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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!


  1. That was a strange one! I was thinking @ first he had a mouse stuck in his throat!! LOL

  2. Very cool. I love instant gratification like that. I did have a dog that got a bone caught in his esophagus. Took us awhile to figure out why he was not feeling well. Finally shot a chest film out of frustration and there it was!

  3. This happened to my cat about a year ago. After our vet looked into his throat and saw nothing, I took my cat home. Two days later while he made a bunch of noises (coughing, sneezing, gagging) I saw a piece of grass starting to exit my cats nose! I got a hold of it and it was the same type of grass. About 4 inches long with rough edges.

    Today I'm looking around the internet to see if there is more news about this type of problem, because it seems as though it has happened to him again! I hope it works its way out soon, or off to the vet we go.

  4. Same thing happened to our kitten on weekend. Lucky we had vet who was on to it and knew waht it was straight away. 12 cm piece of grass later... rather large for small Burmese.

  5. My cat swallowed something and now can't breath when she purrs. She has been to the vet three times in two days with several tests and x-rays before I was referred to a vet who can scope her. I explained she tried to throw something up and gagged at 3:30 AM. When she started purring she couldn't breath. I took her to an emergency vet by 4AM. She was fine because she wasn't purring. Next day, she purred and couldn't breath. Took her to the vet and they did blood work and sent us home. This time I video taped the episode and sent it to the vet. I told them I wanted another appointment. It wasn't until the x-rays and the blood work came back that they gave me a referral to scope her. They didn't have the equipment available. This is all I wanted to begin with. Frustrating our cat had to suffer 3 days. I hope this is resolved.

  6. I having this problem, I really need advice. My cats was choking on cat treats, an hour later he was sneezing blood. I rushed him to the emergency vet because it was after hours, the vet said my cat has a tumor without an xray! I am so upset, he has been barely breathing all night not getting enough oxigen. I would like to speak to you, Dr. Bern. I will send you an email, if you can please respond, I would surely appreciate it. or someone respond and give their opinion.

  7. Joy, there is no way that I could properly advise you without seeing your cat in my office. I would get more details from the emergency vet and follow up with a visit to your regular vet.


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