Cats Kittens-common-issues-and-emergencies

Published on December 16th, 2014 | by Debbie Martin


Kittens: common issues and emergencies

If you are an owner of a very young cat, then you should be aware of some of the potential hazards, common issues and emergencies which might befall them and of how these hazards might be avoided. Kittens are vulnerable to much of the same dangers which affect adult cats. There are, however, some to which younger cats are particularly susceptible.


Kittens are a great deal more prone to trauma than adult cats; their bodies have not had a chance to properly form and are consequently a great deal less robust. Kittens are therefore particularly vulnerable to being dropped, struck and stood on. Owners of particularly young kittens would be advised to ensure that they do not wander into a situation which any of these things can happen!

Keep them well away from staircases and high places. As kittens get a bit older, they will naturally want to explore things by jumping and climbing on them. Ensure hazards such as precariously placed heavy objects are not present.

Unfortunately, kittens can sometimes suffer trauma, even when measures have been put into place to prevent them from doing so. Should this happen, they will need to be taken to a vet to be given the all clear.


When cats first venture outside, they place themselves in danger, as they are an unknown quantity among other roaming felines. Neighbourhoods are divided into territories – hidden to humans, but obvious to the local cats. The introduction of another cat will upset this natural order. Other cats will not react well to the intruder – often these disputes can escalate to violence.

If you notice the evidence of these conflicts on your cat, you are in good company. But bite wounds, while common, can be very nasty. They should be treated where possible with antibiotics in order to prevent the formation of abscesses. If you are particularly worried, you might consider keeping your cat indoors for a little while – though this is not a long-term solution.

Respiratory problems

Unfortunately, respiratory problems are extremely common among particularly young cats. The symptoms are varied and much the same as those which flu-blighted humans exhibit; affected cats will suffer from runny noses, sneezing and coughing.

Since cats suffering from these symptoms will be largely unable to smell, they will also be largely unwilling to eat. Affected cats will therefore likely suffer from a loss of appetite. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, it is probably time to take them to a vet. Cat-flu is simple to treat against; if left untreated, however, the consequences can be severe.

Eye problems

Conjunctivitis is somewhat related to the problems thus far mentioned. Eye damage is both a symptom of flu and can result from one cat getting into a fight with another – though there are many causes of eye problems besides these. In young cats, eye problems can become very serious very quickly. It is therefore imperative that, if your cat is having trouble seeing, you take it to a vet at the earliest possible opportunity.

Vomiting and Diarrhoea

If your cat is vomiting, it can often be alarming – particularly if you don’t know what the cause is. There are a number of things which might cause a kitten to vomit and not all of them are serious.

If your cat has only recently be rehomed, it will be more susceptible to both of these problems. This is mostly because of exposure to new forms of infection which were not present in the old home, but other factors can play a role, too – including the stress of moving home itself!

Abrupt changes in diet can also prompt digestion problems. This is understandable; after all, if a cat has only eaten one kind of food for a long period of time, it cannot be expected to suddenly switch to another. This is particularly the case in rich foods, so these should be steered clear of where at all possible. If such foods cause your cat to become sick, then consider feeding it something a little blander.

Ingestion of foreign material.

Kittens are inquisitive creatures and much of their inquiry is conducted by biting things. They will use their mouths to interact with everything; they will constantly bite and chew things to find out about them.

Obviously this sort of activity poses a distinct and obvious risk: that the cat might inadvertently swallow something, or otherwise cause damage to itself and its surroundings. Small plastic objects, like Lego bricks are of particular concern – they can cause damage to a cat’s stomach if ingested.

Also problematic are electrical cables, which cats might be tempted to chew on. This is obviously not a good idea – but the kitten doesn’t know that! Electrical cables should therefore be kept tidied safely away and kittens should be deterred from interacting with them. Cats have been known to swallow string and wool – both are which are popular playthings. Also of concern is chocolate, alcohol and drugs designed for human consumption – all of which can cause severe abdominal pain, and worse. If your suspect that your cat has swallowed something they shouldn’t have, you should contact your vet.


Anaphylaxis is a severe form of allergic reaction, brought about either an insect bite or medication.

In the former case, the consequences are sometimes severe – and can even be fatal. Any cat showing signs of inflammation around the neck and head should be considered as possibly suffering from the condition and should be taken to a vet as soon as possible.

In the latter case, allergic reactions are rarely severe. The extent of the symptoms will in most instances be nothing more troubling than an inch around the site of an injection; the cat may also be slightly tired.

There are however some instances where medication can provoke a severe allergic reaction. If your cat begins to vomit, or becomes numb shortly after receiving medication, then this is a sign of a severe allergic reaction and the cat should be brought immediately to a vet. Mercifully, such reactions are very rare – but do not ever be deterred from taking your cat to a vet!

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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