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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

He Really Did Get Something Stuck!

I had an interesting case today.  An otherwise normal cat came to me for coughing or vomiting a little, being a little lethargic, and swallowing a lot.  The owner thought that something was stuck in his throat and wanted us to check it out.  Now the large majority of the time when an owner thinks that something is caught in the throat it turns out to be something else.  However, I did notice that the cat was swallowing more than normal, especially after I felt his throat. Though he was a good cat, he wasn't letting me get a good look back in his throat, so we ended up sedating him to allow a better exam.

Once he was asleep I was able to be more thorough.  The main part of his mouth was normal, and there was nothing wrapped around his tongue (sometimes when a cat tries to swallow string, some will get caught around the base of the tongue, giving us an obvious clue).  I started looking down his throat and didn't see anything obvious.  Then as I was looking at his trachea, I caught a glimpse of something green.  He was moderately sedated, but awake enough to be moving slightly.  It took a few tries, but I finally got a good enough look at it to think it was a piece of grass peeking from behind the soft palate. I was finally able to get ahold of it with a pair of hemostats and started pulling.  I plucked a 4 inch (10cm) piece of rough grass from his pharynx! 

This happens occasionally in cats. They will be trying to swallow something and will breathe at the wrong time.  Part of that object (string, grass, etc.) will get sucked up behind the soft palate and make its way into the nasal passages.  That was the case with this cat.  Most of that length of grass had gotten up into his nasal passages!  It was too big for him to have inhaled it, so he must have swallowed wrong. 

There was a little bleeding from the nose and mouth as I pulled it out, but that quickly stopped.  The grass had small serations, and likely caused some trauma as it came out.  He went home with some antibiotics and a good prognosis.  And sometimes when an owner says that something is stuck in the throat, it actually is the case!