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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bruce's Blue Ribbon

So cat #6 arrived in late May. I lost all will power when I went to the local pet superstore to purchase an item for work. It was to be a quick in and out trip but then I made my usual stop to see the cats in the back of the store. The local humane organization always has cats in the store available for adoption. I usually admire them, comment how cute they are and move on with a hopeful heart that they will all find a good home. So this time, there is this unbelievably handsome tuxedo cat trying to get my attention. Usually the cats look at you and yawn but this guy was working it. He knew the secret to get adopted: put on a show and impress the humans on the other side of the glass. Aside from his playful antics, he must have seen "sucker for black and whites" written across my forehead. His personality and his tuxedo got the best of me and the rest is history. Bruce became part of the clan.

Historically, the average age for cats in our house is high. I like old cats so I to gravitate to the elderly cats when adopting. Having a young cat who is a bit less than a year old, is a whole different story. Things you wouldn't normally worry about are suddenly on the radar which leads me to the point of my story. I went shopping about a week prior to our recent vacation for which I was already starting to have some travel anxiety (see previous post). I bought some clothes in a store that for whatever reason, decorates your shopping bags with ribbons. Three ribbons to be exact, all different colors and each about 18 inches long. I came home and threw the bags on the floor and I headed off to do some cleaning around the house. A few hours later, I took my purchases upstairs and noticed that a ribbon was missing. I knew for a fact there were 3 to begin with and now there were 2. I went looking for the ribbon and much to my dismay found a chewed up piece with only about 6 inches remaining. Holy crap, I'm a veterinarian and I let my cat have access to all those tempting ribbons.

Hopefully most cat owners know that ribbons/strings can be deadly to cats. Veterinarians refer to them as "linear foreign bodies." They swallow them and then the ribbon bunches up inside their intestines and causes them to become obstructed. If the animal is showing signs of obstruction they stop eating, start vomiting and will require surgical removal of the object. So, I had a dilemma on my hands. I didn't want to perform unnecessary surgery but I was pretty certain that Bruce ate the ribbon because never before have I had any issues with the other cats eating stringy stuff. I attempted to induce vomiting by giving him hydrogen peroxide which by the way, is not at all fun for the cat or the person. He didn't vomit so I decided to play the waiting game and hope that he would either vomit or poop it out. Now remember, I am going on vacation in less than 7 days so this was bad timing! So for 2 days I religiously watched him for signs of illness and the litter box. He ate great and felt good the whole time which was a good sign. On day 3 after the incident, he presented a nice stool sample in the litter box. So I put on the gloves and started digging....much to my relief there was a wadded up piece of blue ribbon buried in the poop. The great news was that Bruce would not need intestinal surgery 4 days before I left on vacation. The bad news was he didn't get a blue ribbon for having the best tuxedo.

So the moral of the story, even the professionals make mistakes and don't let your cat eat strings. Fortunately Bruce is doing great despite his close call. He continues to be a young curious cat but he gets in much less trouble now that the house is secure!

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