolism, or ATE. It is a complication of heart disease that causes a blood clot to lodge in a large vessel of the hind legs. Symptoms include panting, vocalizing pain or distress, and severe physical distress resulting from an inability to move the hindquarters of the body. This requires immediate emergency cat care.
  • Not Eating/Drinking: It should be a concern if your cat does not eat at its usual time or its usual amount. Cats do not go extended periods of time without eating or drinking and doing so may be a sign of serious illness including kidney failure, diabetes complications or intestinal obstructions. If you notice your cat not eating or drinking for more than one day, seek emergency care.
  • Vomiting and/or Diarrhea: Almost all cats have soft stools occasionally, but if your cat vomits repeatedly or has violent diarrhea, seek urgent care.
  • Ingestion of Toxins: If you witness your cat ingesting toxic substances, it is essential to seek emergency cat care. Recovery rates are exponentially better when immediate emergency care is provided.
  • Seizures: Although a solitary seizure may not be life threatening, seizures often come in clusters and can become progressive. Seizures have many causes including ingestion of a toxic substance or medication. If your cat has never had a seizure and is not currently under the care of a veterinarian for a seizure disorder, we recommend seeking immediate medical attention. Seizures are generally a sign of serious illness in a cat.
  • Major Trauma: If your cat experiences major traumas, such as attack by a dog, falling from a height, or a fight with another cat, seek cat emergency care immediately. Remember, cats do not usually show immediate symptoms of injury even when they have internal trauma. Veterinarians will be able to assess and look for the not obvious signs of serious illness.

Of course we cannot explore every possible emergency scenario here, however, if you are worried about the health of your cat, and especially if you are worried that they may be experiencing a life threatening situation, please call us immediately or simply bring your cat to our emergency clinic located at:

1556 S. Michigan Avenue, Ste.100
Chicago, IL 60605

(312) 583-1921

It is always best to take a proactive approach to protecting the lives of loved ones, and our feline companions are no exception.

Simple Tips to Help Prevent Cat Emergencies:

  • Keep your pet’s vaccinations and checkups current.   Routine maintenance is the first step to prevention.
  • Tape or align electrical and phone cords to the wall.
  • Unplug any corded electronic item (e.g. laptop computers, vacuum cleaners, phone chargers, etc) after use.
  • Keep drapery cords out of reach.  Also, any kind of string/linear item such as shoelaces, tinsel can be dangerous to pets.
  • Keep all medication well-sealed and out of reach. Pocketbooks (even when closed) left on the floor, gym bags (even when zippered) or countertops are a prime target for exposure. 
  • Never give your pet over the counter medication without specific instructions from your veterinarian.
  • Remove poisonous houseplants.  The ASPCA has a wonderful database that you can search for poisonous and non-poisonous plants.  You can find it here: ASPCA plant database. Pro Tip: Create a list of the plants in your yard and home with their scientific and common names. They should be kept in a folder, so the information is available when necessary.
  • Feed your pet a high-quality diet appropriate to the animal’s species, age and needs.
  • Remove or make pesticides and rat poisons secure. Remember, pets are curious and can be determined to get into, ‘trouble’.  Do not use free-standing bars or pellets.
    • First step for safety is to look for a ‘child and dog resistant’ bait station. 
    • Second step is to keep these bait stations protected and out of pet reach.  
    • Third is to ALWAYS know the type of bait that you or an exterminator has used.  This will save time and money if an exposure happens.
  • Keep your pets from treated lawns until products have had time to dry.
  • Dispose of anti-freeze properly as animals are attracted to the sweet flavor.
  • Keep pets off roof decks and balconies.
  • Walk dogs on leashes and keep cats indoors.
  • Perform regular brushing and grooming.

Six Mistakes that Contribute to a Cat Emergency:

  1. Waiting too long to take your pet to the veterinarian after you note symptoms that signal a problem.

  2. Giving your pet over-the-counter human medication without discussing with a veterinarian, or not following instructions for pet medications exactly as prescribed.

  3. Not regularly visiting a veterinarian for routine check-ups.  A pet should be examined at least once a year, to detect possible health problems, prevent existing issues from going untreated and treat issues before they become an emergency.

  4. Not providing basic behavioral training to your pet.

  5. Not having identification on your pet.

  6. Exposing your pet to harmful situations (off leash, access to balconies, not pet-proofing your home, self-medicating).

Pro Tip: Although the internet has a lot of helpful information, there are in fact ignorant people with good intentions, as well as animal hating predators who post bogus home remedies that hurt pets.  We do not want you to chance endangering your pet’s life with some made up, Internet-discovered, erroneous home remedy.  Many of these ‘remedies’ are wrong and are not only dangerous but delay appropriate action!  It is equally important that you do not give your pet human medication or medication ‘left over’ from a previous pet’s illness without the recommendation of a veterinarian.  Lastly, it is never helpful to give medication, human or otherwise, and then ask your veterinarian if it was ‘OK’.  If you have a question or concern, it is wise seek veterinary advice.

