Foreign Object Blockage Almost Killed North Carolina Cat

This is the story of Betty, a sweet 2-year-old kitty rescued along with her sister Veronica from Chester Animal Control when they were less than a month old by Susan Schreck, founder of Saving Southern Kitties. Susan is well known in the Carolina cat community. Her rescues these days come mostly from Greenville County Animal Care, a kill shelter in Upstate South Carolina.

Photo of Betty back at home
Photo of Betty back at home
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Susan almost lost Betty last month to a freak accident and wants to share her experience to save other cat owners the heartache of what can happen when a cat gets a bit too nosy. Betty almost died of a foreign object blockage from something found (probably) in every home.

Susan Betty with feeding tube
Betty with feeding tube

The Story

Betty started out by vomiting clear fluids back on March 15. Other than throwing up and appearing unwell, Betty didn’t seem to be in much danger. Susan took her to her personal vet that day, where Betty was given fluids and a Cerenia injection and sent home. At this point Betty was displaying a mild fever.

The next day Betty was back at the clinic. Susan’s regular vet wasn’t available, so Betty was kept overnight. When x-rays were taken Friday, the vet noticed something that looked as though it would pass on out through her intestines. Betty was so upset she was sent home, with instructions given to Susan to syringe feed her and watch her for changes.

Susan Betty's X Ray
Betty’s X Ray

By Saturday Betty was no better. Susan texted her vet Saturday and Sunday and cared for Betty until the office opened up on Monday. By this time Betty was becoming lethargic and not eating. She also had a fever. Susan had her at the vet Monday for more tests.

A Barium study was done, where it was determined Betty had a blockage and surgery was needed to get that blockage out. Susan’s vet could perform the operation, but if something went wrong, it would be best for Betty to already be at a 24 hour emergency clinic. Betty was transferred March 23 to Charlotte Animal Referral & Emergency (CARE) Hospital in Charlotte, where she underwent emergency surgery at 1 a.m. Not only was something stuck in her intestines, something was stuck in her oesophagus as well. So a second surgery was performed soon after the first to remove that blockage.

The incision
The incision

It was touch and go with Betty for several days. Surgery of this type is delicate, and Betty had problems with her blood pressure, as well as a fever. Add a feeding tube on top of that, and you have a very unhappy cat. Betty was sedated to help her rest and heal faster. Unfortunately, we couldn’t sedate Susan, who worried constantly about her kitty (as we all would be in her position).

Betty came home March 30 after spending almost a week in ICU. She doesn’t like a feeding tube, but it will have to stay in until she’s eating enough on her own. Susan reported her appetite is coming back. Betty also doesn’t like to be alone, so Susan is having to stay very close to her little princess. Veronica is also glad to see her sister back at home.

The Cause

Part of the cause of Betty’s blockages turned out to be a pillow with ‘strings’ attached for decoration. The pillow had been in Susan’s home for years, but Betty found it and decided to eat it. Now Susan has learned there’s more than a pillow involved. If you turn over a recliner, couch or love seat, you’ll find a black material stretched across the bottom of it. Some box springs for the bed even have this material. What Susan found was more material that had been chewed on, so Betty had blockages from more than one item she decided to turn into a chew toy. All of that material has been ripped off of the furniture and trashed so another cat or dog isn’t injured.

Strings on the pillow
Strings on the pillow

Betty has more than $8,000 in vet expenses. Susan is handling those expenses since it’s her personal cat, but she could really use some help right now with rescue expenses. Many of the cats she pulls have ongoing medical needs. If you’d like to donate, click here. No donations will be used for Betty, but will take some of the stress off of Susan. Rescues are struggling because donations are down this year.

Susan underside of furniture
Underside of furniture

Please share this story with friends who love cats, with the hope it will save someone else the expense and heartache Susan has gone through over the past week. I’ve done a few articles about household dangers in the past, and have listed them below. The comments on some are better than the actual article in many instances. Feel free to add anything you think would save a cat or anything you’ve personally experienced with your own cat.

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Associated articles on household dangers to cats:

  1. Accidental ways to kill a cat
  2. Accidental ways to harm of kill your cat
  3. Hormone cream poising cats
  4. Reed diffusers can cause chemical burns in cats

5 thoughts on “Foreign Object Blockage Almost Killed North Carolina Cat”

  1. I ran into another danger over the weekend. When I go to bed I plug my phone charger in and place my cell phone on my bedside table. I got up Sunday morning and she had bitten the cord in half. She’s fine but she could have eaten the silver tip that plugs into the phone or even a portion of the charger cord if I hadn’t found it in time.

    • Nice one…yes, the home is full of unforeseen dangers. We have to be careful. It is also dangerous for humans! I think most accidents take place at home.

  2. Almost everything in a house has potential dangers, especially for cats who are very curious and will chew on just about anything that appeals to them. Tails and ears on cat toys are truly dangerous and stringy things must be out of reach, tucked into a closet or given away because stringy things are magnets for kitties. While it is virtually impossible to completely “cat-proof” homes to make them perfectly safe, it is up to us to “think like a cat” when viewing things around the house that hold potential lethal danger to them. Very informative article, Elisa Black Taylor.

    • Good comment Jo. There are some unforeseen dangers even for the best informed cat guardian. As you say in the house there are a multitude of potential dangers.


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