Wednesday, April 17, 2013
No one knows why some cats eat foreign material. Things like silk plants, crayons, kids plastic toys, and ribbons don't taste good but of course they are fun to play with and chew on, and without an opposable thumb, things get swallowed. My own cat, Pipsqueak, used to chew on, and occasionally ingest the spiral part of phone cords (this was before cell phones were invented). I have a client who now keeps her hair scrunchies under lock and key (after hair scrunchie surgical removal last year). In my career as a veterinarian, I have surgically removed many interesting items -or "Foreign Bodies." from the GI tract of dogs and cats. The list includes a barbie doll head, a cassette tape, a plastic dinosaur, sparkle balls, a sewing needle, and several phone cord spirals.
Recently, I saw a patient with a history of eating NERF BULLETS. The kids in the house thought this was great fun when the cat would chase and chew on the soft spongy bullets. They would occasionally find a nerf bullet in the litter box, and never thought much of this, until last week, when Hunter was vomiting, had a painful belly, and was not interested in his food.
The good news for Hunter and his family is that he did not need surgery (this time). His body was again able to pass the bullet. The really important lesson is this: just because a foreign body passes one time, does not mean that it will EVERY TIME. If you see foreign material passing in your cats stool, remove the offending item from your house. ( I've been assured that the nerf bullets and gun are now being kept at grandma's house.)
We may not understand why certain cats chose to swallow things that are not food. We DO KNOW that if you have a cat that fits this description, expect them to be a REPEAT OFFENDER! Any cat toy small enough to be swallowed should be removed from the home. Any toy with chewable parts (like eyeballs, or tails) or ribbons that dangle should be avoided. A good rule of thumb is that any toy smaller than a quarter is a FOREIGN BODY WAITING TO HAPPEN for a cat. Most cat toys are safe, but not all. And many things that our cats play with are not really cat toys to being with.
Hoping that all your cats are able to "dodge" the foreign body bullet, like Hunter did!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic