Caturday blogging: Cat emergencies, household hazards, and a happy ending


No matter how much you love your cats, sometimes, you won’t understand them. Keep an eye on your kitties to catch cat emergencies quickly.

Any type of pet illness, injury, or emergency can be nerve-wracking. But there’s something very particular about cat emergencies that make them especially difficult: Cats don’t like to tell you what’s wrong. No matter how well you think you can understand and read your cat, a painful or confusing situation can cause a change in your furry friend that may be difficult to notice. I learned that the hard way last weekend — but don’t worry, this story has a happy ending.

Lucca is my gray tabby who just turned three alongside her sister, Robo. They’re both incredible sweethearts, though Lucca rules my house with all the sass and spice you’d expect of a queen cat. She bosses everyone around from her sister to the humans to our two dogs. She can be aloof one moment and snuggly the next, depending on her whim. And she has a huge crush on my husband. Plus, she reluctantly tolerates me because I feed her and scratch her behind the ears.

Now, here’s the story:

Photo credit: Rebekah Valentine. Lucca as a kitten

It was a confluence of unpredictable, difficult events. First, my dopey dog, Inara, got ahold of a golf ball from my husband’s golf bag and chewed it up, exposing the rubber bands inside. We cleaned them up diligently, but one must have escaped our notice somehow because it got caught on Lucca in the middle of the night and sent her charging through the house. We removed it, threw it out and, thinking the ordeal over, went back to sleep.

The next morning, Robo was yowling at me. She does this sometimes when she’s hungry, or needs her litter box cleaned, or needs attention, or just feels like yowling. I filled up her bowl, but in my sleepiness I didn’t notice that Lucca hadn’t come running at the sound of me scooping food. Before leaving for brunch, we spotted Lucca hanging out under the bed. She does this sometimes. Why would we be concerned? It wasn’t until we returned over an hour later and she hadn’t moved that we knew something was up.

Lucca had somehow found another rubber band in the middle of the night and gotten it snapped around her left front leg, just below the joint. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that her leg was quite obviously too large. We bundled her off to the emergency vet, asking ourselves over and over, “How did we not notice sooner?”

Photo Credit: Rebekah Valentine

The answer is always: because she didn’t want us too. Most cats don’t want to broadcast that they are hurt or sick or scared because it turns the predator into prey. But the fact is that cats do get hurt and sick and scared, and pet owners have to constantly be diligent and aware of their furry friends in order to catch problems like Lucca’s in time.

So after what happened last weekend, I’m making a few promises to myself and to all four of my animals so I can better keep track of their health:

  1. I will not become a paranoid pet owner. It is incredibly tempting, after one of my best pals gets hurt, to constantly hover over and check on all of them to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I will not do it. 99% of the time, a cat under the bed is just a cat hanging out under a bed. They do this.
  2. will diligently check whenever an animal does something out of its routine. Most animals will follow habits and routines you set for them. Lucca not coming to breakfast should have been an immediate red flag. Her not coming out from under the bed when we chattered at her was another. Your pet’s routines may be different than mine! Learn them, and calmly check in on them if they deviate. Chances are, it will be nothing, but it’s better to check.
  3. Many, many things can become household hazards. I will not become a paranoid pet owner (see #1) and scour my house obsessively, but I will be more aware of small items that can be choked on or wrapped around things. When they present themselves, vacuums are my friend.
  4. I will, on occasion, check my animals over from nose to tail, just to make sure there’s nothing they’re concealing or not complaining loudly about. We found a bleeding cut on our dog in a well-hidden spot behind her leg like this yesterday, likely from some bush out in the yard. We washed it off and it healed right up, but I would not have known about it otherwise had I not checked.
  5. I will snug my pets extra tight after this scare.

Photo Credit: Rebekah Valentine

Lucca’s just fine now — they cut the rubber band off and circulation came right back. We were worried she might lose her leg there for awhile, but she’s keeping it with no permanent damage and is now just as sassy as ever … and maybe a bit more cuddly than before! We also get to laugh (only because she’s okay) at the hilarious bald spot on her leg where they had to shave it.

Next: Caturday Blogging: 8 Tips and Tricks for Grooming Your Cat

If you own a cat, you will likely have multiple cat emergencies during its life. They might end up being minor, fixable things … or not. The best thing you can do is to cultivate a strong bond with your cat so that you can tell quickly when something isn’t right — no matter how well they try to hide it — and take care of it before the problem becomes worse. Lucca’s still pretty young. My hope is that we’ll grow even closer over the years, to the point where, if something like this happens again, she might even come tell me.