Hard Lesson - What Cats and Dogs Can Swallow

Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 213 Posts

Today I learned a hard lesson: Pets are like toddlers, they eat small items that they can choke on, or worse get lodged in their intestines. Today my cat almost died. He had to have surgery that has so far cost over $800. He swallowed a tiny piece of metal that got stuck in between his large and small bowels. The vet said it looks like the metal they took out of him was the wire off of the end of a plastic wrapper from sausage or pepperoni. I'm sure he got it from our irresponsible neighbors garbage burn pile when we let him out to go to the bathroom. He'll be an indoor cat from now on.


I am posting this because I want to warn all those who love their pets that my veterinary clinic staff say they see about 1 animal per day that has swallowed something that's obstructed their bowel and needs surgery. They said that they've seen cats that have swallowed sewing pins that have ripped their intestines all the way down. Dogs can swallow small toy footballs or Barbie accessories that block their bowels (and not all show up on X-rays). One of the worst offenders is dental floss. My cat won't be allowed in my craft/sewing room or outside anymore (unless I'm with him).

He made it through today's surgery and everything looks good so far. I just pray he recovers to his normal spunky self. Symptoms for this include, vomiting, lethargy, and not eating. This can be confusing because these symptoms can be the same for a urinary blockage. Do yourselves a favor: "pet-proof" your home like your would "baby-proof" for a baby. After all, are pets ARE our babies anyway! Also, think about getting medical insurance for your pet. You never think it'll happen to you.

Cyinda from near Seattle

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April 11, 20080 found this helpful

I'm so glad your cat made it through! I have my own $1500 cat. He has always lived inside, but he swallowed a plastic piece he bit off of a cat toy! So never assume something is safe just because it's made for cats.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 213 Posts
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

I posted the above letter on the day my cat had surgery, but after taking with the Vet since then (when I picked Smokey up) I found out that in their small clinic they don't see an average of one pet per day (as I wrote), but more like 3 to 5 pets a day that have eaten something that requires surgery, It's actually seems "common"... Sad, but true!

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By Sarah (Guest Post)
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

I have my own million dollar cat here too. He went to work and swallowed at least 6 yellow foam earplugs that obstructed his intestines, bowels, etc. His kidneys started shutting down and his spleen was damaged and he narrowly pulled through. Thankfully, he is on the mend and I am much the wiser. He grew up playing with the earplugs and had NEVER eaten one....until now. Who knows how many he threw up and/or passed on another day!


I'm told it could be the earwax that he wanted, but then some of the earplugs were brand new, so go figure.

Anyway, so glad your kitties are on the mend as well. Who would've thought they'd swallow those things anyway! The kitty wearing the cumberbund is the earplug eater name Lucky, of all things. The other cat is our Maine Coon named Maggie who eats only her food and LOTS of mice :)

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 213 Posts
April 12, 20080 found this helpful

Who Knew! ... First I'm offered a bony "Parking-Lot-Living-Stray" which my daughter has had wormed & neutered (especially) for me (so I'd HAVE to take him)... & I think "Hmmm, we DO need a mouser, I'll keep him for an outside ONLY cat".... Then on down the line, we start bringing him in when it's cold, but only in ONE room... Pretty soon it's: "Well, we'll let him inside the house, but only on the kitchen floor & not on the carpets"... Then several months later it's: "Well, He can go on the carpets, but NOT in our bedrooms" then, later on (this has taken a process of 2 years) it's: We might as well let him in our bedroom, but not on our bed!


(he has a habit of coming in covered with dirt, cobwebs & dust!) Then it's: "Well, I guess it's okay if he sleeps on our beds, but not when he's dirty".... BUT, NOW, of course, it doesn't matter how dirty, dusty or muddy he is. He's got the TOTAL run of the household & we work for HIM... PLUS, he's cost me nearly a THOUSAND dollars... So much for our "Totally FREE, outside only, mouser"

We fell IN LOVE... with a scrawny, little black, fuzzy, STRAY!

--> You know, I bet this happens all the time: "Free Cat becomes Million-Dollar Cat!"

* AND: I used to laugh & make fun of "those CRAZY cat ladies" ... and now I'm one of them! ... <*grin*>

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April 12, 20080 found this helpful

Hi Cyinda - glad your cat is going to be okay, and thanks for the heads up. I'm looking around in my house with 'pet appetite' tonight, finding things that should be out of reach.


happy healing, God Bless you, --Kim

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April 17, 20080 found this helpful

Please hug your kitty for me. I love cats but after
losing my AllieMae no more cats. Now I have a doggie
who is adorable a shih-poo who is such a GOOD boy
EXCEPT for snorting a plastic eye off a stuffed toy!
Quick trip to vet and all better, me poorer!
I too went around baby/doggie proofing home. I told
some friends about this with cats and dogs and we
all decided to tell friends to prevent this.
I am so glad you posted this and took the time to do it.
It will save a pet. These little buggers just want to
play and explore.

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By Jodi (Guest Post)
February 25, 20090 found this helpful

How long before you know something is wrong? My friend's cat ate a wire off a bread bag and he's very worried about her--but hasn't taken her to the vet because she is fine so far.

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 679 Feedbacks
November 19, 20120 found this helpful

Although this tip was posted 4 years ago originally, I'm so glad it was re-posted. I've had cats since I was 3 years old (over 58 years now), and luckily have never had this problem, but I am going to look at everything now with new eyes!


I have been guilty lately of leaving a piece of dental floss draped across my toothbrush because I have a bothersome space between 2 back molars, and I go in and floss every couple of hours, using the same piece of floss. No more!

Since 2 of my cats like to walk across the sink, I can't take the chance on either of them grabbing that floss and coming to grief with it. When I throw the floss out I make sure it goes all the way into the lidded wastebasket, so they won't get at it, but I didn't think how they could easily get to the piece on my toothbrush! Duh! From now on, I'll throw the floss out and get a new piece each time.

Floss is cheap - and cat surgery is not! I'll also be especially careful about small items like those mentioned by other TF post-ers. This was a wake-up call, and very much appreciated. I'm so glad that Smokey and the other members' kitties recovered!

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