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My cat, Zeus 5 years old, started vomiting, alot. Listless,

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My cat, Zeus...

My cat, Zeus 5 years old, started vomiting, alot. Listless, depressed, not eating, trying to drink but vomits it right out. Vet wanted $450.00 to run tests. I barely have $4.50 left after bills. I started syringe feeding him Pedialyte and meat baby food (no onion or garlic) and saw one dingleberry on butt wit string. I gently pulled string until I felt resistance and clipped 4" off with 2" left. I continued with syringe feeding. He had barely pooped or peed in weeks. Can't afford vet. What else can I try. Please do NOT mention putting him down like my vet did when I couldn't afford to pay for their testing. ūüė†

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. This sounds like it might be serious. I'll let the Veterinarian know what's going on ASAP. Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Zeus?

He's not grooming, but his eyes are not sunken in and his abdomen isn't hard. He doesn't seem to be losing any more weight

Submitted: 7 months ago.Category: Cat Veterinary
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Answered in 24 minutes by:
1/3/2018
Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Meghan Denney, Cat Veterinarian replied 7 months ago
Dr. Meghan Denney
Dr. Meghan Denney, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1,984
Experience: Veterinarian at Kingsland Blvd Animal Clinic
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Hi, I am Dr. Denney. I am currently reviewing your post now. Please give me a few minutes to type my response. Thank you for trusting us with your question. This service is used for general information only and is no substitute for a veterinarian-patient relationship by examination.

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Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Meghan Denney, Cat Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

It sounds like your cat may have what is termed a linear foreign body ( the string).

Pets have the unfortunate tendency to eat things they shouldn't, and we aren't talking about food. Toys, socks, rocks and other materials find their way into pet stomachs but when the foreign body is a string, the consequences are especially dire.

Animals like to play with things and play often involves chewing. Chewing leads to accidental swallowing and from there potential disaster can ensue. Pets of any age will play with toys but it is generally the youngsters who get into trouble with foreign bodies. Common objects, or foreign bodies, that are swallowed include:

  • Strings
  • Balls
  • Toys
  • Leashes and collars
  • Plastic bags (especially if there has been food inside)
  • Pieces of shoes
  • Coins (pennies are especially dangerous)
  • Sewing needles

‚Äč‚ÄčThe list goes on. Playing escalates to chewing, which escalates to swallowing, or the object may be outright mistaken for food and swallowed. Often these objects will pass out the other end in a day or two, though it is possible for a small object to rattle around inside the stomach without passing for weeks. If the object does not pass and causes obstruction or partial obstruction, surgery will be needed to remove it. Prompt diagnosis allows for prompt removal of the foreign body before the bowel is badly damaged. In more advanced situations, sections of damaged bowel must be removed and in the worst possible scenario, the intestine breaks open and spills bacteria and digested food throughout the abdomen. This latter possibility is associated with very high mortality and is to be avoided at all costs.

The foreign body patient develops a poor appetite and vomiting fairly quickly. Listlessness comes soon after. Pain may be difficult to recognize and may simply appear as listlessness. The sooner the patient is evaluated by the doctor, the better.

The Linear Foreign Body is a Special Situation

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, there is an especially bad foreign body situation when the object is a string or similar linear structure. Common linear foreign bodies might include string or yarn (especially for kittens) or a towel or cloth leash where the fabric has not been completely chewed through and long threads are exposed.

The Drawstring Effect

Imagine a pair of drawstring pants or bag. Tie a knot in one end of the drawstring so that it cannot move and pull on the other end. The fabric wads up along the string channel. If the string is pulled hard enough and the knot still will not budge, the string will actually rip right through the string channel.

This is what happens in the linear foreign body scenario. The foreign body lodges somewhere in the GI tract and will not move. The strings, however, dangle forward in the GI tract like a drawstring. The intestine attempts to move them forward but because the foreign body is lodged, the bowel ends up inching up the strings similar to the drawstring channel on the pants. This type of folding upon itself is called “plication” and is the hallmark of the linear foreign body. If the foreign body is not removed, the strings will literally cut through the intestine leading to life-threatening peritonitis.

