There’s something incredibly special about welcoming a new kitten into your home. In return for their endless frisky antics and sweet, rumbling purrs, you promise to cherish and care for your new best friend, so you can enjoy many years of happy memories together. But, we all know how curious kittens are, and how talented they are at finding mischief. You may provide the most comprehensive wellness care, but kittens are skilled at getting themselves into situations you can’t prevent. And, you can’t keep your new pet inside a bubble, so watch them closely, and contact your family veterinarian or our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center at the first sign of trouble. Here are six common issues kittens experience that require urgent care. 

#1: Trauma

One of the most adorable aspects of kittens is their lack of fear. While this leads to death-defying stunts, such as leaping from your arms to the couch, or clinging to the curtains, these situations can quickly end badly. Occasionally a kitten may misjudge a jump, or rely too much on their claw strength, only to fall and be injured. Kittens also get hurt playing with small children, or in accidents like being shut in a door, or stepped on. In some cases, the current household cat or dog will attack the new kitten. No matter the cause behind your kitten’s trauma, emergency care is needed to assess the damage, ease your pet’s pain, and quickly put them on the road to recovery. 

#2: Ingestion of a toxic substance

As your kitten explores their new home, they may discover items that escaped your kitten-proofing. Items that should be kept well out of reach, to prevent accidental toxin exposure, include the following:

  • Lilies
  • Rodenticides
  • Cleaning products
  • Medications
  • Fertilizer
  • Insecticides
  • Essential oils

If you don’t know whether the substance or item your kitten discovered is toxic, contact the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center or our team for help.

#3: Ingestion of a foreign object

While kittens aren’t as bad as puppies about putting everything in their mouths, they can still ingest foreign objects that require surgical removal. Foreign objects commonly removed from cats include string, thread, sewing needles, and other stringy items. We agree that nothing is more adorable than a kitten batting at a ball of yarn, but accidental ingestion can occur in the blink of an eye. Instead, use kitten-friendly toys to encourage your pet to pounce and play.

#4: Vomiting or diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea can develop from a variety of causes, including intestinal parasites, diet change, stress, infectious diseases, toxins, and more. While some gastrointestinal upsets are self-limiting, and quickly resolve on their own, others can escalate in severity, and require veterinary intervention before dehydration sets in. If your kitten’s vomiting and diarrhea continues or worsens, which can occur in a matter of hours, depending on the underlying cause, prompt action is often necessary to help your tiny creature battle illness. 

#5: Allergic reactions

For your kitten’s first vaccination appointment, consider asking for an early time slot with your family veterinarian. While we are always here to care for your pet after normal business hours, if they have a vaccine reaction, it’s best to return to your family veterinarian for care. If your kitten’s appointment is late in the day, contact us at the first sign of a reaction, so we can prepare for immediate treatment. Once your family veterinarian opens, inform them of your kitten’s reaction so it will be noted in your pet’s file. 

Kittens can experience allergic reactions to a wide range of triggers, including insect bites and stings, cleaning products, and flea and tick preventives. Watch your kitten carefully for a reaction (e.g., swelling, hives, vomiting, or difficulty breathing) the first time you administer a new prevention product, to ensure their safety.   

#6: Respiratory issues

Many kittens suffer from upper respiratory infections, which can spread easily in shelter situations, or the stray cat population. These infections routinely cause sneezing, and eye and nasal discharge. Some upper respiratory infections can become so severe, a kitten’s eyes will be matted shut, and they will be unable to breathe through their nose, making eating and drinking difficult. Upper respiratory infections can be caused by bacterial or viral pathogens, and may develop secondary causes. A sniffle or two usually isn’t cause for concern, requiring only supportive nursing care, but frequent sneezing or discharge from the eyes or nose can indicate an underlying respiratory infection that needs treatment. Serious cases may require hospitalization with antibiotics, fluid therapy, and feeding tube placement.

If your new kitten gets into mischief and needs emergency care, but your family veterinarian is unavailable, contact us for help.