Did my Cat Eat THAT??? REALLY?

Dec 16, 2013 by     3 Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

This story is one that I love to tell because it fortunately has a happy ending. It could just as easily have resulted in a tragic loss of a pet and a broken-hearted 6- year old. Pay attention and learn, cat lovers.

My patient, FB (short for Fatty Boy), was rushed in first thing Monday morning to my cat practice. His Mom, Ali, said he had been throwing up all last night and hadn’t touched his breakfast. Ali had entertained some friends with children during the previous 2 days. She remembered that she spotted FB playing Barbies with her daughter and friends in her bedroom. We also learned that FB had a history of snacking on plastic bags. He generally was obsessive about eating not only as much food as he could steal from his 2 kitty housemates, but as many clearly desirable objects made of plastic, as well.

Once admitted to the clinic, we promptly took some blood samples and got FB in for x-rays. FB was drooling buckets the whole time. Cats do that when they’re about to vomit, just like we do. I clearly saw two objects (foreign bodies) in the belly. One was in the stomach and the other one had moved further down into the small intestine. Both could cause complete blockages. In many cats, foreign objects that are swallowed move all the way down and are eliminated without consequences. We hospitalized FB overnight with iv support and treatments for pain and nausea. We would repeat x-rays in the morning and hope the objects would pass through uneventfully. The following morning, my assistant and I cheerfully poked through FB’s litter box contents. While carefully shredding and hunting, I squealed as I struck hard stuff and I rinsed it off for display to all. It was a chewed-up piece of plastic that looked like bright blue gum but felt hard. It was not a recognizable object due to all the damage done before it went down the pipe. Still, our new x-ray showed that the foreign body in FB’s stomach had not budged and the one in the intestines was the one we found. Now we had an emergency on our hands and we had to work quickly to get the object out and relieve the blockage in order to save FB’s life. I was optimistic and hoped I could grasp and remove the thing through my endoscope so we could avoid surgery for FB. All attempts with my grabber through the scope yielded only tufts of white cat hair but I could see a solid black thing that was too large and slick to grab. We moved swiftly into surgery with FB just as the sun went down.

I felt sweaty and a little shaky in the OR as I waited for FB to be prepped and settled in. I began to explore the belly and sighed with relief as I peered inn and saw pink, shiny healthy looking tissues. Great news!

My feet and head ached and throbbed with fatigue as it was now dark outside and this day had been challenging. Then suddenly, all my discomfort slipped away as I gently extracted the mystery object and handed it to my assistant. He gently peeled off the hair obscuring the thing and underneath lay a perfect little tiny black dress shoe, a loafer, belonging to Ken, the doll. The litter loafer glistened in the surgical light, tiny and perfect and so cute. I was smiling ear to ear. We later learned that the blue thing found in poop that morning was Barbie’s purse!

The take home message in this story is that some cats have obsessions involving textures or oral sensations. They tend to repeatedly eat things with a specific similar texture, like wool or string or plastic. In other words, cats don’t “learn their lesson” when an object obstructs and endangers their life. We have the sacred responsibility to cat proof the homes of these kitties and always be aware of monitoring for materials or objects they might swallow.

Dr Elyse Kent

Dr. Elyse Kent graduated from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 and completed an Internship at West Los Angeles Veterinary Medical Group in 1981.

In her early years in practice, Dr. Kent began to see a need for a separate medical facility just for cats, where fear and stress would be reduced for feline patients. In 1985, in a former home in Santa Monica, Dr. Kent opened the only exclusively feline veterinary clinic in Los Angeles, Westside Hospital for Cats (WHFC). Along with other forward-thinking feline practitioners from across North America, Dr. Kent founded the Academy of Feline Medicine in 1991. Through the efforts of these practitioners, feline medicine and surgery became a certifiable species specialty through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). Dr. Kent became board certified in Feline Practice in the first group to sit for the Feline exam in 1995. She certified for an additional ten (10) years in 2005. There are now 78 feline specialists in the world. Dr. Kent served as the Feline Regent and Officer on the Council of Regents for 9 years. She is currently the immediate Past President of the ABVP, which certifies all species specialists. She also heads up a task force joining certain efforts of the ABVP with The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). She currently serves as a Director on the Executive Board of The American Association of Feline Practitioners.

The present day WHFC facility opened in 2000. It was the fulfillment of a vision for a spacious, delightful, state of the art, full service cat medical center that Dr. Kent had dreamed of and planned for over many years.

Westside Hospital for Cats
2317 Cotner Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Phone: 310-479-2428

Website: http://www.westsidehospitalforcats.com/
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  • Jennifer Moore

    Would this be considered ‘Pica”? Or just a cat that likes to eat random stuff? LOL I had a cat named Roo that had Pica and he chewed on anything plastic, especially plastic bags if he could get one. (which he didn’t get very often or for very long) 🙂
    I am fortunate now, I have seven cats and none of them eat anything but food which is nice.

  • Elyse Kent

    Pica is defined as eating a substance other than food such as soil, rubber, string, plants or wool. It can be caused by an underlying medical problem like anemia or intestinal disease. in kittens, it is part of exploratory behavior that is outgrown. In the adult kitty, it is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder usually including exaggerated chewing that is difficult to interrupt. It might indicate anxiety or stress.

  • Bill Edwards

    Never did figure out the foreign object one of my cats ate. Came out on its own but stunk like hell and didn’t resemble anything in the apartement. Go figure.

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