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Cats + Emergency Situations

  • Cats are curious by nature. They love to investigate new sights, smells, and tastes. Unfortunately, this curiosity can lead them into trouble. Cats are notorious for ingesting thread, wool, paper, rubber bands, plant materials, and small toys. Not all foreign objects pass through the digestive tract without complication.

  • Meningitis refers to inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Causes include bacterial infection, viral infection, fungal infection, protozoal infection, aberrant parasite migration, or immune-mediated disease. A CSF tap is the most accurate way to diagnose meningitis, though CT and MRI may also be beneficial. Treatment and prognosis vary, depending upon the underlying cause.

  • Metaldehyde toxicity occurs when a dog (or, less commonly, a cat) eats slug bait that contains metaldehyde. The signs of metaldehyde toxicity include vomiting, anxiety, ataxia (due to muscle incoordination), stiffness, muscle tremors, elevated heart rate and respiratory rate, increased salivation, and increased sensitivity to touch. These signs often progress to continuous muscle tremors and seizures. Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and history. There is no antidote to metaldehyde; treatment is centered upon decontamination and supportive care. Prognosis is good, with aggressive treatment.

  • Mothballs are solid pesticides that slowly release a vapor to kill and repel moths, their larvae, and other insects from stored clothing and fabric. Mothballs are sometimes also used to repel snakes, mice, and other animals, although this use is not recommended and can be harmful to pets, children, and the environment.

  • Mushroom toxicity can run the gamut from irritating illness to severe toxicity to death. The species of mushroom and amount ingested determine the severity of the toxicity. Since mushrooms are difficult to identify, it is best to discourage your pet from eating any mushrooms growing in the wild. In the event of mushroom ingestion, prompt treatment is critical to successful treatment. Pet owners need to be alert to the possibility of mushroom toxicity and work to eliminate their pet’s access to mushrooms.

  • House paint, art paint, varnishes and other decorative or protective solvents come in many varieties… and most are dangerous to dogs and cats. Water-based paints, the most common, include latex, tempera, and poster paints.

  • Penetrating wounds such as sticks, arrows, or gunshots can be life-threatening though the outer appearance of a wound may not seem as severe. Take immediate steps to calm your pet, stabilize any foreign body that is present, and get your pet to your veterinarian. Surgery may be necessary after your pet is stabilized.

  • Pericardial effusion refers to the abnormal accumulation of fluid in the sac surrounding the heart. Pericardial effusion can have a number of underlying causes, including inflammation, infection, cancer, and hereditary defects. Mild cases of pericardial effusion may be asymptomatic, but more significant fluid accumulations can interfere with the heart’s function and lead to severe effects such as sudden death. Treatment and prognosis is dependent upon the underlying cause of the condition.

  • Pleural effusion refers to the abnormal accumulation of fluid within the chest cavity. In pleural effusion, the fluid is not found within the lungs, but instead within the pleural sac. Pleural effusion can have a number of different causes, including diseases of the heart, lungs, or other systemic diseases. Cats with pleural effusion often have rapid, shallow breathing and pet owners may notice increased respiratory effort. Cats may develop open-mouthed breathing in an effort to increase air flow. Some affected cats may also cough. Pleural effusion is typically diagnosed with radiographs. Determining the underlying cause typically requires thoracocentesis.

  • Pulmonary thromboembolism describes a condition when a blood clot lodges in one of the pulmonary arteries, blocking blood flow into the portion of the lung served by that artery. The signs of pulmonary thromboembolism include very sudden difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, decreased appetite, fainting, coughing, spitting up blood, weakness, exercise intolerance, and the inability to get comfortable. There are many important considerations and potential causes of pulmonary thromboembolism in cats. Many cats with thromboembolism are first treated as inpatients until the oxygen levels in their blood returns to normal. Once the cat returns home, it is important to restrict activity. There are some medications available for treating this disorder in cats. The prognosis for cats with pulmonary thromboembolism is generally guarded to poor, and it depends upon resolution of the underlying cause.