What’s the Scariest Emergency Situation That’s Ever Happened with Your Cat?

| January 18, 2014 | 45 Comments
Tucker on Jan 30 - day after his torsion - not 24 hours later

Tucker on Jan 30 – day after his torsion – not 24 hours later

The other day I went for a run/walk and was thinking about my parents’ dog, Tucker.  He passed away in March 2013 – he had degenerative disc disease and shortly after he was diagnosed with it, he went through stomach torsion.

Torsion, common in large barrelled mammals like German Shepherds and horses, is when the stomach twists so much that it interrupts the blood supply to that organ.

It requires emergency surgery and is a life or death situation, usually.

Luckily, we caught it in time and we underwent emergency surgery.  I was so nervous.  But it wasn’t the same nervous as waiting for Rags to go through his cancer surgeries.  I had had time to mentally prepare for those.  But not for Tuck’s emergency torsion.

So, I thought it would be interesting to know what sort of emergency situations Floppycats’ readers had been in with their kitties.  Please report in the comments below!

I am not thinking of this as something negative – I think it might help us all to know the possibilities of what could happen.  Not to instill fear in us, but rather to educate ourselves, so that we might be somewhat prepared if faced with a similar situation.  There were many people I told about Tuck’s torsion and they had no idea German Shepherds could have that happen.  Knowledge is power.  Bring on the knowledge.

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About the Author ()

Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Dementia Boy says:

    Dearest Jenny: I’m going to pass on this. Between years of CPS/DCFS work, shelter volunteerism, and living with the cats no one else wanted, not to mention the not-too-distant William/Iz experience, I just can’t make this trip down memory lane.

  2. Lynn says:

    I think the scariest thing about cats is that they are so good about hiding illnesses until they are REALLY sick. My sister and I took a weekend trip down to Santa Barbara a few years ago and I had a good friend/neighbor come by to feed and look in on my two. She found Chloe, my senior citizen, in my closet and knew enough to realize that was not her usual behavior. She called me and I asked her to take Chloe to the emergency vet clinic and my sister and I got in the car to make the 4 hour trip home! The verdict was that there must have been some rough play while I was gone because Chloe had injuries similar to when a cat gets hit by a car and was having trouble breathing. With oxygen and some rest, she recovered completely.
    Best advice- have someone who knows your pets, or at least knows typical behavior, take care of them when you’re gone. They can recognize when something isn’t right and act appropriately, before it’s too late!
    Great topic, Jenny!

  3. I had a Great Dane for 13 1/2 years, and I always gave her small meals because of Bloat AKA Torsion.
    Here is my cautionary tale about my Male Ragdoll, Baxter. Neither of my cats are ‘pukers’, but I know plenty that are. When Baxter vomited one Thursday, I cleaned it up, made sure he ate later, and went on with the day. I have the good fortune to be with my pets 24/7, so I am very attuned to everything they do. The following day, he threw up again, and this time he didn’t eat, but was otherwise acting fine. It’s Friday night. He didn’t eat, didn’t poop. By Saturday Morning he still hadn’t eaten or pooped. Only option was the Emergency 24 hour Vet clinic we are thankful to have.
    They felt him all over, took his temp, and told me the symptoms could be from an obstruction, so they X-rayed him. Lots of gas, but no objects. He wasn’t an inappropriate eater, and I told her that. She said leave him here for 48 hrs. and we’ll see if he passes something. NO WAY JOSE. I told her I could watch him constantly, and didn’t want him in a cage with no one by his side. I would bring him back if nothing changed. 8 long hours passed, he wasn’t eating, drinking, or pooping, so I brought him back. I knew something was wrong. They said we’ll watch him, but we could do an exploratory surgery too. Part of his intestine was showing lots of gas, I didn’t want o mess around. So, I said open him up. You don’t play around with intestinal obstruction possibilities.
    After the operation, the surgeon came out and said, in 20 years, I’ve only seen this once, and it was too late, the cat died. Baxter had tendril like bands of tissue growing out the side of his abdominal wall that had wrapped around his intestines like Ivy, and had strangled them. Once he cut the bands away, his intestines pinked back up, and they didn’t need to cut any out. He told me 5 or 6 more hours and his intestines would have died, and then he would have too. He said he cut all the bands away, and feels as freakish as it was, they probably would not grow back. I took him home the following day..handed them $3200., and THANK GOD,4 years has passed without incident. PLEASE don’t brush off vomiting so quickly, especially if your cat is not a “puker”. I am so lucky to have my boy♥♥

    • Jenny says:

      Oh, is that was torsion is called in the dog world? My family and the docs we went to always just called it torsion.

