Facts, stats and advice

5 common cat injuries and treatments

Get the facts and stats associated with the most common cat accidents and injuries, and discover how we can help support your vet bills.

It can be tempting to think cats can take care of themselves, but the reality is often very different. Accidents can range from slight scrapes to those requiring serious surgery, and if your cover isn’t up to scratch, then your cat could miss out on the best care.

Unlike some other insurers, our insurance policies cover treatments for common injuries and accidents, including MRIs and CTs as standard. We’ll even cover alternative therapies if your vet recommends them, with no hidden fees or limits for extra diagnostics.

For a better understanding of cat injuries and their symptoms, let’s explore the most common accidents and injuries, how to spot them, and when you should get help from a vet.

1. Swallowing string and other objects

cats swallowing foreign objects infographic

Most cats love playing with string and wool, but some will try to eat it too. In addition, some cats develop a dangerous taste for small household objects, including baby dummies or pacifiers – it seems they like the chewable texture. As these objects make their way through the body, they can cause blockages and complications. This is a particular problem with string, as it can become tangled in the digestive tract.

Throughout 2019 we paid out £816,000 in claims to remove foreign objects and cover injuries related to them, including treatment costs of anaesthesia, X-rays and cat bowel surgery or other related surgeries. These are major operations and may require hospitalisation and fluid replacement. So keep a close eye on your kitten or cat as they play, and if you notice any odd behaviour – particularly vomiting – contact your vet as soon as you can.

2. Ingesting poisonous foods and fluids

Cat consuming poisons 799 claims from pet owners

Generally, cats are pretty discerning about what they put in their mouths, unlike dogs who will commonly eat whatever falls on the floor. Indeed, dog owners are much more likely to claim for poison-related incidents, as our list of most common dog injuries shows.

While some houseplants are harmful to cats, the type of poisoning that cats see regularly is ethanol glycol, which is found in antifreeze. The chemical tastes sweet to cats so they can often be found under cars lapping it up.

This is very bad news because it can cause severe kidney failure, so look out for signs of vomiting, or a prolonged change in behaviour, indicating discomfort or pain. Your vet will be able to work out what poison they have ingested and the best course of treatment.

3. Injuries from road traffic accidents

Claims for traffic accident injuries: £2.7 million

It’s a sad fact that not all cats are street savvy and their freedom to roam can sometimes come at a cost. Many road traffic accidents can prove instantly fatal, but for the lucky ones, we paid out £2.7 million worth of claims to help support with vet fees, last year alone.

The primary injuries from these encounters are usually fractures and skin degloving. These injuries involve both the musculoskeletal system (bones and muscle) and the skin, which can be peeled back or ‘degloved’. The results can be shocking to see as an owner, and require urgent vet treatment.

Treatment can become very expensive, especially in emergency situations. Veterinary care would likely include pain relief medications, intensive care, X-rays, ultrasound, and surgical repair.

4. Wounding their paws, tails and legs 

Claims for wounds: £1.4 million

Cats can be very territorial, most commonly using paws and claws to settle disputes with their adversaries. If you suspect your cat’s been fighting with others, look out for swollen or bleeding paws. As one cat swipes at their opponent’s face, the paw can be caught in the other’s teeth. 

We saw £1.4 million claims for paw, leg and tail injuries in 2019, and although paws were top of the list for fighting, tail injuries factor in too – which are unfortunately more likely the result of someone pulling on the cat’s tail. If it’s a leg injury you’re concerned about, you should look out for signs of your cat limping or meowing when touched in the area.

5. Fighting with other cats 

Claims for fighting other cats: £1 million

As well as injuries to paws and claws, cat fights can result in bites. This is particularly problematic, since their sharp points can ‘inject’ infection into the skin. Left untreated, bites and scratches can turn into abscesses, which are most common on areas of looser skin like the flank, undercarriage or scruff. These fluid-filled swellings are extremely painful and the sooner they’re checked and drained by a vet, the better. Depending on the severity, this process may require anaesthesia.

Even if your cat only sustains light injuries from a fight, your vet can help with pain relief and antibiotics to prevent infection.

Being prepared for the unexpected

Accidents happen, as the figures show, so it’s best to be prepared. Our policies gives you the freedom to go ahead with the diagnostic tests and treatments recommended by your vet, safe in the knowledge that you can claim up to the vet-fee limit you have set.

In contrast to some cheaper policies, which may seem more affordable to begin with, but actually cost more in the long run, we provide the same cover year after year, so you won’t be caught out by a sudden accident. Want the best care for your pet? Get a quote today.

Frequently asked questions

*All figures from Petplan data, 2019.

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