Emergencies: knowing what to do 

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The following information will hopefully help you to avoid the common emergencies involving kittens and cats and some advice to help you cope should one arise.

Kittens are small, fast, curious and playful. A combination which regularly gets them into trouble!

Dangers at home

Always make sure you know where your kitten is before starting the washing machine or tumble dryer.

Cats climb into tumble dryers for what looks like a warm bed. It sounds impossible that you could start a tumble dryer without realising your cat is in there but over the years we have seen several such cases.

The resulting injuries are fractures from the motion and heatstroke. If you did find yourself in this situation you should cool the cat immediately by soaking with cold water then bring to the surgery as quickly as possible.

Other dangers around the home that you should be aware of include electric cables which your kitten may chew, filled baths-never leave one unattended, paper shredders-never use when your pet is nearby and always switch off when not in use and fires or cookers which should be surrounded by a guard. A flickering candle is always a temptation and regularly results in singed whiskers. Never leave a burning candle unattended as a startled cat could easily knock it over and cause a fire.

You should protect your kitten from these dangers just as you would a child.


Some dangers around the home remain a great threat even to the most sensible adult cat.

These include poisonous houseplants such as Geraniums, Mother-in-Laws Tongue, Poinsettia and all lilies. A list of plants poisonous to cats can be found at www.fabcats.org/owners/poisons/plants.html.  Some cut flowers-Lilies in particular are poisonous.

Other poisonous substances include pesticides, weed killers and anti-freeze which has a taste which appeals to cats. Keep these locked away at all times.

The other big danger in your garden is slug pellets. Every year we see a cat die from metaldehyde poisoning from eating either pellets or from eating slugs which have eaten them. Despite what it states on the packaging all slug pellets are poisonous to cats. The only safe products are those which form a barrier to deter slugs from crossing it.

If you really want to keep slugs off your plants make barriers with broken eggshell, grit, coffee granules or copper tape. Beer traps are safe or use biological controls involving parasites which kill the slugs, both suitable for organic gardening.

If you do suspect your cat has been poisoned take them to the vet as quickly as possible, don’t wait for symptoms to appear.

Another poisoning we see regularly is turpentine and it usually occurs when an owner tries to clean paint off their cat. It is much easier to deal with the paint than with the turpentine poisoning so wrap the cat in a towel to stop them licking the paint and go straight to the surgery.

Insect bites 

If your cat is stung by a bee or wasp pull out the sting using tweezers and bring your cat to the surgery.

We can give an anti-inflammatory for the pain and treat any infection or allergic reaction.

Stings to the mouth can be more serious as it can cause the mouth or throat to swell rapidly, your cat will need seen immediately.


If your cat has bitten through an electric cable the mouth and/or tongue may be burned. Firstly, turn off the power and remove the plug from the socket or you too will receive an electric shock.

Electrical burns can result in cardiac arrest so it is important to go to the vet immediately.


If your cat suffers a trauma be it a fall, road accident or dog attack your priority will be to prevent further trauma and get them quickly to the vets.

If possible remove the cat carefully from further danger, remember they may have internal injuries you cannot see.

Make a stretcher from a coat or blanket and gently slide the cat onto it supporting the whole body throughout and taking care not to twist the body.

If there is bleeding apply a cold compress and if possible bandage the area to stop the bleeding. If blood seeps through the bandage add more over the top without removing your original bandage,

Do not apply tight bandages to the head or body of your cat as you may cause further injury.

If applying a bandage to the limbs start at the paw and work up the leg. You shouldn’t leave a tight bandage on for very long but we will remove it and control haemorrhage when you get to the surgery.

Prevention is always better than cure, be aware of dangers in your cat’s environment and do what you can to avoid accidents but please remember sometimes an accident is just that - an unforseen and unplanned event or circumstance, it is how you cope with it that could make a difference. 


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