Foreign Objects Stuck in the Throat in Cats

Esophageal Obstruction in Cats

Cats often swallow unusual things and are known for the odd range of objects they will swallow. When a cat ingests foreign material or foodstuffs that are too large to pass through the esophagus (the throat), the esophagus can become blocked. One of the objects commonly found in cats is thread, which may be of surprisingly long size or thickness. Unfortunately, because of cats' tendency to eat and swallow string, they may also swallow needles (i.e., sewing) that are attached to string. Esophageal foreign bodies cause mechanical blockage, swelling and death of the throat tissue.


Symptoms and Types


  • Retching
  • Gagging
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Excessive salivation, drooling
  • Regurgitation
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent gulping




Obstruction of the esophagus occurs with objects that are of a size, shape, or texture that will cause them to get stuck in the esophagus.




You will need to give a thorough history of your cat's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. You should describe anything your think your cat might have eaten that could have become lodged in its throat (e.g., bones, buttons, yarn, Easter grass or Christmas tinsel). Your veterinarian will do a physical exam, with an X-ray of the esophagus and chest. Another diagnostic tool that is useful for imaging is an esophagoscope, for seeing the interior of the esophagus. These imaging steps are crucial for making a concrete diagnosis and for making an accurate estimation of the exact place in the esophagus that is being affected, and of the degree of damage caused to your cat's esophagus. Standard tests will also include a chemical blood profile, complete blood count, urinalysis and an electrolyte panel. Usually, the bloodwork results will return as normal.


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