Grass - it's a problem for cats1st August 2017
At this time of year, we often see cats with grass lodged in the back of their throat or up their noses. Whilst exploring outside in the garden they occasionally chew grass to help with regurgitation which in itself isn’t a problem. The issue occurs if they gag on the grass and then retch it up into the back of the nose. If this happens the grass tends to get stuck in the nasal cavity and acts as a foreign body causing all sorts of problems.
What are the signs?
- Gagging – a cat with a foreign body in its nose or throat will make some odd ‘reverse-gagging’ or retching noises.
- Swallowing troubles – look for some odd swallowing behaviour, as if something is stuck in the back of their throat
- Sneezing – the grass blade will make a cat feel very uncomfortable and it will start sneezing. Often the sneezes are multiple and in rapid succession.
- Nasal discharge – at first you might notice a watery discharge. After a few days it can become yellow or green and occasionally has blood.
- Head-shaking – cats will often repetitively shake their head from side to side due to the irritation
- Nose or mouth pawing – in an attempt to claw at the irritation in the nose
- Nosebleeds – if you notice blood from the nose or throat, call us
- Frothy vomit or saliva from the mouth – if vomit is produced sometimes this may have grass blades in it too.
What do we do?
All our vets at Bollington Veterinary Centre are very experienced at dealing with grass blade foreign bodies. Occasionally we are able to see the grass peeking out of the nostril or lodged in the throat, in which case we can hold onto it with some forceps and slowly remove it. Unfortunately, though most of the time we need to use a sedative or anaesthetic to allow us access to the back of the throat.
Whilst the cat is anaesthetised we can pass a small endoscope to the back of the throat and look behind the soft palate into the back of the nose. This is where we’ll often find the grass blade hiding. If we do, we can carefully remove it.
In some instances, the grass is lodged in a completely inaccessible place in the nose or throat. In this situation, we might flush saline through the nose in the attempt to push out the grass.
Wow, that’s long…
It never ceases to amaze us at Bollington Veterinary Centre how long the grass blades can be. They are often over 10cm long! You'll be impressed if you see one.
If you have any worries then you should call us. There are other causes of sneezing and nasal discharge in cats, so it’s important we take a good look and investigate.