String under the Tongue

The first common linear foreign body scenario involves a loop of string wrapped around the base of the tongue. The pet is chewing on a wad of string, the string gets tangled and loops are formed, one of the loops lassos the tongue and the rest is swallowed. The bowel attempts to pass the wad of string but it only gets so far. The string around the tongue becomes taut and the stomach and bowel are sliced open by the tight string.

The usual victim of the tongue linear foreign body is a cat as cats commonly play with strings. Veterinarians check under the tongue for strings when examining vomiting patients. The string can be difficult to see, especially as many patients are not cooperative about this sort of examination, and the string may have embedded in the base of the tongue where it is not easy to see. Sedation may be needed to get a good look.

Stomach Foreign Body

The other area where linear foreign bodies lodge is the bottom (pylorus) of the stomach. The stomach has a large storage capacity but all of its contents must ultimately drain out of the pylorus. If a wad of cloth is too big to pass but long strings dangle forward from its main body, the intestine will pull at the string, plicating around the string, until the tight string simply cuts through.

Diagnosis of Linear Foreign Body

The linear foreign body is particularly difficult to diagnose. Strings are too small to see on radiographs and cloth does not show up on radiographs. Checking under the tongue for a string is important but not always possible, and even if a string is there it is not always visible. Frequently the only hint is evidence of plication on the radiograph or by ultrasound and even then the pattern is likely not going to be definitive. The decision to go to surgery is likely going to have to be made based on how sick the patient looks and innuendo from the radiographs.

Surgery

Because of the dire consequences of not doing surgery when it is needed (ie. the pet will diet from ruptured intestines which is incredibly painful ), it is often best to opt for surgery earlier rather than later in the evaluation process. The patient will need to be rehydrated from past vomiting prior to surgery and stabilized. After this exploration may proceed.

Most likely the foreign body will be obvious in the stomach and can be removed at least in part from the stomach directly. Hopefully, doing this will relieve the plication and the rest of the foreign body can be removed from an intestinal incision. If the bowel is damaged or even perforated, sections of bowel may require removal. After surgery, several days in the hospital may be needed for recovery. If there is going to be a problem with an intestinal incision, it is usually seen by the third day after surgery.

The linear foreign body surgery is generally considered a higher mortality situation than those of more simple foreign bodies.

In a study by Basher and Fowler published in Veterinary Surgery in 1987, 24 cats with tongue foreign bodies were examined. Approximately one third of them were able to avoid surgery by simply cutting the string under the tongue. With the release of the string tension, the rest of the string was able to pass uneventfully in these patients. If the cat did not show improved appetite and activity or continued to vomit/get more listless, then surgical exploration was performed. The point is that there is a fair chance that the expense and invasiveness of surgery may be avoided in some tongue foreign body patients.

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Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Meghan Denney, Cat Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

Keeping fluids going can help, but if there is string inside of intestines it will begin to cut through the intestines causing really awful consequences.

If you can apply for care credit to help get funds to treat him that could help save him if this is a string that is stuck. Even if we can just get him on IV fluids then that may give him a chance to pass this on his own.

I am so sorry your cat is ill. I know this is very tough to be in this situation.

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Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Meghan Denney, Cat Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

You can also look into low-cost veterinarians to try and get care for him. Sometimes shelters will also offer low-cost services.

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Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Meghan Denney, Cat Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

I hope this gives you the information you need to help you decide on how to proceed.

Good luck with your cat I will keep him in my prayers.

If this was helpful I would be most appreciative if you could take the time to rate my assistance so the site will credit me with helping you

Without a rating (the stars at the top) the site will not compensate me for helping you.

I am also here for additional questions you may have, just reach out to me here and I will be more than happy to assist you.

Kind regards,

Dr. Meghan Denney

This Content is not intended to be a substitute for a professional veterinary exam, diagnostics, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your attending veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition of a pet.

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Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Meghan Denney, Cat Veterinarian replied 7 months ago
Hi,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. Meghan Denney
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