Monday, September 30, 2013

Weird Stuff My Cat Ate | Tales From A Vet Tech

Sometimes, our pets eat weird stuff. Much to their own demise, but it happens every now and then. I though it would be interesting to share some of the weird things I've seen pets eat. Cats in particular for today's post.

When a cat consumes an inedible object, the object is called a "foreign body". In many cases, these foreign bodies must be surgically removed because the cat cannot pass the object and they usually become very sick. Sometimes, a cat might eat a foreign body without their owners knowing about it. Signs and symptoms of foreign body ingestion in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fever, tender abdomen and/or decreased appetite.

Weird Stuff Cats Like to Eat
Photo via Morgan

They are not always easy to diagnose. Usually, x-rays and/or abdominal ultrasound is necessary to diagnose foreign body ingestion in cats. So now that you know a little bit more about this "condition", I bring you Weird Stuff My Cat Ate from a vet tech.


An Acorn

One of our patients came in very sick one day. He was a large male black house panther kitty who had been vomiting and lethargic. The doctor ran bloodwork and poor kitty was put on IV fluids until we could determine what was wrong with him. 

Finally, after a couple of days and getting the OK to do an abdominal ultrasound the radiologist determined that he had a foreign body blocking the passage from his stomach to his intestines. Mr. House Panther was scheduled for immediate surgery. 

To all of our surprise, the foreign body was an acorn. And kitty didn't even bother to chew it... he just swallowed the thing whole. Even his owner was pretty surprised. Fortunately, this house panther was just fine and recovered well from the whole ordeal. 

A Name Tag

I can't remember all of the exact details of this particular case, but we determined that this kitty patient had ingested something she wasn't supposed to. I remember assisting during this surgery and both the doctor and I were very surprised to find a heart-shaped blingy tag with the cat's name on it. 

Yep, this kitty decided she did not want to wear her name tag around her neck. I guess in this case, you are what you eat? 

Indoor Plants

One of our cat patients had some pretty general "sick cat" symptoms over the weekend while he was boarding with us. Mostly, he was vomiting a lot. We ended up needing to do an after-hours surgical procedure after determining the likely cause was due to a foreign body ingestion. 

Now, it's not really that weird for cats to eat plants. The plants we pulled out from this kitty's stomach were a little odd though. I'm not sure what type of plants they were, but they almost resembled long pieces of thick grass. They were probably 6-8 inches long and came out all in one big bundle. I guess they weren't very chewable for this cat patient. 

Foam Darts

I have actually seen two cats eat these foam darts that go with those kid toy guns. Seems like a strange enough object to want to consume, and I find it even stranger that I've witnessed this type of foreign body more than once. 

Rubber Bands and Hair Ties

Rubber bands and hair ties are something cats love to eat for some reason. In one particular case, our patient decided to eat over a dozen of them. It was like a never-ending bottomless pit of hair ties that we removed from this patient's stomach and intestines. We saved all of them to show her owner. It was pretty amazing the amount of hair ties that this cat ate. I wish I could remember the exact number. 

Cat Foreign Bodies - Hair Ties and Rubber Bands
Photo via Joel Gillman

Common Objects Cats Might Ingest

Aside from some of these weird objects that I've seen cats eat, there are some other more common objects a cat might ingest. Avoid keeping these items out in the open, especially if you have a cat who might eat something they aren't supposed to. Here's a list of common objects cats might ingest:
  • String
  • Hair ties
  • Rubber bands
  • Plants
  • Plastic
  • Wool
  • Paper
  • Tinsel
  • Dental floss
  • Shoe strings
The string and string-like items are especially bad for cats because they are "Linear Foregin Bodies". Linear foreign bodies cause more complications than other foreign bodies. You should never pull out any strings you see hanging from your cats anus or mouth. Doing so could possibly cause intestinal rupture.  

61 comments:

  1. Muahaha...oh kitties! Someones' eyes were too big for their stomachs! ;-) Wow...12 rubber bands and foam darts? Even I wouldn't eat those!! Hehe! Domeek had to permanently ban tinsel from the Christmas tree due to past kitties eating a whole bunch of that stuff (and hoarding it for months after)! Love these stories!

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    1. Oh yea, I think I remember about the tinsel thing last year!

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  2. Cats and kittens sure need to be watched! Now that the season if no so far off, I agree that tinsel should be left off Christmas decorations! Much too tempting.

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    1. I think my cat ate a thumbtack yesterday, but don't know for sure. She is not ill or in distress. Besides observing her what should i do? Thanks!

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  3. My bother eats rubber dummies and he's very good in finding them. Even when they were hiding in the cupboard, he find a way to "steal" them. Now the baby has grown up, there are no dummies in the house anymore, so now he can't take them anymore. He was very lucky that he wasn't harmed. Phew!

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    1. I am glad your brother never got hurt too Binky :)

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  4. Alfie pinches stuff from the neighbors and brings it home but he doesn't eat weird stuff, he's too fussy, I'm not I eat anything BOL xxooxxx

    Mollie and Alfie

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    1. Well, Shiner's exactly the same way Mollie!