      Oh my god about Baxter – that is crazy. I have never heard of tendril like bands of tissue. So glad you took action!

      Jenny

  4. Sorry about Tucker. 🙁

    My worst pet emergency was when Tadpole got Feline Leukemia and got VERY, VERY sick, he was throwing up a lot and was shaking and he got really cold, he died overnight:-(

  5. BSmith says:

    When my ragdoll boy ate half of a Stargazer Lily petal. I did not know at the time how poisonous lilies were. After 48 hours in the emergency hospital getting detoxed, he was ok, but what a scary weekend. No flowers enter my house now without having their toxicity checked.
    So many flowers and plants are toxic to cats!

  6. patricia says:

    this is hard and sad. mine happened in 2010 when a cat that i had couldn’t breathe one day. on friday he was fine and playing, on monday he couldn’t breathe. i was completely freaking out and called the human society (where i take all my cats for care), crying and telling them what was going on and they told me they couldn’t see him until wednesday!! i was so panicked i couldn’t even think. i knew in my soul that this was very urgent. i called the closest vet i could find and they said bring him in right now. they did xrays and found that he had some kind of cancer in his lungs and that the options were chemo therapy that would cost thousands of dollars and had a very low rate of success and a high rate of pain and distress for the cat or to put him down. he was 15 years old and the year before i had lost my other cat who was 16 to a stroke. this cat was so healthy and was just playing 3 days ago, how could this be happening?!! the vet told me that this cancer was fairly common in older cats and that unless i had the cat xrayed every time i took him to the vet that it wouldn’t be seen. i was devastated and heart broken and i had him put down. to me, quality of life is much more important that quantity.

    my biggest message here is to KNOW where you are going to go in case of an emergency and then have a back up plan. i have that in place now. when you are terrified and panicked, you can’t think straight and not knowing what to do or where to go immediately is a horrible feeling when you are trying to save your cats life. have the numbers where you can find them, put them in your phone, put the numbers on your fridge, have them in an address book next to your computer. you hope and pray that nothing like this ever happens but sometimes it does. being prepared saves time that could be crucial.

  7. Yes I had a shocker with my last cat, Daisy. She hand not eaten in a couple days and I got very worried. She was about 13 I think. Took her to the vet andy they ran some tests and she was in liver failure. It was shocking as I had no idea. They were also surprised. They said that I needed to go to the Emergency Clinic as they were closing, of course it was 5pm on a Friday. I took her and they said she need to stay for several days. She had to be injected with fluids. I made the decision right then and there to put her down as there was no good prognosis and I did not want her to suffer. It was the most horrible horrible horrible experience as I was not prepared to deal with this in this way. This was quite a few years ago and I was not as educated on nutrition as I am now. She rarely had canned food. I am convinced her diet contributed to her demise. The moral of the story is feed your cats canned meat and only kibble sparingly!

  8. Lynn says:

    My second bit of advice- as someone who lives in earthquake country, I have an emergency box prepared with several cans of food, bottled water and bowls near the carriers. I change it out every New Years. That way, I can grab the cats, the carriers and the box and get out quickly. Everything else can be replaced, but not my kitties!

    • Jenny says:

      thanks – lynn. not something i think about – but definitely important! maybe we could do a blog post about that? do you have photos of your kits?

      • Lynn says:

        Jenny- I can easily take some pictures of the kits and send them to you.
        Great idea about a blog post on this subject. With our earthquakes and grass fires in California, we’re reminded to have this kind of stuff ready. When we had the big earthquake in 1989, I had my car packed, the cat carriers ready, cat food at hand, the car outside the garage pointed out, and was ready to head to my parent’s house in Arkansas if there were anymore big aftershocks! I’ve lived here all my life, but that one “shook” me up!

    • Sherry says:

      I live in tornado country and will do this for my cats. Nothing more frightening than hearing the sirens go off and your cats won’t follow you to (or stay in) the basement!!

