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General Health & Wellness

Mystery Solved: The Sparkle Ball

By February 6, 2024 No Comments

It’s not an uncommon question for a veterinarian to ask an owner “Is there anything he may have gotten into or eaten that he is not supposed to?” when a cat comes in with a sudden onset of vomiting, not eating well, and lethargy.  This especially holds true with a normally rambunctious, curious, young healthy cat.

So begins the case of Teddy Bear…

Teddy Bear Crum1Teddy came in to Cat Care Clinic for the first time when his owners knew something was just not right with him.  He had stopped eating, had vomited a few times, and was just laying around the house looking miserable.

In the clinic, Teddy grumbled a bit during his exam, but didn’t have the energy to put up a fight as he usually would with prior vets.  Even when his belly was felt, he just growled quietly, tensed up, and licked his lips as a sign of nausea.  Despite his owners not seeing him eat or chew on any toys at home, it was highly suspicious that he may have swallowed something he was not supposed to.

Further evaluation and tests ultimately made it obvious that there was an unidentified foreign object stuck in Teddy’s small intestines.  An abdominal ultrasound reflected this clearly.

The only option for Teddy, in his state, was immediate surgery.  We needed to find the object, remove it, and repair any damage that it may have made during its passage and blockage.  The damage done to his delicate intestines could not be known until inspection during surgery.  Teddy’s parents were willing to give him a chance and do whatever could be done to fix him.

Teddy’s surgery was extensive, but went well.  We came to find that he had swallowed a sparkle ball–a very common play toy for cats.  Unfortunately, the intestines at the area where the sparkle ball had lodged was very unhealthy.  Several inches of compressed tissue at the site would not be able to function again and survive as healthy intestine.  Teddy needed about six inches of intestines removed to be sure only healthy tissue remained and could heal.

Teddy recovered like a champ! With excellent post-operative care for the following weeks, he got back to his strong, confident self…..Teddy Bear.

Why do cats swallow things like string, pacifiers, sparkle balls, and others?  We can blame it on curiosity and naughty-ness….BUT they really can’t help it sometimes!  Anyone that has been licked by a cat knows that sand-papery feel of their dry tongue.  Their tongues are covered in small backward-facing hooks that assist with grooming, eating, and hunting.  This surface practically forces them to swallow things like strings and other objects when they get to a certain point in their mouth.  Never put is past any cat to swallow something.  Seek medical help if your cat is showing any similar signs to Teddy Bear.

Remember: Supervision is key.  Watch your cat when playing with small objects and only have large, safe objects available when you are not able to supervise.  And, if your cat truly has a compulsion or addiction to eating certain items or things, seek a veterinarian that can help with this serious, consuming problem.

If your own gut tells you something with your cat is “not right”, listen and seek veterinary help!