Curiosity cures the cat: Wigram Vet

When Jasmine the usually active Bengal cat became quiet and lost her appetite, her owner took her to Wigram Vet to investigate. Clinic founder Dr Geoff Mehrtens tells Metropol his unexpected findings.



Bengal cats are intelligent and active with an amazing patterned coat. They make vocal, livewire pets who fetch – much like a Border Collie.

So, when Jasmine became quiet and withdrawn her owner, Rachel, knew something was wrong.

She brought Jasmine to us because her appetite declined and she occasionally swallowed as if nauseous. Vomiting sometimes, she sometimes ate normally, too.

As a veternarian, it is always challenging to investigate subtle changes in appetite and attitude. Do we go into full diagnostic mode when the patient is otherwise normal?

In Jasmine’s case, an initial examination gave us no clues except her excessive swallowing which is sometimes seen with pharyngitis and esophagitis. Jasmine hates oral medication, so nothing is easy with Jasmine.

Symptomatic treatment appeared to ease her discomfort initially, but two weeks later Jasmine was still mildly unwell and was beginning to lose weight.

Defecation was reduced but normal, and scans showed nothing significant.

A week later with no improvement and further weight loss – we were getting worried.

So, we used an endoscope to look at her pharynx, oesophagus and stomach lining. Everything looked fine.

While anesthetized, we took the opportunity to repeat x-rays and ultrasounds. Again, nothing untoward was noted.

Again, I felt her abdomen. What was that soft mass I could feel? It had a strange spherical roundness that I could not explain, was this the answer we had been searching for?

An ultrasound showed just a normal-looking gas shadow – but we had to find out.

An exploratory laparotomy revealed a smooth foam rubber foreign body had long defied our attempts at a diagnosis.

A small piece of rubber missing from the end of her favourite toy, it was the perfect size to gently block her intestine, and the bowel was still healthy as the foam was allowing some ingesta through.

Tricky, very tricky.



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