    • ChristyB says:

      @Lynn, I live in southern California and have disaster kits ready as well. For the cat I have a carrier for the cat (one that I occasionally bring out and spray with cat nip tea and put treats in – he LOVES getting in it!, evacuation stairs (all but one of my exits is on the 2nd floor as is all of my living space – that’s for all of us of course!), I have cans of Evangers Game Meats (closest canned alternative to a prey diet I think), sheets to wrap up in (protect from a fire or lower from the balcony in case the steps aren’t viable for some reason) and a fire extinguisher.

      Lots of other items as well but these would relate to cat the most.

  9. George says:

    Last Saturday night I had to take Toby into the animal hospital. He was breathing very rapidly and heavily, he wasn’t eating and was very lethargic. After a series of tests and one of the worst nights of my life, he was treated for pancreatitis

  10. patricia says:

    that’s a great idea lynn. in case of fire too. and get those stickers to put on your windows for the firefighters that there are pets inside. i think we don’t want to think about bad things that could happen but they do and we need to be prepared for anything. our animals are our family.

  11. Coinneach says:

    One night in 2010, my big fat tortie girl suddenly stopped walking, looked puzzled, and fell over. This was on a Saturday night and the nearest e-vet was 30 minutes away. We were out the door within minutes of her collapse. Turned out she’d thrown a saddle thrombus. They did everything they could to save her, but…

  12. Great info to be learned here! I appreciate all the stories being shared here! Very informative!

    I don’t have any kitty emergencies to share other than illnesses which required trips to the vet, etc… with my other non-Ragdoll kitties I’ve had previously (over many, many, many years).

    Pink Sugar’s recent urinary tract infection was scary enough for us! But, I’ve already discussed that and resolved that issue in another discussion thread.

    Big hugs!

    Patti & Pink Sugar 🙂 <3

  13. Cindy says:

    I have had several scary situations with my pets. My first experience was with my first cat. She was having problems with fleas and with the vets’ help, we were trying different things. This was back before they had the topical drops to the neck that they have today. The vet gave us some flea mouse. Shortly after applying it and after our vet had closed (of course), my cat was walking around foaming at the mouth and her eyes were as big as saucers! I freaked out, called our vet, was given an emergency vet to go to and instructions from the emergency vet to rinse as much of the mouse off of her as we could before we left. My poor husband was ripped to shreds by her! They finally got her stabilized, but wanted to keep her overnight. We didn’t get home until around 3 a.m. She was allergic to the flea mouse.

    • Jenny says:

      yuck, that is scary. smart of the emergency vet to tell you to rinse off as much as you could before you came in – just imagine it seeping into her skin on the way there! sorry your hubby got scratched up.

  14. Teresa says:

    Boy, this is a really sad subject but so glad you brought it up Jenny as it could help save someone else’s kitties in the future.

    These are a few that come to mind:

    1. Callie was a rescue six-toed calico we rescued when my daughter was about 8. While I was at work, my husband let my daughter play with her new sewing kit she got that had one of those big oversized needles used to stitch the smaller yarn through. As soon as I got home, saw them out playing in the show and there was the sewing kit still out. Callie was sitting there with string hanging out of her mouth and my heart sunk. Grabbed her up and plowed through the snow to the vet. The X-ray showed that she had swallowed the yarn and it was vertically lodged in her esophagus. He came out and said that he was going to have to do surgery to get it out, but just as he was going to start, he thought that he might try to use a really long clamp to see if he could grab it and he did!!!!! YEAHHHHHH!!!!! He kept the X-ray to show to everyone and it was one of his greatest saves and still talks about it to this day. God bless him for not putting her through that surgery. You don’t want to know what I said about not putting that needle up either. I was livid and ALL of the strings/needles and other things like that were put in glass jars with tight lids after that

    2. The second incident was in 2009, when I just walked past my sweet rescue baby, Tony, a orange and white tabby, and noticed he was sitting there and didn’t look right – like sort of dazed. I picked him up and began to do a physical assessment on him and immediately noticed that in addition to the fact that he was dazed, his gums were white!!!! (Always check your kitty’s oral cavity when they seem to be sick – it should look nice and pink). I panicked because this came on very suddenly and raced to the car with him in my arms and got to my vet ASAP. Told her I was coming while I was driving and she was waiting for me at the door. We took him back and basically started resuscitation measures, epi, fluids, etc. Despite all efforts, he died right there on the table in front of me. I couldn’t believe it. It was so devastating. He had not been sick ever and was about 10 years old at the time. Autopsy revealed he had only one kidney and had a renal embolism (a blockage in the artery that supplies blood to the kidney).

