So one day, while working at the veterinary hospital (as so many of my stories start) we had a 1-year-old spayed female kitten come in because she had been vomiting. Many non-kitten owners may not know this, but cats LOVE to eat hair ties, string (close up those sewing kits) and bands of all different sorts. Therefore, when a 1-year-old cat comes in for vomiting, we always ask, do you think your cat ate a foreign body?
When veterinarians refer to the phrase “foreign body”, they are essentially referring to an animal consuming something that isn’t edible. When we asked the owner of the cat, ” Could your cat have possibly eaten something she shouldn’t have?”. The owner responded, “I don’t think so”. Then we started to list off things cats normally eat, just to be sure. The doctor said, “Are you sure she didn’t eat a hair tie, or some string?”. The owner replied, “No my cat has never shown interest in eating those types of things”. Then, her 5-year-old daughter speaks up and says, “Sure she does mom, she comes in my room and eats hair ties every day!”.
So there it was, a flabbergasted mother, a daughter who had all the answers, and a kitten potentially full of hair ties. We immediately began preparing for foreign body surgery, but before we could proceed, we needed to take some X-rays to be sure. I wish I had a picture of the X-ray of this cat’s stomach because it was literally FULL of hair ties. By the time the surgery was over, we removed 24 hair ties from the cat’s stomach! The truly shocking part was that this cat ate 24 before she started showing signs of illness. Since she was young and healthy, the cat did great under anesthesia, and recovered very well from the surgery, but both the mother and the 5-year-old daughter learned a hard lesson that day.
Since I don’t have a picture of this cat’s foreign body X-rays, I thought it would be fun to share some other foreign body X-rays.
And that is a needle (probably a sewing needle)
Also, you want to keep in mind that all foreign body objects do not appear on X-ray. Many of the things our pets eat, like a rubber ball for example, wouldn’t be seen on an X-ray image. However, foreign bodies can cause shadowing, and irregular gas patterns that veterinarians can identify. So when your veterinarian shows you an image, and you are not sure you see the object, don’t worry, they are probably concerned about the patterns and shadowing they see, but don’t be afraid to ask. Your veterinarian always wants you to feel comfortable with the information. After all, it is your pet.