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.
|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.
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?
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.
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.
|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:
- Hair ties
- Rubber bands
- 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.