    3. Lastly, my sweet Illaria got deathly ill after eating FF Kitten food. She had vomiting and diarrhea about 1/2 h after eating it and had to take her in for meds. She recovered from that but recently has had a bout of orangey pasty diarrhea that was found to be coccidia and was treated with Albon for 10 days. It recurred again and she is on the second course of the medication but has not sprung back as well. Am taking her in this week when my vet is available and am extremely worried about her that is could be something else. You know how us moms are? She just isn’t her spunky little self but is eating
    The diarrhea has subsided but you all know what I mean when I say, she isn’t herself. Her appetite is great and she gets 2.5 oz of water with both meals, no more orange diarrhea, but she sits there and doesn’t run and jump playing like Grace and Mari do. If I get out the wand, she will paw at it but not run around. Oh, please God, don’t let it be anything terrible I pray.

  15. Teresa, I am sending prayers for Illaria right now for her to get all better very soon and for your heartache, worry and stress to subside! Big hugs to you, hon. <3

    My condolences on the loss of your rescue kitty, Tony. <3

    • Teresa says:

      Thank you so much Patti, that means so much to me. She is just so precious and innocent. Talked via email to my vet/friend today and she said she should stay longer on the Albon and will just give me a few more and then she also suggested that it could be her food that she is not tolerating it for some reason. She said it is not uncommon for cats to become intolerant to their food for no particular reason. So, I’m on the Natural cat website going down the list to see what else I can get for her. Used to feed them Life’s Abundance, but that is $$$$. May be going to order her a few cans to see if it makes any improvements.
      Thanks again for the prayers and know He is listening.

  16. Chrissy says:

    My kids brought home glow necklaces and bracelets. Of course small children leave stuff laying around constantly and cats are curious. My cat played with a glow necklace for hours on end – we thought it was cute at the time. He ended up puncturing it and the liquid inside got in his mouth. Scariest situation ever!! He started foaming at the mouth and tried desperately to get it out of his mouth. He ran around like he was on FIRE rubbing on everything and knocking everything over. I finally caught him and plopped in the the sink and spayed water in his mouth for about 15 – 20 min. His breathing was labored and his eyes were sooo big. I rushed him to the vet and he had to stay overnight. He came home with two prescriptions and the vet said no more glow sticks – ever. Glowsticks aren’t allowed in my house anymore 🙁

  17. Nancy, H. says:

    thank you all for your input.a painful subject for both my husband & myself.
    we had to put our ” Andy” down just a year ago. a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of him.he was the sweetest little raggie. everybody loved him. he was suffering from kidney failure with a very poor prognosis. the vet told us that maybe we could keep him alive for another month or so with IV fluids.we were only kidding ourselves. his quality of life would be awful. we said our goodbyes right then & there.
    we learned a lot from this experience and we keep emergency numbers close at hand not only for ourselves but also for our great friends that look after our Sophie & Jedda when we are away.

  18. Mary Carter says:

    I found my ragdoll/tabby mix in my backyard 4 years ago. He was about a month old with 2 tabby brothers – never did see anything of his mother.
    Anyhow I put the three babies in a cage in my home since I had two older cats. The third morning when I let the kittens out for supervised play, the little white one was “dead” in the cat bed. I picked him up, shook him, turned him upside down and shook him, breathed into his nose gently. Finally I tried to hear a heartbeat or see respirations – nothing. So I put him in a shoebox out on my back porch because I just couldn’t bury him before breakfast. It was cold – Halloween time. I went home at noon from work to bury him, opened the shoebox to find him sitting in a corner looking like “what did I do that was so bad?” Amazing. I took him to work with me that afternoon and fed and cuddled him. Lazarus (appropriate, huh?) now is 4 years old and weighs 21 pounds and is just a bundle of love. A vet friend said they sometimes suffer from syncope which is really just fainting. Don’t know but I’m blessed to have him in my life.

  19. Robin says:

    Some of your stories have been very sad–my heart goes out to those who have lost a kitty. My story has a happy ending, but I was terrified as it happened. I gave my Ragdoll a treat that I’d been given at her vet’s as a sample (it’s supposed to be good for the teeth. ) Well, my cat with a hearty appetite decided to wolf the thing down, and she choked on it. I watched in complete horror as she started choking and making awful gasping sounds. After what felt like hours, but was probably only seconds, she stopped choking. But it was an awful experience. I am now very wary of treats!

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