Linear Foreign bodies in Cats..
Cats and Christmas Trees....like bees to nectar, they just can’t resist playing with the baubles, tinsel and lametta/tinsel strands. Cats do not generally eat anything they should not but when it comes to Christmas trees it seems that their common sense just goes out of the window. Cats just love long stringy things to play with which, when eaten, cause a very serious and potentially fatal situation, this issue is not only isolated to Christmas, quite often kitten have been playing with string, wool or even a needle and cotton resulting in a linear foreign body.
The ingested item can become tied around the tongue at one end while the rest of it continues into the digestive tract. It does not usually bunch up into a ball and will go through the stomach and intestine as a long thin item...this is known as a linear foreign body. The intestines bunch up around the foreign body and if not removed can cause the tissue to perforate (make holes in) causing sepsis (Invasion of bacteria into the blood stream/blood poisoning) and peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum; the tissues that line the inner wall of the abdomen).
Sometimes the end of the foreign body can be seen either at the mouth or the anus, it is very important for owners not to pull it out. Being a long item there is every chance that the other end of it is still within the digestive tract.
Signs your cat may have a linear foreign body:
* Excess salivation.
* Abdominal pain.
The object needs to be removed so surgery is the only option if your cat is showing clinical signs. It is really important to seek veterinary advice if your cat shows any of the above symptoms. Cats hide pain so any abnormality in their normal behaviour can be quite serious. If a cat does not eat for 3 or more days it can seriously affect their liver ultimately leading to liver failure. If you witness your cat eating tinsel/lametta you need to speak to your veterinary surgery. The course of action taken is not straight forward for many reasons so your vet must be consulted for advice.
Dogs are also known to eat long stringy things with the same consequences. I have concentrated on cats for this post as there is a higher incidence of this occurring in cats at Christmas.