Cat, Don't Eat That!
We all know that dogs will eat anything, while cats are notoriously finicky eaters. But cats do seemingly have the ability to turn any object into a toy. They'll play with old straws, bits of foil, dental floss, paper bags... whatever they can get their paws on! While it can be really cute to see a cat batting at a ribbon hanging from a gift, it's important to always keep a close eye on what your cat has access to.
Cats may swallow objects that they are playing with or occasionally like to experience their environment through taste, sometimes resulting in a life-threatening situation requiring surgery. Foreign bodies can block or perforate intestines. Objects can also become embedded in the tongue, palate, or nasal cavity (fish hooks and sewing needles most commonly). Our doctors have surgically removed a whole host of items including hair bands, rubber from a bike rack, kids toys, dress straps, sewing needles, fish hooks with and without the line, ear plugs, $0.21 in change, a bikini strap with metal clasp, buttons, a marble, an action figure head, a baby bottle nipple, erasers, cellophane candy wrappers, twist ties and clips from bread wrappers, ribbon on a balloon-(once even with the Happy Birthday balloon still inflated and attached!), needles and thread, and small cat toys. Pictured to the left, you can see one of our patients recovering from surgery after eating several small cat toys.
There are many ways that you can protect your cat from these situations. First and foremost, be sure to scrutinize cat toys before you buy them. Beware of pieces that could be bitten off and swallowed and strings of any kind longer than 3 inches. Toys with small bells that could be ingested are not a good idea. Ideally a veterinarian would have approved the toys available as it is done here at Cats Exclusive. Be mindful that there are many toys made that are dangerous for cats. Wand toys with long strings are great fun for a cat but should only be played with under supervision and out of your cat's reach when you're not around. Don't give your cat access to ribbon, string, yarn, rubber bands, or other such items. Make sure used dental floss is never left lying around as it is particularly risky for a cat. Keep craft and hobby items (scrapbooking, fishing lines, and hooks, etc) in drawers or cupboards where your cats can't get to them. Plastic bags can also be an issue for some cats, so keep those tucked away too. Covering or concealing your wastebaskets is always a good idea. Mostly, it is important to know the risks and the signs to look for.
A cat that has swallowed a foreign body might have vomiting, lethargy, hiding, inappetance, or licking their lips (a sign of nausea). If you suspect that your cat may have ingested a non-food item, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Published on April 7, 2011.