Tips For Getting Your Cat Safely To An Emergency Clinic

It is important to understand that although you might have an incredibly special bond with your feline friend, during a time of illness or injury a cat's natural instinct may lead to aggression toward anyone attempting to handle him or her. If your cat is suffering from a cat emergency and needs to be transported for emergency care, you have a responsibility to make sure no subsequent injuries occur to any party. Follow these tips for safely transporting your cat to an emergency care clinic:

  • First, gently place a towel over your cat's head to prevent biting, and then slowly lift him or her into an open-topped carrier or box. Secure the carrier or box. 
  • Be sure to support the cat's body weight, which should also help with relaxation.
  • Take special care to support your cat's head, and avoid any twisting of the neck, especially in cases of possible spinal injury.

Once secured, immediately transport him or her to an emergency cat clinic. If possible, call ahead to alert the staff of your pending arrival so they can adequately prepare for you in the meantime.

What To Do If Your Cat Eats Something Poisonous

If you see your cat ingest a toxic substance, or even if you suspect that he or she has, it is important to seek emergency cat care immediately.

Go directly to the veterinarian. Bring the bottle or know the type of medication or poison and amount ingested. Call on your way in and tell them what the cat ingested and how long ago it was ingested and the amount. We will call or have you contact one of the poison control numbers below. 

Cat Poison Phone Numbers

If you are concerned about something your pet ingested, we recommend calling

National Poison Control Centers: There are charges for these calls and therefore you should ask your veterinarian for guidance prior to contacting these services.  Some toxicities require consultation with these services:

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center:  (888) 426-1435
    • In order to provide this 24 hour critical service, please be advised that there is an incident fee, payable by credit card. This fee covers the initial consultation as well as all follow-up calls associated with the management of the case.
  • Pet Poison Helpline:  (800) 213-6680
    • In order to provide this 24 hour critical service, please be advised that there is an incident fee, payable by credit card. This fee covers the initial consultation as well as all follow-up calls associated with the management of the case.

How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver for Cats

  • Perform abdominal thrusts by lifting the pet with the pet’s back/spine against your chest/stomach, head up and legs hanging downwards.
  • Place both of your hands around their waist and create a fist, placing it centrally, in the hollow space just under the last rib.
  • If the cat is struggling, use one hand to hold them by their scruff and the other hand make a fist placing behind the last rib. 
  • Press the fist inward and upward simultaneously, quickly and firmly.
  • Release and repeat 5 times.
  • If you are able, sweep/check the mouth for the foreign abject. 
  • If this is unsuccessful, suspend the cat or small dog by the hips with their head hanging down.
  • Check the mouth again. 
  • If still unsuccessful, give 5 sharp blows with the palm of your hand between the shoulder blades.  
  • Sweep the mouth again. 
  • If the Heimlich maneuver doesn’t work, utensils such as cooking tongs can be used to remove the object when it can be seen.
  • If the animal becomes unconscious, give 5 rescue breaths, followed by 5 abdominal thrusts, checking the mouth after each sequence. 
  • Seek veterinary attention.

How To Perform CPR On Your Cat

CPR is extremely important for any human being to know how to administer. By nature, emergency situations are never planned or convenient. Time is of the essence and a few simple techniques can mean the difference between life and death. The first thing to understand is that, like humans, a beating heart and working lungs are the two most critical body functions. So, if your cat cannot breathe, or if he or she does not have a heartbeat, then emergency CPR is in order.

If a cat emergency like this arises, take the following steps to perform CPR on your beloved feline friend:

  1. First check to see if he or she is breathing.

  2. If not, with the patient lying on their side, apply external compressions directly over the heart. Squeeze the chest using one or both hands around the chest. Depress the rib cage by ½-1 inch or by 25-35% circumferentially. Do this 100 to 120 times per minute. Focus the compressions to a single spot.

  3. Extend the head and neck and pull the tongue forward. Look in the mouth and remove any saliva or vomitus. If it is too dark to see into the mouth, sweep your finger deep into the mouth and even into the throat to remove any vomitus or foreign body. Be aware of a hard, smooth, bone-like structure deep in the throat. This is likely to be the hyoid apparatus (Adam's apple). Serious injury could result if you pull on the hyoid apparatus.

  4. Cover and seal their entire mouth and nose with your mouth. You may need to hold the corners of the mouth tightly closed to prevent air from escaping while you force in the air. You should see their chest rise. Also, the smaller the dog, and always for cats, use more gentle breaths. Take your mouth away when the chest has fully expended. The lungs will deflate on their own. Air should be forced into the animal's lungs until you see the chest expand. Forceful breaths should take no longer than 1.5 seconds per breath. Give 3 to 5 Full Breaths

  5. After several breaths are given, stop for a few seconds to recheck for breathing and heart function. If the pet is still not breathing, continue rescue breathing 20 times per minute. Push down on the stomach area every few seconds to help expel the air that may have blown into the stomach. If the stomach is allowed to distend with air, the pressure will make the rescue breathing efforts less effective. Try to coordinate breaths with chest compressions for 2-person CPCR. If Breathing is Shallow or Non-existent and the animal is still unconscious, continue rescue breathing 10 to 15 times per minute and transport the animal to the nearest veterinary facility.

  6. Remember that because each moment without oxygen results in an exponentially grim recovery prognosis, knowing how to perform CPR on your cat can greatly increase the chances for not only a better recovery, but also for the quality of life that will follow.

Finding The Nearest Emergency Cat Clinic

Proudly serving the Chicago metropolitan area since 2012, Metropolitan Veterinary Center is open for any emergency cat care situation that arises Monday - Saturday from 7 am-8 pm .

After hours, please contact:  Premier Veterinary Group or MedVet

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