In a critical situation, you don’t want to be coercing your cat into a carrier for a trip to your veterinarian, or to our emergency clinic. However, some situations require urgent care, and your feline friend must be transported to a veterinary facility for immediate attention. To help you keep your cool during an emergency, we’ve outlined a few situations that need prompt kitty care, plus helpful tips to teach your cat to love their carrier.
Common feline emergencies
Since cats are incredible at hiding their weaknesses, they make determining whether they are ill or injured difficult. If you notice any of the following issues in your cat, and your family veterinarian is closed, it’s time to head to our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center:
- Straining to urinate, or blood in the urine
- Vomiting, without improvement in 24 hours
- Eye injuries
- Excessive nasal or eye discharge
- Difficulty breathing
The above signs are seen with some of the most common emergencies that cats experience, which include:
- Urinary obstruction — Male—and rarely, female—cats can develop urinary crystals or stones that block the urethra, causing a life-threatening urinary obstruction. If you notice your cat struggling to urinate, urinating small amounts, or blood in their urine, they need immediate care.
- Toxicity — Applying a canine flea preventive to cats is one of the most common toxicities, causing seizures and other neurological issues. Depending on the toxin, you may notice a variety of illness signs in your cat, all requiring prompt treatment for a good prognosis. For lists of common pet toxins, check out this source from the ASPCA.
- Foreign object ingestion — Cats enjoy playing with string, thread, and other ropy objects, and may occasionally ingest a foreign object—including a needle attached to thread. Cats with a foreign body obstruction frequently vomit, have abdominal pain and diarrhea, and appear lethargic.
- Upper respiratory infection — Upper respiratory infections occur frequently in cats, particularly those who were strays, or came from a crowded shelter situation. Eye and nasal discharge can become serious enough to cause dehydration and anorexia, which can be life-threatening if the infection is not treated promptly. Some eye infections can become so severe that corneal ulcers develop.
When uncertain whether your feline friend’s condition requires urgent care, call our competent team, and we can triage your pet’s illness over the phone.
How to carrier-train your cat
If you’ve ever struggled to load up your kitty into their carrier for a car ride, you’re not alone. While cats enjoy lurking in cardboard boxes and the like, it must be their idea. So, take that concept and apply it to your cat’s carrier, and loading up your feline friend for a veterinary visit can be a cinch. Whether your cat needs routine veterinary care, or has fallen ill or become injured, and requires emergency care, carrier training is essential for a smooth departure. Follow these steps to teach your cat their carrier is as much fun as an Amazon Prime box:
- Step 1: Leave the carrier out all the time — Bringing the carrier out of the closet once per year for an annual veterinary visit is a recipe for failure. Most cats are homebodies, and the sight of the carrier that only comes out before a trip can cause anxiety and stress. Instead, leave the carrier out in your main living area, to acclimate your cat, and reduce the stress associated with an object they know only as a disturbance to their daily routine.
- Step 2: Make the carrier a cozy space — Make your cat’s carrier welcoming and comfortable with a soft bed, a catnip mouse, and a favorite toy.
- Step 3: Feed your cat high-value treats in the carrier — Does your cat go wild for whipped cream, or crazy for cheese? Save these high-value treats for carrier-training. Place a dollop of a tasty snack inside the carrier, slowly moving the treats further back, to encourage your cat to fully enter the carrier. By starting with treats placed at the front of the carrier, and moving them back, the promise of a delicious snack will be the only prompt needed to teach your cat to step into the carrier.
- Step 4: Toss treats in the carrier regularly — To reinforce the positive association your cat is forming with the carrier, regularly toss treats inside for your pet to find. Your cat will go into the carrier searching for hidden treasures, which will reinforce the carrier as a source of all things wonderful.
- Step 5: Shut the carrier door — Shutting the carrier door is a big step that should only be undertaken once your cat is comfortably eating and distracted. Keep the carrier door shut while your cat eats their treat or canned food, and then open the door, and praise your kitty. Build up to longer periods with a shut door by sticking small treats through the door, to further reward your pet.
By taking the time to teach your feline friend the carrier can equal good things, you won’t lose precious minutes—or hours—coaxing your reluctant cat out from under the bed during an emergency. If you see any sign that your four-legged friend may have a critical condition, contact your family veterinarian, or our emergency team for after-hours care.