Choking and Gagging in Cats (cont.)

Foreign Bodies in the Mouth

Foreign bodies that can lodge in the mouth include bone or wood splinters, gristle, slivers of wood, sewing needles, pins, porcupine quills, fishhooks, and plant awns. Some penetrate the lips, gums, and palate; others become caught between the teeth or wedged across the roof of the mouth. Pieces of string can become wrapped around the teeth and the tongue.

Suspect a foreign body when your cat paws at her mouth, rubs her mouth along the floor, drools, gags, licks her lips, or holds her mouth open. Occasionally, the only signs are loss of pep, bad breath, refusal to eat, and an ungroomed appearance.

Treatment: Sit under a good light source and gently open your cat's mouth. A good look may reveal the cause of the problem. It is possible to remove some foreign bodies using tweezers. Others will require the cat to be under general anesthesia-which requires a trip to the veterinarian.

Foreign bodies left in place for a day or longer may cause infection. A broad-spectrum antibiotic is recommended for one week.

This article is excerpted from “ Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.