Cat lovers everywhere know how much their cat likes to be entertained by a piece of string, some ribbon or a ball of yarn. Cat lovers also know how easy it can be to drop one of these items silently onto the floor, where these fun toys can turn deadly if found and swallowed by their cat.
Gone In One Gulp!
That is exactly what happened to Mimi, a bold calico cat. Her owner noticed Mimi playing with a piece of thread, saw the glint of metal, and then in the blink of an eye both the thread and the metallic object were gone. Mimi’s family suspected the metallic object was a sewing needle attached to the thread.
The X-ray ConfirmsMimi was rushed to The Animal Medical Center where our 24/7 animal emergency service immediately took an x-ray and found the needle already lodged in her small intestine. If the needle had stayed in her stomach, it could have been easily retrieved using an endoscope. Because the needle had moved into the intestine, removal required emergency surgery, hopefully before the needle and its attached string caused any internal damage. The AMC surgeon on call started surgery at 11 p.m., and through a 1.5 inch long incision in the intestine, a 1.5 inch long needle with an attached five inch long piece of thread was successfully removed. By 2 a.m., Mimi was back in her hospital cage, safely recovered from anesthesia. She resumed eating the following day and was discharged from The AMC.
Protect Your CatEvery veterinarian can recite a list of feline patients just like Mimi who have eaten shoelaces, Christmas tree tinsel, cassette tape ribbon, and hair ribbons. Mimi was lucky that her family acted quickly. They saw her eat the thread and knew eating it could be serious. If you are a cat owner, keep all string out of reach of your cat and allow her to play with string only when supervised, to avoid a scenario like Mimi or worse. Be sure you know the phone number and address of the closest animal ER so you don’t waste time finding it when you have a critical emergency.
Ann E. Hohenhaus is veterinarian at The Animal Medical Center who is Board Certified in Oncology and Small Animal Internal Medicine