Case of the Month: Feline Intestinal Foreign Body


Charlie Ate What?!

When Charlie’s owners returned from a short vacation to find this very sweet and playful cat lying around the house they were immediately worried. Instead of greeting them when they came home and acting like his normal, friendly self, Charlie was vomiting, not eating, and acting very lethargic. They rushed Charlie to River Road Veterinary Clinic where Dr. Pinello suggested a radiograph.

Charlie had decided that some fishing line (with an attached hook) would make the perfect new toy! It wasn’t until he got carried away and swallowed it that it presented a HUGE problem. The hook had managed to pass down Charlie’s esophagus before becoming lodged in his stomach.  Surgery was the only option for Charlie. Luckily, Dr. Pinello was able to remove the hook and Charlie made a full recovery!

When a cat swallows something it’s not supposed to, it’s rarely a minor problem.  Cats can be very playful; it’s one of the reasons we love them as pets.  Coils of string/ribbon are the most common “foreign body” we see in cats. It is very rare for a cat to be able to pass a long coil of string/ribbon all the way through their intestines. Linear foreign bodies such as string or yarn can cause major problems because the coil in the intestines, causing bunching of the intestines, partial or complete obstruction of the digestive system, and often perforation through the intestines caused by the back and forth motion of the string.

It is important to be able to recognize signs of serious distress in your cat. Nausea, weight loss, not eating, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, and lethargy can all be signs that your cat is suffering from an intestinal foreign body. Not all of these symptoms are present in each case. If you notice any combination of these symptoms please call River Road Veterinary Clinic immediately.

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