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When a veterinary health emergency occurs, every minute matters. Unfortunately, cats cannot verbally tell their owners when they are sick. Consequently, even the most vigilant pet owners may struggle to identify which cat symptoms require a visit to the emergency veterinarian. As a pet owner, learning which cat symptoms require emergency surgery can make a difference between your cat’s life and death. Vigilance and the ability to quickly identify when something is wrong, could save your cat’s life.
Foreign bodies - Foreign bodies such as thread, string, ribbon, cord, or rubber bands are referred to as “linear” foreign bodies and are particularly common in cats. Symptoms of foreign bodies include vomiting, poor appetite, and abdominal pain. Cats may have a tense abdomen upon examination with few or no bowel movements.
The threat of linear foreign bodies can cause serious and extensive damage to the intestinal tract. The intestines can become damaged and lead to perforation in multiple places causing leakage of intestinal matter into the abdominal cavity. Emergency surgery is generally required from our Austin veterinarian to remove the object or material.
Abscesses - An abscess occurs when an area of tissue becomes infected. Abscesses in cats are usually caused by bite wounds or scratches from other animals. The infection results from bacteria carried on the teeth or claws of the attacking animal, which enters the skin through the bite or scratch. This infected area may fill with pus, creating tension under the skin and further inflammation of the surrounding tissues.
Many times owners fail to realize their cat has been injured or bitten. An abscess is extremely painful to your cat, and usually requires veterinary attention. Cat symptoms include swelling, pain, redness, fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, lameness or listlessness. If the abscess hasn't drained, your veterinarian will cut, drain & remove the necrotic tissue. This will either be done under sedation or general anaesthetic.
Urethral obstruction or "blocked tom" - The term “blocked tom” refers to the obstruction of normal urine output from the bladder through the urethra. When urine cannot be eliminated from the body, the bladder becomes painfully distended and kidney failure occurs. Urine obstruction is a life-threatening condition and can result in permanent kidney damage or death if not quickly corrected.
Some cat symptoms of urethral obstruction may be dramatic. Frequent trips to the litter box, urinary accidents, the presence of blood in the urine, and straining to urinate are early signs that the cat is affected by a urinary tract problem.
In most cases, a small catheter can be used in a technique called hydropropulsion to force the urethral plug back up into the bladder using pressurized sterile saline. The small rubber catheter will be sutured in place in the urethra and left for several days. Urine will be collected and measured to ensure proper urine output. The cat will most likely need IV Fluid Therapy to help flush out the toxins.
It is extremely important to watch for the early signs of these cat symptoms and to seek veterinary attention immediately. When in doubt about your cat’s health, contact your Austin veterinarian. An after-hours visit to the emergency vet may save your cat's life.