Zachary is a very lucky cat. He is lucky to have owners who pay attention to how he is feeling and worry about him when he's not well.
I first met Zac about 10 days ago when his family brought him in because he had vomited his dinner and wasn't feeling quite himself. There wasn't anything terribly abnormal about his physical examination and so we took an x-ray, which looked normal as well. We gave him some medicine to help soothe his tummy and changed his diet to one that is more easily digestible. He seemed to do well with the change for about 5 days and then started vomiting again, and stopped eating his new food. The second time I examined Zac nothing was very different.
I was suspicious he had eaten something that was stuck in his intestine so we took another x-ray, but that didn't show anything either. So Zac's owners let me do a special type of x-ray called a barium series, in which 60ml (about 1/4 cup) of barium is put down his stomach with a special tube and then x-rays are taken as the barium moves through the intestines. The barium series didn't show an obstruction - if there was something in Zac's stomach or intestine that was blocking food the barium would stop moving at that point of the blockage. The test and x-ray were normal and so Zac was sent home with different food once more.
The x-ray shows nothing unusual ... the flow of Barium
shows movement throughout the intestines showing no blockage
Again, Zac did well for a few days but then stopped even drinking water. Yesterday when I saw Zachary he had lost 2 pounds from the first day and was a little dehydrated, and just didn't seem happy at all. We sent blood tests to the lab and when the results came back they didn't show any internal organ problem like kidney disease or other medical reasons for his vomiting and anorexia. Zac's family agreed to an exploratory surgery, as I was still convinced he had eaten something. I just couldn't explain why it didn't show up on any x-rays.
The toy mouse had been chewed open. The hollow
plastic frame of the mouse was still partially covered by fabric
Zac had his surgery this morning - and I found the hard plastic carcass of one of those furry mouse toys stuck very firmly in his small intestine. The plastic was so well wedged in there, that 2 areas of his intestine were nearly ready to tear. If we had waited one more day, Zac probably would have died. The toy mouse body didn't show up on the barium x-rays because it was hollow - so the barium went right through it! We had to remove about 3 inches of his small intestine but everything went really well and he is feeling much better now!
Zachary in recovery - not a happy cat... but still a very lucky cat
These little mouse toys seem to be a favorite for cats - they love to play and chew on them. If your cat is one that really likes to chew on them, then maybe consider a different toy for her. If you just have to let your cat have one of these toys, then I would suggest only having 1 out at a time, so you will know if it goes missing! If your cat has been to the vet (for any problem) and the problem doesn't seem to be going away - please be persistent! You could save your cat's life.