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Cat Intestinal Blockage Surgery

Cat Intestinal Blockage Surgery

Cats are known for their love of playing with strings, ribbons, and rubber bands, which can provide hours of entertainment. However, this innocent activity can turn dangerous if cats ingest these items, leading to potentially life-threatening intestinal blockages. At Seattle, our vets understands the seriousness of this issue and is here to shed light on intestinal blockage surgery for cats. 

How do intestinal blockages happen in cats?

Intestinal blockage is a grave health concern that can afflict felines and is often triggered by the ingestion of indigestible objects like strings, ribbons, or other small items, and even hairballs or clumps of fur.

These objects, known as foreign bodies, can obstruct the intestinal tract or bowel, leading to severe pain and potentially fatal consequences for your furry friend. 

It's important to note that there are three types of intestinal blockages that your cat could experience: complete, partial, and linear.

Each type of blockage presents unique symptoms and requires immediate medical attention to alleviate the issue and prevent further complications.

Complete Intestinal Blockage in Cats

A complete blockage occurs when there is an obstruction causing a total blockage of your cat's GI tract. This type of blockage can occur anywhere along the GI tract but is most often seen where there are sphincters (muscles that regulate the flow of material through the GI tract) or narrow sections.

Signs of a complete intestinal blockage include:

  • Uncharacteristic behavior or aggression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of energy
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Drooling
  • The appearance of partial item from the anus

How can intestinal blockages in cats be prevented?

A complete intestinal blockage is a serious medical emergency that can be life-threatening for your cat. If you notice any symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, or abdominal pain, it is crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention. It is particularly important to act quickly if you suspect that your cat has ingested something they shouldn't have. Therefore, do not delay in contacting your vet or taking your cat to the nearest animal hospital. Remember, timely intervention can make all the difference in saving your feline friend's life.

Partial Intestinal Blockage

A partial intestinal blockage can be deceptive in cats as it can cause symptoms similar to those of a complete blockage. However, it's important to note that some cats may have a partial blockage without exhibiting any signs of discomfort. Nevertheless, this doesn't mean that your cat is not at risk of developing serious complications, such as open sores, tears, pain, or infection within the GI tract. If left untreated, a partial blockage can also lead to the development of sepsis, a severe and potentially fatal medical condition. Therefore, it's crucial to monitor your cat's behavior and seek veterinary attention if you notice any changes in their eating, drinking, or bowel movements.

Linear Intestinal Blockage

Linear blockages in cats can be caused by the ingestion of long and thin objects, including string, tinsel, or fishing line. The most concerning aspect of these blockages is that they can occur without any noticeable symptoms during the initial stages. As time goes on, your cat's GI tract will begin to struggle to move the object along, leading to the bunching of the intestine or bowels, which can result in serious and permanent damage due to the loss of oxygen. Additionally, there is a risk that the foreign object could cut through the wall of the intestine, leading to leakage into the abdomen. Therefore, it is important to keep a watchful eye on your cat's behavior and to seek veterinary attention immediately if you suspect that they have ingested a linear foreign body.

Does my cat need surgery to treat an intestinal obstruction?

It's crucial to seek immediate veterinary care if your cat ingests a non-food item. Your veterinarian can perform an ultrasound to determine if the item has passed into the intestines or not. In case the object is still in the stomach, your vet may induce vomiting or use endoscopy, which is a less invasive procedure than surgery for intestinal blockage. It's important to remember never to induce vomiting yourself without veterinary supervision. 

Intestinal blockages pose a severe threat to your cat's life. If your vet detects an intestinal blockage, emergency surgery may be required to remove the obstruction, and in some cases, damaged tissues as well. Therefore, acting quickly and seeking veterinary care is essential if your cat has swallowed any foreign object.

Will my cat be ok after intestinal blockage surgery?

After undergoing intestinal blockage surgery, the speed and quality of your cat's recovery hinge on the extent of damage caused by the blockage. Given the higher likelihood of abdominal infection (peritonitis) post-surgery, it is common practice for vets to closely observe and manage the recovery process until the risk of infection is mitigated and your cat resumes normal eating habits. As such, your cat's progress will be monitored with great attention to detect early signs of infection and provide immediate treatment, since peritonitis can pose a grave threat to your cat's life.

How much does intestinal blockage surgery for cats cost?

When it comes to pet surgeries, expenses can pile up quickly. Fortunately, if you have pet insurance, you may be able to save a substantial amount of money. The extent of coverage depends on the specifics of your policy, but it's possible that your insurance will cover part or all of the cost.

Be aware that surgical costs can fluctuate greatly depending on where you live and the complexity of your pet's medical issue. As such, you should expect to pay anywhere between $800 and $6000 or beyond. To get a more accurate estimate, consult with your veterinarian who can provide a tailored quote based on your pet's unique needs. 

How can I prevent my cat from developing an intestinal obstruction?

As a responsible pet owner, keeping a watchful eye on your feline friend's dietary habits is crucial. One of the most common concerns is their unpredictable penchant for nibbling on non-food items. This can lead to potentially dangerous situations, especially if your cat ingests hazardous materials such as elastic bands, small hair ties, or strings from cuts of meat and chicken.

To avoid any accidents, keeping these tempting items well out of reach is highly recommended. During the festive season, it's also advisable to steer clear of tinsel as the thin strands of sparkling plastic can pose a significant risk to your cat's health if ingested. By taking these precautions, you can ensure that your furry companion stays healthy and happy.

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

    If your cat is showing signs of an intestinal blockage contact our Seattle vets right away to speak to one of our veterinary professionals and book an appointment for your feline friend.

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