Cat Nearly Chokes to Death on Bones


I recently treated a cat who was in a bad way. The owner had known something was wrong with her cat for several days. The cat was outside and he wouldn’t come in. The owner couldn’t catch the cat initially, but finally he became so weak that he stood motionless in the back yard. The owner brought him to the emergency clinic.

Although he was very lethargic and dehydrated, he became extremely agitated when I tried to handle his face and mouth. Bloody saliva trailed from his lips. His breath was horrible. He was struggling to breathe. I suspected he had foreign matter lodged in his mouth or throat.

We administered a pain killer that also is a tranquilizer. Very basic blood work (a rapid panel called an iSTAT — this matter was too urgent to run full blood tests) was normal. We began to administer IV fluids, and then I gave a dose of propofol (an intravenous anesthetic). I finally was able to look in his mouth.

Several small bones were lodged in the back of the mouth. They were partially obstructing the airway and they had caused severe ulceration and infection on the palate (the roof of the mouth). Evidently the cat had found some person’s leftover picnic and had gotten himself in trouble.

I removed the bones one by one. Fortunately none had been aspirated into the windpipe–that would have led to very serious complications.

The cat spent the night in the hospital on IV fluids, IV antibiotics, and IV pain killers. He felt much better by morning, and he went home on antibiotics and pain killers.

Do I even need to say it? This cat’s suffering, and the financial hit the owners took, would not have occurred if he were not allowed outdoors.

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