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  5. Sorry I haven't been by for agggges, just catching up bow. Love the new header!
    I eat lots of things I shouldn't. I ran off with some polystyrene the other day and mummy couldn't catch me before I'd munched it. luckily it came out the other end bol

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    1. No worries Misaki. I know your mummy has been busy! Shiner's pretty good about pooping out non-edible objects too ;)

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  6. What a scary list - I always give Lucy hair ties to play with - she loves them - but now I am a little worried...

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    1. Hey Hilary - thanks for stopping by! You probably know your cat best, but just be warned that some cats end up eating them... and sometimes it's a cat who the owners would have never thought would do something like that!

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  7. Oh my! Thanks goodness my cats haven never eaten things like this (knock wood!)

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  8. I am constantly keeping an eye on "loose items" around here that I know would or could be tempting for Sam to grab off a table and chew on or try to eat. When he was little we discovered he loved eating rubber bands so we were VERY careful to not leave them around anywhere. He no longer "counter surfs" due to arthritis keeping him ON the ground but we are still vigilant. They can truly be little kitty trash receptacles if we aren't careful!

    Pam

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  9. I am glad that you mentioned rubber bands and hair ties because I get super upset when I read about people giving these things to cats to play with. The other thing that might be good to add to that list is TINY BELLS, the kind that ridiculous cat toy manufacturers put on their toys. They can be easily ingested and can kill. I either NEVER BUY cat toys that have bells on them or I cut them off. They aren't cute, they are killers.

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    1. That's a good one too Caren - thanks for sharing about the bells! Some people just don't know that cats will actually eat those things. Glad to spread the word!

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  10. I had no idea that cats ate hair ties OR the little bells. I'll have to be careful when buying toys for my daughter's cats.

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  11. Mom can attest to all of the above and add her 2cents worth! Her first cat almost died his first Christmas after eating tinsel. Once he passed the tinsel they called him the tinsel kitty from then on. Bread ties are notorious, we would find one on the floor we called them "$1000 emergency vet visits." Then there was Peaches, her first near death experience, after the vet said he had to operate to save her, showed us the plastic cone from inside her little furry mouse she had eaten.

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    1. Oh my goodness! Sounds like your mom has had a mischievous bunch of kitties! Bread ties is another good one I think.

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  12. Interesting! Our cats don't eat too many weird things. Our pig on the other hand...

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    1. I wonder if mini pigs have a high instance of foreign bodies? Dogs and ferrets do.

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  13. a name tag? to internalize the name LOL. I was the first one with a swallowed kitchen sponge but meanwhile the had two other dogs who ate "Sponge Bobs". not only copyCATS exists, even copydogs :o)

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    1. Lol uh oh! That doesn't sound good...

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  14. Crazy! I thought dogs were more prone to do this because many dogs will do almost anything for food and eat almost every food imaginable. I never would have suspected this from cat, who is generally more picky than a dog when it comes to food.

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    1. Yea Dawn, I see this more in dogs but some cats will do it too!

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  15. We agree with Dawn...quite an eye opener. We'd too would have thought dogs were the main culprits. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

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    1. I still think dogs are the main culprits, but cats and ferrets make the list too! And sometimes birds...

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  16. An article on my "future" blog list! Thanks for this informative post. Cats really will eat the craziest things. Since I sew I am very careful about thread, but once cut some long (just over 1 foot long) and 1-2" wide strips for the kitties to play with on the floor while I sewed. I looked down just in time to see Tyler eating one of them. I couldn't believe it and was worried that he would end up in the animal hospital. I watched him like a hawk all day/evening; he kept looking me wondering why I was stalking him around the house! Fortunately in his case he passed the foreign object the next morning.

    So lesson learned and we don't leave ANY potential bad stuff lying around, although I have had to get onto my husband more than once for leaving those little metal bread ties out on the kitchen counter. I just don't think he realizes how serious this can be.for kitties! Of course, we also now joke that instead of taking our recycled clothing to Goodwill, that we can just give it to Tyler! :)

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    1. Oh my goodness how lucky you are! You know, I think it was on TV where I was watching about a cat who chomped down on a sewing needle and the x-ray showed it poking up through his gums. The owner could not figure out what was wrong with her cat!

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  17. Wow, those are some strange things that those kitties ate! My cats haven't really eaten anything strange except the usual grass. Sookie, on the other hand, I have to be a lot more careful with. :)

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  18. See, I always knew kitties were nothing but trouble. BOL You have seen some interesting things at work, Miss Ann. Thanks for sharing and educating us all!
    *Cairn cuddles*
    Oz

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  19. If your kitty chews on little mice toys, watch that he (or she) doesn't eat the fiberfilling! I have to cut off tails as well as bells on these toys. My cat also tries to eat bows and ribbons on gifts.
    Elinor

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    1. All of those are good things to include on this list Elinor! Thank you for stopping by and sharing.

