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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22584
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Should I ring my local vet out of hours as an emergency? Basically

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Should I ring my local vet out of hours as an emergency? Basically my cat last night around 2am woke me up panting, she was then sick and proceeded to strain over and over. Some liquid came out but it was blood stained. As soon after she stopped straining she would continue panting. This went on for about an hour and half. At which point I panicked and called the local vet to which she advised me it could be cystitus or constipation and to get her some sardines which I did. She has settled down and hasn't attempted up strain or pant since 4am and it's 9am now. So my question is do I still ring the owner of the clinic like the lady on the phone suggested or do I wait til Monday? I'm just conscious of the fact that it may not be an emergency and whilst I am on the phone to the clinic I could be preventing someone getting through to speak to him. Thanks in advanced.
Ps she seems rarely alert her eyes are a little wired, meowing and purring normal and she has drank a little bit of water and had some puréed food. She is a female short haired nearly 17 year old cat who has had several steroid injections over the past year to stop her biting her fur. She was also hospitalised in Feb due to taking a thyroid med which sent her liver into failure and lastly she is 3 legged due to a dog attacking her last Aug. Hope that helps.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.

If you would still like assistance, can you tell me:

Has Spud passed any feces or urine since last night?

Any further vomiting or retching?

Is she eating normally for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
No to all three questions. She's eating a bit but not her usual amount.

Thank you Liz,

With her response to the sardines and lack of increased urinary frequency, cystitis is going to be less likely here. Instead, we'd be more concerned about potential constipation +/- GI upset. In this case, if she is eating a bit, then you can choose to continue supportive care of the weekend with a view to having her seen on Monday. That said, if her distress was severe last night and we have not had feces from her yet despite the sardines, I would advise with her being an older lass that erring on the side of caution is never a bad idea with idea with cats (since they do strive to hide when they are unwell for as long as possible).

In this case, you do have 2 options. First, you can check with the local vet to see if they do have time to see her today (that way you wouldn't be cutting off any emergencies but since we vets do sometimes have calm on-call weekends you could sneak her in sooner if this was the case for their weekend). Otherwise, we'd want to consider continuing the supportive care to get those feces moving. If you choose the latter, we do have a range of options to try and get things moving for Spud. First, if you have not already, you can try giving her cat hairball treatment (ie Catalax, Laxatone, etc). This will lubricate the GI and just help any mild constipation to get moving. In the same vein as the sardines, you can also give her
fish oil (omega 3+ 6). This usually works best for upper GI lubrication but has the added benefit of soothing joint inflammation (since arthritis actually can often play a role in constipation in elderly cats). Typically, we will give cats 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA per 10 lbs of cat body weight.

Alternatively, if we need to really get things moving, then you can consider administering a a small volume of Miralax (1 tsp per 24 hours), lactulose (More Info/Dose) or chemist grade mineral oil/liquid paraffin orally. Ideally, we'd want to offer this in food or if given via oral syringe then take care to avoid aspiration, since that would cause problems we'd best avoid) as a GI lubricant.

As well, just to note in case this is a common issue for Spud, we can also consider
increasing her dietary fiber (to push feces through her GI more effectively. If she is eating normally, you can mix in some canned pumpkin or a 1/4 teaspoon of unflavored Metamucil/Benefiber. Just like people, these can maintain fecal output regularity. I would offer these with wet food to ease her eating of it, while making sure we are getting water into her (as canned food is 35% water).

Overall, based off her response to the sardines, constipation would be our top suspect here. And while I am glad that she did settle last night, I am still concerned about the lack of feces. Therefore, in this case with her being an old dear, I would advise that it is worth ringing the out of hours vet (I would want you to if this were my weekend on call). If she is calm at this stage, then its not an emergency but if they can fit her in today then we can just confirm our suspicions, make sure there is nothing else amiss, and just make sure we are addressing this promptly for her. Of course, if they are overwhelmed with emergencies, then she may have to wait until Monday. But it is worth a wee ring here to just see if they can fit her in, so that we can help get her more comfortable as soon as possible.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thats really helpful thank-you.
You are very welcome, Liz.

All the best for wee Spud,
Dr. B.