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Dr. Drew
Dr. Drew, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 16846
Experience:  Small Animal Medicine and Surgery
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How long does something take to pass through a

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How long does something take to pass through a cat''s digestive system? We think ours swallowed a long piece of fabric from a toy last Monday. He was normal until Saturday. Then he vomitted a large volume and was lethargic. Sunday night he was back to normal. He hasn''t deficated since Saturday. Nothing unusual in his stool. There were some short pieces of yarn from another toy in his vomit. Since he is acting normal (very active, eating well, cold nose), should we be worried? Thank you in advance for your reply.
If he is eating well, and not vomiting, I wouldn't be too concerned just yet -- but as you realize, cats that eat foreign materials (especially yarn or string) can be at serious risk for intestinal obstruction or even perforation (tearing of the intestine).

To help the remaining bits pass, if they are in the colon, you can try adding a tiny bit of mineral oil (1/2 teaspoon or so) into some canned food, to try to act as a laxative. I would never recommend this if he was vomiting, because of the risk of aspiration of oil into the lungs, but if there's a normal appetite and no vomiting, it should be safe. If you notice ANY decrease in his well-being, or appetite, then you will need to have your veterinarian examine him and take an x-ray of his abdomen.

I have seen bits of foreign materials including sections of string and rope take up to a week and a half to fully pass through a cat's intestinal tract.

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