In the first of a new monthly pet advice column from the Animals Are Us veterinary practice in Station Road, Hayes, vet JOE WIDDOWS tells the story of one of a cat's nine lives well and truly lost!
MINNIE, a cat of some 18 years, recently became confused in her old age. While indulging in a game of catch the cotton ball she made a mistake and swallowed a long piece of cotton complete with three-inch needle.
Minnies long-suffering owner saw her retching and took her to the emergency vet, who immediately recognised the signs, took an x-ray and found the needle firmly wedged in Minnies throat.
The vet identified this problem as needing complex surgery, best done by an expert.
At Animals Are Us, we have a specialist surgeon who visits when we have cases like this, and he came in to help us with Minnie.
However, when we took new x-rays to check the position of the needle we found it had vanished! Confused, we went on a needle hunt with the x-ray machine and finally tracked it down in the last place we expected to find it.
The needle had somehow managed to pass all the way through the oesophagus, stomach, small intestines and large intestines overnight and ended up in the large colon. All of this without causing any internal damage.
Minnie hadnt been eating or drinking much understandably and had become dehydrated and constipated as a result.
We hospitalised her on fluids in the hope that she would pass the needle overnight, but no luck. A new x-ray revealed that the needle might be trying to push through the wall of the colon.
On seeing this. I called in one of our other vets, Lucy Ashby, who has a special set of skills eight of them in fact in the shape of very long, thin fingers.
She was able to hook her finger round the back of the needle and pull it out.
Minnie was given some much deserved pain relief and taken back to her owner, and we havent heard from her since. We think that no news is good news.
Things we learned from Minnie:
1. We will now take repeat x rays before calling in our very busy specialist surgeon.
2. Cats are so obsessed with cotton that they dont mind the metal bit attached to the end. Keep your sewing boxes closed.
3. Retching, pawing at the mouth, drooling and vomiting can all be signs of a foreign body in cats and dogs. Dont leave it until tomorrow. Minnie was a lucky cat and this story could have ended very differently.