Some medical conditions come with a fairly predictable set of common problems that you should be prepared to manage. Inevitably these will also occur after normal business hours for your veterinarian, leaving you to decide if this is a medical emergency or if it’s something you can treat at home.
Learn What to Expect
Step 1 in preparing yourself for a common problem is learning which problems are actually common for the disease your cat has. This is going to take a little bit of work on your part, because you’re probably going to have to do a lot of reading to figure out what others generally experience.
Step 2 is learning how to assess whether your cat is experiencing a medical emergency, versus whether your cat can be treated at home. If your cat is experiencing a medical emergency you must get them to a qualified veterinarian ASAP.
If you think your pet isn’t experiencing an emergency, but you’re not quite sure whether they need urgent assistance or not you can try calling your vet for advice. If your regular vet’s office is closed you can call a 24 hour pet hospital (if available in your area). Pet hospitals will almost always say you need to bring the animal in though, so that may not be a very helpful choice.
If you are in the US and happen to be a Chewy customer using autoship you can also speak with a licensed veterinarian for free to get advice on whether you should take the animal in right away or whether it can wait until your regular vet is available. Chewy’s Connect With a Vet service is not available 24 hours a day.
There are some 24 hour hotlines you can call for more assistance, but nearly all of them do charge a fee for their service. Doing a web search for “veterinary hotline” should give you a lot of results for places you might contact.
Learn What to Have On-Hand
Once you know which problems your cat is likely to encounter you can properly plan your emergency kit for that problem. There are different kinds of kits to prepare.
Reusable Items to Stock
In my house I keep several pieces of important medical equipment
- Only useful if you practice what to listen for
- I use it for listening to heartbeats, breathing, and bowel sounds
- Blood pressure machine
- Great to have for regular testing if your cat has hypertension or has a disease (like kidney disease) that often includes hypertension
- One for the ears and one for the butt because you never really know which you’ll need
- Baby scale
- Great for regular monitoring, but also helpful when monitoring a cat who is suddenly ill
My Constipation Kit
Having multiple cats with kidney disease means that constipation is a constant danger in my house, so I keep the following on hand at all times:
- Miralax (available without a prescription)
- Lactulose (requires a prescription)
- Cat enemas (available without a prescription)
- Jars of pumpkin baby food
- Psyllium powder
Lactulose is something I use every day to prevent constipation in Thomas, The other items I keep on-hand just in case I need them.
My Appetite-Loss Kit
Loss of appetite is a really common occurrence with kidney disease, so I also keep these things on hand:
- CliniCare RF (liquid diet for cats with kidney disease)
- Rebound (liquid diet for any anorexic cat)
- Hill’s a/d or Royal Canin Recovery (canned food for anorexic or recovering animals)
- A variety of tasty foods to offer if the regular foods fail
- Fancy Feast is very popular with kitties
- A variety of food toppers to entice kitty to eat
- FortiFlora (aka “magic flavor dust”)
- Bonito flakes or Tiki Cat Dash
- Powdered fish toppers
- Nutritional Yeast (NOT brewer’s yeast)
- Cerenia (anti-nausea med, requires a prescription)
- Ondansetron (anti-nausea med, requires a prescription)
- Appetite stimulants (require a prescription)
- 5 ml and 10 ml oral medicine syringes for syringe feeding
- You can often get these for free from local pharmacies if you ask for them
Keep Your Kit Fresh
Now that you have items stocked up for emergencies the next thing to do is to set up a plan for maintaining freshness. If you like technology you can set automatic reminders on your calendar when an item is due to expire so that you have time to order a replacement before it’s needed.
I’m a very analog person so I like traditional “pen and paper” methods. I keep a list of my home inventory with expiration dates. If something is due to expire within 3 months I will typically order replacements and then donate the soon-to-expire items to local rescues who need them.
Replace Used Items
It should go without saying, but any time you use something from your emergency kit you’ll need to order a replacement so that you have it available for next time.