What are the Most Common Emergencies for Adult Cats?


When the topic of cat ages comes up, how many of us really know what constitutes an adult cat? Honestly, it’s not something I’ve ever thought much about. We have a cat we adopted at 6 months of age and he’s now 3-and-a-half and we consider him a kitten. Apparently, however, he is not a kitten any longer. He’s a fully grown adult cat, and he has been since he turned 1. That’s the general rule for cats and their ages. Cats 1 to 10 are considered adults, and this is when ‘adult’ emergencies might begin to plague your feline friend. With that in mind, how many of you have seen your cat acting stranger, wondered if it was all right and decided it was time to take the cat to the vet to be on the safe side? We all do it; we wonder if we should go. We have so much going on, it’s going to be an expensive, “There’s nothing wrong with this cat,” trip and a waste of a few hours. So let’s be sure he’s really sick, right? I cannot tell you how often we hear stories like this and hope that they have a good outcome. When a cat is not feeling well, it can’t convey to you that anything is wrong by saying to you what is wrong, adult or not. However, its actions and behaviors can indicate an issue, and it’s up to you to ensure that you are in tune with your cat’s behaviors so that you are aware when it becomes necessary to head to the vet. To help you out just a bit, we’ve done some research to provide you with a list of some of the most common cat emergencies plaguing adult cats.


The good news is that trauma is one of the leading emergencies in adult cats. The bad news is that trauma is usually a human’s fault. Trauma typically includes a cat being hit by a vehicle, attacked by an animal, abused or falling from something high up (like the second floor balcony, where ours likes to lie down and give me panic attacks). If you let your cat outside, accidentally leave open a door or whatnot, you run the risk of your cat being run over by a vehicle or attacked by another animal. It could be anything from a neighbor’s dog to a coyote to an alligator if you live near these Florida waterways. So while most cats aren’t getting sick and dying, they are being attacked or traumatized by many things that can easily be avoided. You can’t control cancer in a cat from developing, but you can control how often your cat hangs out in the street or sitting on the dock down by the water – and you can limit the animals you allow in your house. Trust me; I adopted a dog two days before Christmas and it attacked my cat within hours, collapsing a lung and causing his liver and kidneys to fail. It’s been a long road.

Breathing Issues and Choking

Choking is very common in cats, but most people ignore it because it tends to correct itself in a matter of just minutes. This is a serious mistake. The instance of choking in a cat could indicate any number of health issues present in your cat, and that can mean that you need to get to the vet immediately. Additionally, cats that are having a time breathing might have any number of issues going on. It could indicate anything from a blocked air passage to heart problems to serious illness or even an infection. It’s imperative that if you notice your cat having trouble breathing at all, you get him or her to the vet right away.


No one really expects a cat to cough, and seeing or hearing it happen can be jarring. A cough in a cat could indicate anything from a simple virus that will run its course in a few days to congenital heart failure. This is why a coughing cat can never be ignored. Sure, chances are good it’s just a virus the cat picked up somewhere, but congenital heart failure is likely to kill your animal in no time at all. Do you really want to take that chance? Additionally, having an older cat could indicate something more serious as many of the most serious health issues do affect cats of a certain age more so than kittens.


A cat that’s vomiting may or may not concern you. In fact, if we are being honest here, a cat that’s vomiting is probably going to annoy you more than anything else. Because no matter what you do, how much wood floor or how much tile you have, your cat is going to vomit on the one tiny rug in your house, your bed or something else difficult to clean. And it’s okay to be annoyed; we all are. But once your annoyance wears down and you’re calm again, take note how long your cat has been acting ill or vomiting. One or two instances every so often are no big deal, and sometimes when a cat has a hairball it can seem a lot like vomiting. If your cat recently inhaled a bowl of food, it could be that. Otherwise, it could be indicative of a number of health issues that need to be evaluated right away by your vet.


This might be even more annoying than a cat that’s vomiting, simply because it’s just a little bit more disgusting. If your cat has this issue and it’s not going away within a few hours or a day, it’s time to get the cat to the vet. It could indicate a number of things more serious than an upset stomach, and some of those include cancers and other serious diseases. If your cat is urinating outside the litter box and having issues with blood in the stool, as well, it could indicate anything from organ failure to imminent death without a visit to the vet for a quick diagnosis.

Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Purina

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