X ray of Fizz’s full stomach
Late on Christmas Eve morning, a 9 month old kitten called Fizz was brought to the surgery because her owners were worried that she seemed to have a very swollen abdomen. Vet Suanne examined her, and felt a lump at the front of her abdomen.
All sorts of things can cause lumps, and in such a young kitten, none of them are good, so Suanne immediately admitted Fizz for emergency investigation. She passed the kitten over to her colleague Mandy for X rays, possibly with a view to surgery. Fizz was sedated straight away, and her abdomen was radiographed. What we saw was a little surprising.
Fizz had eaten a huge amount of something which was showing up as white material in her stomach, which was massively swollen as a result. We wondered whether it might be tinsel, since metal looks white on an X ray.
A hugely engorged stomach doesn’t really sound like a surgical emergency, but it very quickly becomes one if it is not dealt with. The stomach lies immediately behind the diaphragm – the muscle band between the chest and abdomen which holds all the organs in their correct place. If the stomach is massively full, the stomach muscle cannot contract, so the material inside cannot move backwards into the small intestine. It is only a matter of a very short time before the material starts to ferment and go rotten. Gas builds up in the stomach, putting pressure on the diaphragm, and making it that the animal can’t breathe.
This happens in a matter of a very few hours, so Fizz was immediately anaesthetised to perform an exploratory laparotomy. When her stomach was opened up, Mandy removed what looked like a full chicken carcase! Complete with string, and beans and peas. Not what we were expecting at all. She emptied the stomach and flushed out all the potentially toxic material.
Fizz on Christmas day!
We then had the dilemma of what to do over Christmas. We were closing at 4pm, and were not open for another 2 days, and although we could make arrangements for nurses to visit regularly to check on her, the surgery was risky enough that we did not feel that it was safe to leave her so soon after the procedure.
So Mandy took her home for Christmas. She has a hospitalisation cage in her spare bedroom which she occasionally uses for animals who are too poorly to leave. This way, she could be topped up with pain relieving drugs and antibiotics as soon as she needed them.
Fizz seemed to be doing very well, and her owners had commented that she was comfortable around dogs, so rather than leave her in the cage, Mandy and her husband Neil decided to see if she would settle in the living room.
Well, this kitten was absolutely bomb-proof! She spent the whole time stretched out on the sofa, cuddling the dogs toys, checking out Mandy’s dogs and cat, being fussed by grand-children, and not remotely bothered by any of the hustle and bustle around her.
Fizz went home to her owners on Friday. This is the best part of our job – sending a healthy, happy kitten home after such a huge, and dangerous procedure. Mind you, Mandy said she was sad to see her go!