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  20. Great minds think alike - I've got a 'weird stuff dogs eat' post on my blog today! The hair ties seems to be the only cross-over item. Hmmmm. Hair-flavor. Yum.

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    1. Yea Idk what it is about hair flavor, but Shiner seems to like it too. I'll have to stop by later to read yours. Weird stuff dogs eat is next on my list :)

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  21. a grate post two day ann, thanx for sharin...R sister frum like a bazillion yeerz ago eated tinsel off de tree; sad lee it wuz her "last christmas"...:(

    ya hafta bee care full oh de small wire "hangers" ornamints R on... as well as those plastic what cha call itz on price tags N clothes....dai$y tried eatin one oh those once N her waz veree fortunate de food serviss peepulz saw it ...it had stuck in bee tween her teeth...

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    1. Oh no your poor sister! The little wire hangers are another good one to list I think. Glad that Dai$y didn't swallow it!

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  22. Just love how your little toothie is around the bracelet. Thanks for stopping by the Tabby Cat Club and helping us celebrate our 100th membership!!!!!

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    1. Honey Delite had a wonderful time at the pawty Gracie! Thanks for stopping by!

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  23. Great post, Ann! One of the worst I've seen is tinsel....I'm always surprised when I see cat toys using bits of tinsel in them. I've also seen a cat swallow a piece of thread with a needle at the end....luckily the surgery was easy and very little damage, but it could have been much worse!

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    1. Yikes... I haven't seen that one before, but I have seen a dog swallow a fish hook on the end of someone's line...

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  24. You should know that cats never chew our food. We swallow our food whole so why would we chew an acorn or hair tie. I, personally, would NEVER eat my foam rockets or any part of them that I may bite off.

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    1. I am glad that you have no desire to consume your rockets CK. Wouldn't want you having to get surgery!

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  25. Unfortunately I totally believe that list!

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  26. Thanks for this post. Your list is very helpful.

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  27. I think all pets have a tendancy to do stuff like this,xx Rachel

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    1. Yea, you're right Rachel and Speedy. The can all be mischievous!

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  28. My cats eat fake plants!!! He even once tried to eat a dime. I'll never know what he is thinking!!

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  29. My kitty pulled the yarn ties of a wool afghan and ate them. I had no idea until they came out, (you know what I mean....lol). Had to put the afghan away.

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    1. Well, at least they came out on their own!

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  30. Everyone knows dogs eat weird things, but having never had cats, I tend to forget that they probably eat weird stuff too... and turns out, they DO! And many things, at that!
    Hair ties!! Swallowing one by accident while they're playing with them is one thing, but holy woof, I mean holy meow, over a dozen?!?! I can just imagine this cat just chomping away, like "Mmm... these are delicious... how kind of them to leave me the whole bag... "

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    1. Oh yes, they definitely do eat weird stuff... the multiple hair band thing happens often I think. I've read about several cases like the one I mentioned above.

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  31. Thank you so much for this post, Ann. It's really scary the things kitties ingest. For that reason, we don't leave string or feather toys, or rubber bands and such, lying around.

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  32. My cat bro Bert is a serious offender but has been lucky so far and not needed a vet visit. He eats his toy mice in their entirety, no more toy mice. He eats electrical cords, all our cords are now covered or out of reach. He eats hair bands, these are also out of reach. He eats anything he can find and is a huge challenge for Mom. He is not a starving boy by any means, so we have no idea what possesses him!

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    1. It's something called "pica" and it's usually unknown why they do it. Every now and then, it might be because they were separated from their mother too early. I certainly don't think all those things sound tasty :) Silly kitty!

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  33. Oh man a name tag!?! That sounds sounds so dangerous! Did the kitty survive?

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    1. Oh yes, all of these kitties survived their foreign body surgeries. The main thing you have to worry about with these surgeries is infection in the body. An abdominal cavity is considered sterile, but the insides of a stomach and intestines are not sterile. So that kind of presents a small problem.

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  34. Caesar acted and ate as normal, did not know there was an issue until his annual check-up when they found what they thought was a huge tumor. Hair bands are evil. Two teenage daughters leaving them around the house resulted in a $1,500 surgery to remove over 100 of them (one gallon sized zip lock bag full) from our cat's, Caesar, stomach. The vet had never seen anything like it and were shocked he was not violently ill all of the time.

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  35. Our cat eats bread. She gets into our kitchen, onto our counter, and into the cupboard the bread is in. Then, she eats through the plastic bag the loaf is in. We come home, and there's vomit all over. It's not just bread. Tortillas, French fries, and, a few times, noodles. We don't feed it to her. We take our eyes off of it, and she gets into it. Any suggestions?
    By Me

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    1. I had a cat that would eat the bread too. Now, I have a new kitten that does the same, although I haven't noticed trouble with the plastic although it does pose a threat if the swallow it since it can't pass through their digestive system. If it were to get stuck, kitty would be in real trouble and possibly need surgery to remove it. My best suggestion is to put it away somewhere where she can't get to it. That's what I have to do with my kitten.

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