Another Night at the Emergency Hospital Presents Another Reason to Keep Your Cat Indoors


Yesterday was yet another busy shift at the emergency clinic. Thankfully, no cats paid the ultimate price for going outside. However, several cats suffered consequences linked to their outdoor lifestyles. Their owners’ bank accounts took huge and completely unnecessary hits as well. Sunday night treatment does not come cheap.

Yesterday we had a run of grass blades in the nose. Many cats enjoy chewing on grass. However, if they gag, cough or vomit as they are trying to swallow a blade of grass the plant matter can pass into the sinuses and lodge there.

Cats with grass blades in their noses most often sneeze violently. If the blade is lodged deeper in the sinuses and throat they may cough, gag, or make snorting noises.

Looking up a cat’s nose is a big pain in the end of the veterinarian that is opposite his nose. General anesthesia is required. In the absence of a rare and expensive instrument called a rhinoscope (very few non-specialists have access to this instrument), vets are forced to use awkward tools to work in a small space (the nasal passages and pharynx, or back of the throat). It can be very frustrating.

Three cats came to the hospital yesterday displaying symptoms of nasal or pharyngeal foreign bodies. By 11:00 pm, three grass blades had been removed successfully. One of the cats suffered severe swelling in the back of the throat, but I expect him to make a complete recovery within a few days.

The owners’ bank accounts, on the other hand, may take a month or two to get well.

Note: it is possible for indoor cats to suffer from nasal or pharyngeal foreign bodies after chewing on “kitty grass”. However, this is very uncommon. Also, kitty grass tends to be softer and much less irritating than most grasses encountered outdoors.

Addendum: yet another reason to keep your cat inside! Feline leukemia virus. The disease is essentially unheard of among indoor cats.

Photo: playing with fire! I hope the owners have saved their money.

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