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Patient: Oscar

September 20, 2022

Oscar and his 9 lives!
Oscar is an adorable young cat who has already been through more than his fair share of troubles. A severe dog attack left him needing intensive hospitalization and amputation of a back leg. Oscar recovered from this trauma and didn’t look back- until ….
One day, Oscar was vomiting lots, and not interested in eating. He was also uncomfortable when we felt his abdomen. Another stay in hospital, and some X-rays of the abdomen followed. The X-ray showed suspicious bunching of the intestines. Oscar was taken to surgery. We performed an exploratory laparotomy – where the abdomen is opened and explored – to give more information about the cause of his symptoms.
In surgery, we saw that Oscar’s small intestines were abnormally bunched up, and we could feel something within them, tracking all the way back to the stomach.
This is termed a linear foreign body- any long, thin non-food item such as string that is in the gastrointestinal tract. Linear foreign bodies are more commonly seen in cats, and have the potential to cause serious complications. If one end of the string becomes anchored (for example in the stomach) and the free end trails into the intestines, as the intestines attempt to move the string along, they will end up bunching themselves up (imagine holding one end of a drawstring on trackpants and pushing the material up along the string). This can lead to the string cutting into the delicate intestine, and cause peritonitis, which is life-threatening.
We were able to remove all the string by making small openings into the stomach and intestines to remove the string in sections. Luckily, Oscar’s intestines all still looked healthy.
Oscar recovered very well from surgery and was eating again the next day- what a trooper! We are hoping that from now on he won’t need to use any more of his 9 lives!!