Garfield was, as you would expect, a rotund, long haired ginger cat. When he was lifted out of his basket in my consulting room, he had a brief scan around the room then dropped his head flat on the table and sighed.
Garfield’s owner explained that he had been like that all day. The previous day, he had been full of mischief. His owners had been attempting to put up their Christmas decorations and Garfield had been doing his best to thwart them by climbing into boxes and, getting tangled in the fairy lights, and running off with the tinsel.
Most worrying of all, Garfield had declined food. Garfield had never, ever been known to decline food but by the time Garfield slumped onto the Consulting room table, he had missed his dinner and his breakfast.
Through a combination of dense haircoat and years of excess, I must admit that I couldn’t feel any abnormalities in his abdomen but when I felt in the front of the abdomen, he gave out a tell tale grunt.
After some discussion, Garfield was admitted for an ultrasound scan.
As the nurses clipped some fur on his abdomen and applied the ultrasound gel to his abdomen, he watched passively with his doleful eyes.
The scan revealed a long, thin, dense area of tissue extending through his abdomen and my fears were confirmed – Garfield had swallowed something which was blocking his intestine.
After a telephone conversation with his owner, Garfield was anaesthetised and a surgical approach was made into his abdomen. The abnormal loop of intestine was located, extending from his stomach down the digestive tract. An incision was made in his intestine and sure enough, the gold sparkle confirmed a length of tinsel!
One end of the tinsel had become stuck in the stomach while the loose end had passed down the small intestine. The intestine had then concertinaed up the strand of tinsel which had “cheese wired” through the intestine at various points.
We call this type of problem a linear foreign body and unlike a stone or a bone where the damage to the intestine tends to be localised, with a linear foreign body, the damage can be extensive.
Garfield had a 25cm long portion of intestine that was damaged and had to be removed but within 24 hours of the surgery we could tell he was feeling better because, true to form…….. he started eating.