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What do we consider an Emergency?

If you are a cat foster parent, it is crucial that you are familiar with what we consider an emergency situation. Being aware of what to do, who to contact, and what we may require of you during such an event is of utmost importance. This knowledge can help you to take quick and appropriate action, ensuring the safety and well-being of the cats under your care.

Severe Bleeding

Bleeding that continues for more than five minutes, whether from a wound, the mouth, in vomit or diarrhea, must be checked by a veterinarian! Fur can always hide a larger problem as well. Small spots of bright red blood in stool can be normal from intestinal parasites and should be noted to us in an email.

Styptic Powder is recommended to be kept on hand for small cuts, scrapes, or bleeding nails. It should not be used in deep wounds, body cavities, or burns.

Severe Lethargy/Respiratory Distress

Lethargy doesn't usually indicate an emergency unless other symptoms are present. It is an emergency if a cat is extremely lethargic or if their lethargy occurs in combination with other serious symptoms like difficulty breathing or severe vomiting or diarrhea.

Blue and/or pale gums and tongue, stretched necks, heavy abdominal breathing, gasping, or continuous coughing can indicate a serious problem!

The Eyes!

Generally, some discharge from the eyes is not an emergency and if a cats eye is irritated it will paw at it to try and make it feel better. It is important to correct that before it turns into an emergency! A cone will prevent them from causing damage to their eyeball while it heals.

A true eye emergency is blood from the eyes, an item lodged or pierced into the eye or eyeball, one or both pupils suddenly a different shape/size and or not responding to light, or one or both eyes suddenly a drastically different color.

No Pee?

Commonly seen in male cats, a blockage in the penis or urethra (the tube from the bladder to the genitals) can cause acute kidney failure. If a cat is frequently going to the litter box and not producing urine or only producing small drops, this is an emergency. This condition can result in extreme suffering and death if not addressed right away.


Common causes of poisoning in cats include eating mice that have been killed by poison, eating slug or snail bait, eating toxic plants (click for master list) (Note, Tulips, Lilies, Crocus, Daffodils, and many more are on there!), or drinking ethylene glycol (antifreeze). The typical symptoms of poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, skin irritation from caustic irritants, collapse, or seizures. If a product label is available, see if there are first aid instructions. If corrosive or toxic material is on the skin, rinse for 15 minutes. Bring a sample of the suspected poison, with its container, to the veterinary hospital.


If poisoning has occurred, contact (888) 426-4435 which is ASPCA's Poison Control, and start heading to an ER, they can advise if monitoring at home or emergency care is necessary for the quickest direction. Worst-case scenario you can turn around, head home, and monitor them at home.


A seizure is a series of violent, uncontrolled spasms. Most seizures last for less than two minutes. If a seizure lasts more than five minutes or if several seizures occur in rapid succession, a cat requires immediate veterinary treatment to prevent permanent damage. During a seizure, do not put your hand in its mouth. The cat will not swallow its tongue. Protect a cat from injuring itself and prevent it from falling. Once a cat has recovered from the seizure, provide reassurance by talking calmly. A cat will often be disoriented for a short time after a seizure. A cat will require veterinary attention to determine the cause of the seizures, but if the seizure was not prolonged, an appointment can be booked at your earliest convenience.

Feline Friend

What is a Non-Emergency?

Learn more about Non-Emergency situations and how to best handle them! Generally, a lot of things may be able to wait until the next morning or even until we can get the kitty seen by a Primary Veterinarian rather than an ER Veterinarian. However, it is good to check in with our team at Hidden Gem so we are aware of what is happening! 

Non Emergencies


Coughing is less common in cats than in humans and dogs, but it can indicate a range of issues, from minor to serious. The most common causes of coughing in cats include hairballs, throat irritation, and allergies. Please contact us if the cough persists for more than one or two days, The cough is severe, The cough is productive, The cough recurs consistently, and the cat appears sick or is losing weight. 


Diarrhea is generally not an emergency and can wait for a scheduled appointment. Vomiting a couple of times without other severe symptoms may be manageable until a scheduled Veterinary appointment. Please check with us!

Ear Infections

Scratching of the ear and shaking the head can be signs of an ear infection and is not an emergency, these symptoms may also be from ear mites which while gross, is not an emergency.

Eye Infections

Cats have a third eyelid, or nictitating membrane, in the inner corner of the eye, which is covered by conjunctiva (have you heard of the common eye issue; Conjunctivitis? This is where the word comes from!). In healthy cats, the conjunctiva of the eyelids is not readily visible and has a pale pink color. When conjunctivitis occurs, the conjunctival membranes become red and swollen. Conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes. If you see excessive tearing or watering from one or both eyes, abnormal discharge (cloudy, yellow, or greenish), or reddened conjunctival membranes, the cat may have conjunctivitis. The cat may also squint or keep their eyes closed because of either discomfort or reluctance to be in bright light (photophobia). In severe cases, the conjunctival tissue or the third eyelid may be so swollen that it may partially or fully cover the eye. If the cat exhibits any of these signs, please let us know right away as they could damage their eye permanently by rubbing it!


Cats can start limping for many reasons whether they are limping from their front leg or limping from their back leg, such as a break, sprain, getting something stuck in their paw, or an ingrown claw.

It may be less simple and be that their body is aching because of an internal infection they are fighting, just like when humans get the flu and their whole body hurts.

You might not be able to recognize the source of your cat's limp with your eye, please get a video of them as it can help us and the veterinarian determine what may be happening, as they may not be limping at the vet clinic! Cats will often mask pain as a way of protecting themselves when afraid.

Minor Cuts/Scrapes

Minor cuts and scrapes on cats can often heal on their own with little to no treatment.

Not Eating/Inappetance

 If your foster cat has skipped a meal or does not want a treat without any other clinical signs, you can wait and see if their appetite returns. If more than a day goes by and your foster is not eating, reach out to us so we may get them seen.

New Lumps or Bumps

If any new lumps appear on a cat, we will need to take them to a vet to get checked. There's no way of knowing if a lump is a cancer just by looking at it so a vet may need to run tests. This is not an emergency.


An occasional sneeze in a cat is normal and no real cause for alarm. Just as in humans, sneezing in cats is an explosive release of air through the nose and mouth - often the body’s response to irritants in the nasal passages. Sometimes, excitement or movement can bring on sneezing in cats.

However, if your cat’s sneezing won’t go away, or if other symptoms have cropped up along with sneezing, you will need to let us know to see if they need any treatment as it could be an indicator of something a little more serious like an Upper Respiratory System or URI.


The most common way cats can get worms is by being exposed to infected feces or parasite eggs. For example, a cat may walk through an infected area, lick the particles off their fur during grooming, and ingest it. Roundworms can also be transmitted to kittens through their mother's milk. Fleas can carry tapeworm eggs, which can hatch into adult tapeworms in a cat's intestines if the cat ingests the flea. Cats often groom themselves and may ingest fleas before owners notice evidence of fleas. Neither is an emergency unless there are other severe symptoms present, causing a parasite overload.


Get in Touch

If you have a Non-Emergency please email:

If you have an Emergency please call:


Samuel Executive Director

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