Did Your Cat Eat Something Weird?
The dangers of foreign body obstruction in cats
Like dogs, cats are naturally curious. But sometimes their curiosity gets the best of them, and this is especially true when cats eat strange things. As connoisseurs of life, many cats don’t hesitate to sample all sorts of objects from toilet paper to thread, clothing, and even rodents and insects. While many of these things are able to pass through the intestinal tract without incident, sometimes a cat’s appetite for life can cause problems. This is definitely true for dogs as well – be sure to read about the dangers of foreign object ingestion to your dog.
The most common problem caused by eating something strange is a foreign body obstruction. A potentially life-threatening condition, foreign body obstruction occurs when one of the many strange objects (foreign bodies) ingested by your cat is unable to make it successfully through the intestinal tract. When the object becomes “stuck,” it can cause a lot of discomfort and be very dangerous.
If you know your cat has ingested something she shouldn't have, call your veterinarian immediately.
Causes and symptoms
When something is ingested by your cat, it usually takes between 10-24 hours to move through the entire digestive tract. Some objects, however, can take much longer – even months! Sometimes, objects are too big to progress through the digestive tract, and when this is the case, they cause an obstruction. If the foreign body has made it to the colon, it’s likely to pass – however, there’s still the possibility that it will be painful, especially if it is sharp or jagged. In cases like this, you might need veterinary assistance. It is important to follow this rule: never pull a foreign object that is protruding from your pet’s rectum! If still lodged inside, this can cause serious damage. Here are some symptoms to watch for if your cat has eaten something strange:
- Abdominal tenderness or pain
- Lack of appetite
- Straining to defecate; constipation
- Behavioral changes such as biting or hissing when picked up
Another potentially life-threatening condition can occur if a cat swallows thread, especially if it is attached to a needle. As the cat swallows thread, it can wrap around the tongue and pull against the tongue with each swallow. If that sounds uncomfortable, consider what can happen if a needle is attached to that thread: it may pierce the stomach or intestines