On Friday, August 7th, a well-known feline patient presented to our hospital. He is a very playful cat at home and is known to chew on things. The clients noticed the cat was gagging that morning as if he had a hairball. Later they noticed a pillow lying in the middle of the floor in the sewing room. They had been working on the pillow and knew it had a loose thread with a needle attached to it. When found, the thread was still attached but the needle was missing. They promptly brought him in to the hospital concerned he may have swallowed it.
On presentation, he was still gagging. The technicians immediately took a radiograph of the patient. No needle was observed in his GI tract from esophagus to intestines. A second radiograph was taken of his head and throat. The needle was observed to be stuck in his nasopharynx.
The pharynx is the structure that lies at the back of the mouth and throat. It is the cavity behind the tongue and nasal passage through which both food and air are transported to deeper structures. The portion of the pharynx that is part of the respiratory tract is referred to as the nasopharynx, and it connects the back of the nasal cavity to the larynx.
The patient was promptly sedated. An endotracheal tube was placed to maintain and protect his airway and he was placed on gas anesthesia. The needle was difficult to reach due to the cat’s small oral cavity. It was firmly stuck in his soft palate. The veterinarian made a small incision to free it from its position and it was removed successfully.
The patient was given injectable pain medication, an injection of a long lasting antibiotic, and subcutaneous fluids to maintain his hydration. His owners were instructed to feed soft food for approximately a week. The mouth heals quite rapidly. The clients were called a few days later for an update and they reported that he was doing very well.
This patient’s owners are very observant. They were prompt in detecting abnormal symptoms in their pet and immediately brought him in. This not only saved the pet from pain, discomfort, but also more extensive treatment that could have been costly.
Foreign body ingestion is something we commonly see in both dogs and cats. String can be very dangerous for pets to ingest getting stuck in the intestines and causing them to bunch up and block all movement. An intestinal blockage can results in symptoms including lethargy, not eating, abdominal pain, vomiting, etc. If left untreated, this condition is fatal. Immediate veterinary attention is necessary. Often surgical intervention is necessary to remove the object. Early detection is important in successfully treating this condition.
If you believe your pet may have ingested foreign material, seek veterinary assistance immediately. Bemidji Veterinary Hospital has a veterinarian on call 24/7 to address your small animal emergencies. Call us at 218-751-2753.