I am working on a lightweight technical article that targets new devs, but before I finish that I need to address something more serious. My cat, Rorschach, recently had surgery to remove a cat toy from his intestines. It was a bell attached to a cylindrical piece of plastic connected by 1 inch of string (a linked-list?). He's alive and well, but we're lucky.
It is my fault this happened and that's okay. This is a matter of fact. Sure, I feel guilty and awful, but I should! That's how we learn! I've had people tell me it's "not your fault" or "animals eat stupid things", but how can we learn if we push the blame to something or someone else? The point is: I had a failure as a cat dad and it won't happen again because I am taking responsibility for it.
How it all happened
It started a couple of weeks ago when I noticed him vomiting twice daily. (Despite popular belief, it is not normal for cats to vomit just the same as it's not normal for humans to vomit.) Once I noticed the vomit was only bile and he hadn't used his litter box, I knew he wasn't eating. Even worse, he was lethargic.
Vet visit #1
I scheduled a vet visit that afternoon. We ran some tests, but everything came back fine. We decided an X-ray was unnecessary at this point (spoiler alert: that was a mistake). Instead, we put him on a wet food diet alongside some laxatives to see what came about. Over the next week, he recovered! However, he suddenly became very lethargic and began hiding in his cat carrier (very strange for a cat that follows me everywhere). The vomiting returned and he refused to eat his wet food.
As it turned out, the toy was originally in his stomach (where it's less dangerous). My guess is that he recovered during the week because the wet food was easier on his stomach than the dry food. At least it was until it pushed the cat toy into his intestines (where it can cause serious damage) and he became extremely lethargic.
Vet visit #2
I was able to get a last-minute vet visit that day. The vet inspected him and listed off some terrifying diseases as possibilities, but suggested we do an X-ray and/or ultrasound to find out. After the X-ray, the vet hastily entered the room and told me "we have a diagnosis; he eats dumb things." It was strange for me to feel relieved, but this was the best diagnosis we could have had.
I looked at the X-ray and immediately recognized what he ate. Everything suddenly flooded into my head as I connected all the dots. I had given my cat an unsafe toy to play with unattended and he ate it. I did this to him. It's my fault.
The vet took Rorschach back for his surgery while I waited at home for the next 4 hours. I got the call that he was alive and well, but I needed to take him to the ER to be watched overnight. By the time I left the ER, it was midnight. I fell asleep with phone in hand waiting for them to call me to take him home.
He's back home and has a giant incision in his stomach. I have to give him pain meds and antibiotics every 6 hours (alternating between the meds). He's doing well, and I am so thankful.
Learn from my mistake, I know I will. You are 100% responsible for your pet.
- They will eat things they shouldn't.
- Vomiting is not normal.
- Look for decreases in energy level, food intake, or waste.
- Watch for other strange behaviors; it's difficult for our pets to communicate pain to us.