Educational Articles

Cats + Emergency Situations

  • Arsenic poisoning is the accidental ingestion, skin contact, or inhalation of products containing a toxic dose of arsenic. The most common cause of arsenic poisoning in cats is ingestion of ant baits that contain arsenic. The clinical signs of sudden arsenic poison can vary depending on the dose. Supportive therapy is a crucial part of treating arsenic poisoning. Aggressive fluid therapy and rehydration is necessary and helps the body to remove arsenic from the body.

  • Acetaminophen is a medication that is used to treat fever and/or pain in humans. Cats have a genetic deficiency in a metabolic pathway in the liver that makes cats vulnerable to acetaminophen toxicity.

  • Acute renal failure (ARF) or acute kidney failure refers to the sudden failure of the kidneys to perform normal filtration duties. ARF leads to accumulation of toxins and other metabolic wastes in the bloodstream, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and disturbances in the acid-base balance of the blood. The initial prognosis is guarded for all cases of ARF. If the cause is an infection, there is a better prognosis than if the cause is a toxic substance.

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening complication of critical illness. These underlying critical illnesses may include sepsis, pancreatitis, pneumonia (either due to an infection or the inhalation of foreign materials), trauma, near-drowning, and other severe illnesses. In ARDS, massive inflammation and the release of various inflammatory chemicals leads to the leaking of capillaries within the lungs. Signs of ARDS include increased respiratory rate, blue discoloration to skin and mucous membranes due to poor oxygen delivery, and occasionally coughing. Treatment of ARDS is primarily focused on supportive care and addressing the underlying critical illness.

  • In cats, the pupil is an elliptically-shaped opening in the middle of the iris that allows light to pass through the eye to the retina. The pupil constricts or dilates (enlarges) according to the amount of light that enters the eyes, with both pupils normally dilating in dim light and constricting in bright light.

  • An aortic thromboembolism results when a blood clot is dislodged and travels through the aorta, becoming lodged in a distant location. This causes severely reduced blood flow to the tissues receiving blood from that particular part of the aorta, leading to decreased oxygen in the tissues. Sudden paralysis and pain, usually in the rear legs, are the most common clinical signs of aortic thromboembolism.

  • Aspirin is a commonly used over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and is used to treat fever, pain, inflammation (swelling), and clotting disorders in humans. Aspirin poisoning occurs when a cat ingests a toxic dose of aspirin, either through misuse or accidentally. Clinical signs depend on how much aspirin was eaten. Treatment for aspirin poisoning depends on how quickly the cat is seen by the veterinarian.

  • Atrial fibrillation describes very rapid contractions, or 'twitching', of the heart muscle, confined to the atria, or the top chambers. Most of the time, atrial fibrillation in cats occur secondary to heart disease.

  • Anemia is not a specific disease but rather it is a symptom of some other disease process or condition. Anemia is a medical term referring to a reduced number of circulating red blood cells (RBC's), hemoglobin (Hb), or both. Hemoglobin delivers oxygen to the cells and tissues of the body, and a patient who is anemic will suffer from symptoms related to a lack of oxygen.

  • Bladder stones (uroliths or cystic calculi) are rock-like formations of minerals that develop in the urinary bladder. There may be a large, single stone or a collection of stones that range in size from sand-like grains to gravel.