Warning about Cats and Kittens eating Foreign Bodies
Savannah Kittens of all generations are notorious chewers. They can rival any puppy and will usually display this behavior for their first 2 years and some even longer. They are drawn to plastics and chewy or rubbery things for a reason I can not fully understand myself. They will not only chew these things they will ingest them. We, at Belle Hollow, know of at least 2 of our own kittens, which have died as a result of eating foreign bodies. These things become lodged in the stomach or intestine and if not removed can cause a blockage or worse still an on going undiagnosed inflammation in the intestines. This chronic inflammation leads to a low-grade infection, which can cause severe damage to the liver and kidneys. The result can be Hepatitis or Sepsis. Symptoms include but are not limited to poor condition, on and off runny stools and or vomiting. If untreated the cat is left with a severally suppressed immune system making them susceptible to many kinds of other illness as well. Since many owners never necropsy their cat, I can only speculate that many, many savannahs that have died with liver or kidney failure, had the root of their illness in foreign bodies lodged in their stomach or intestine. Even if the material passes eventually the chronic infections from ingesting foreign materials repeatedly can over time retch havoc on the over all health of the cat. Many of these objects can not be seen on x-ray or ultra sound and are only discovered in exploratory surgery or worst of all at Necropsy of the dead cat.
PLEASE, supervise your kittens and cats. Do not allow them ANY ACCESS to plastic bags, strings (like threads from carpet or toys), Polyfill (stuffing from stuffed animals and bedding) or rope rugs. Any synthetic fiber that is spongy to touch including sponges and soft rubber toys are potential death for your kitten.
When you are not able to supervise your kitten/young cat be sure that he or she is in a cat safe room or play pen where none of these items are present. Consider using shredded paper or only natural fibers in your cat’s area. The more digestible the better. Anything that is a synthetic or plastic must be monitored as these things will not digest and can lead to a very sick or even dead Kitty.
The good news is that most cats will outgrow their desire to chew everything and eventually they will require less supervision. The bad news is that until they reach that stage it is up to you to be sure they do not ingest any of these materials.
If you suspect your cat has ingested a plastic or synthetic contact your vet immediately. Some vets will induce vomiting of it has just happened, depending on what the material may have been. Watch for symptoms, like runny stools of unknown origin, vomiting or general poor health, or condition. Any upset that lasts more than 2 days should be suspect. Tell your vet about any materials that you cat may have eaten and encourage ultra sound when in doubt. BUT remember many many things will not show on ultrasound so if illness persists exploratory surgery could be your last best hope to save you beloved pet. Many a sick cat have been saved when instead of finding cancer the vet found strings or plastic!