Let’s face it, cats love to explore! But sometimes curiosity can … well perhaps not quite kill, but definitely cause unwanted injuries. Yet most common cat injuries are easily avoidable.
Vet and animal welfare ethicist Dr Rosemary Elliott outlines some of the most commonly seen injuries in cats and how to prevent them in the first place.
1. Swallowing foreign objects
Just like babies, cats explore the world with their mouths. No small items are off limits.
Among the common dangers are simple household bits and bobs, such as needles and thread, string, rubber bands, dental floss, coins and cooked bones.
The safest option is to try and keep these sorts of things out of harms way. If swallowed, they can cause choking, poisoning, or bowel obstructions – all of which are potentially life-threatening.
“Some signs that might indicate that your cat may have swallowed a foreign body include lethargy, vomiting, refusing food, choking, or difficulty breathing,” Dr Elliott told the RSPCA.
“You may even notice something stuck in your cat’s mouth or under their tongue. In all cases, seek immediate veterinary assistance.”
While we often associate injuries as cuts and broken bones, poisoning is among the most common cat injuries seen by vets. And depending on the severity and offending toxin, internal injuries can be severe.
Cats can be in trouble if they ingest items such as cleaning products, human medicines, antifreeze, beauty products, pesticides, dog flea treatments and certain plants. Rat poison and snail bait can also be problemlematic.
Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, difficulty breathing, increased drinking, bleeding or bruising or loss of appetite.
Again, prevention is the best remedy, keeping toxic items locked in a cat-safe cupboard.
If you suspect your cat might be poisoned, seek your vet’s advice immediately.
3. Car accidents
If your cat free-ranges during the day, they are liable to be hit by a car, even in rural areas. In fact, car-related traumas are among the most common cat injuries seen by vets around the country.
Again, Dr Elliott says again prevention is the best medicine. However, if your cat is hit by a car, they need vet examination regardless.
“You must always seek immediate veterinary treatment, because there are often internal injuries, even in cases where the cat appears uninjured,” she says.
Cats can fall from balconies or window ledges, which can cause injuries – not all of which are visible.
Dr Elliott recommends attempting to cat-proof these areas if this is where your cat spends time.
“A common accident for cats is to fall from balconies or open windows, referred to as ‘high-rise syndrome’,” she says.
“This can lead to severe injuries such as fractures, ligament injuries and injuries to internal organs such as the bladder and lungs.”
Like dogs, cats are highly vulnerable to tick bites, which can cause paralysis if the tick involved is a paralysis tick.
Dr Elliott says tick paralysis can be fatal, but is largely preventable by using a quality tick control product, as advised by your veterinarian.
Importantly, NEVER use dog tick control products for your puss, as these can be poisonous for cats. Always use products that are specifically designed for cats, and stick to the prescribed dosage.