I have some pretty major issues surrounding the story “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” It is worse than “Rock-a-Bye Baby!” Saying that is a kids’ story is like saying The Grimms Brothers’ Fairy Tales are for kids. Who screens these things??
Recently, two seemingly unrelated and pretty routine (as far as my life goes) events occurred. One of my Very Favorite Kids asked me to read him a story in Sunday School. Later in the week, I did a pretty cool surgery.
Anyways, after my very small friend jumped off of my lap and ran to play with his Hot Wheels in the Super Cool Preschool Sunday School Room Fort, with a good thirty years before the horrors of the story we just shared really occur to him, I put my head down on the very small table and thought “Why? Why did she swallow a horse?” (She died, of course.)
So, to deal with the flood of childhood memories, I have come up with a happier version of the story. Also, it is true, and based on the aforementioned pretty cool surgery I did later in the week.
I know a young cat who swallowed a dime.
We removed it in time
When she swallowed that dime.
She’ll be fine.
Even in Real Life, foreign body* ingestion can be very dangerous and even fatal. Five possible outcomes to foreign body ingestion may occur:
- It will pass.
- It will be barfed.
- It will cause a partial obstruction that can cause sickness and may progress to a complete obstruction.
- It will get stuck and cause death.
- It will get stuck and be removed – usually by surgery or endoscopy.
(*foreign body = veterinary speak for “stuff that ought not be eaten” that may cause a blockage in the stomach or intestine. Toxins are another catagory of “stuff that ought not be eaten” and deserve their own post as they are also very dangerous.)
As with the old lady and the fly, I don’t know why Kitty swallowed the dime. It was more a Retriever Puppy sort of thing to do than a Cat thing to do. Cats tend to play with string and such and accidently swallow things that they are unable to spit out because of how their mouths and tongues work.
The dime became lodged in Kitty’s small intestine. Food was unable to pass and the dime caused considerable pain and vomiting. Without surgery, she would have died from lack of nutrition, or more likely, because the dime would have ulcerated through her intestinal wall, causing sepsis.
Such a cool surgery, but I hate foreign bodies because of the pain they cause and danger they pose. (No, not really because of the story. It is actually entertaining in a twisted sort of way.) Kitty is home and well. But how in the world does a person cat-proof an entire house, including making even spare change inaccessible, when cats can reach everything?? As complex as foreign body removal surgery and medication and aftercare can be…I think I had the easy end of that case.
Next up, an open and ongoing brainstorming list of every foreign body case we can collectively think of…Please add things your own pets have eaten and cases you have heard about or been involved with! I hope that if you have had to deal with this with your own pets, your stories have ended as well as Kitty’s did. And may you never (or never again) have to deal with a gastrointestinal foreign body with your own pet.
Stuff Pets Eat
fishing line attached to fishhooks
string attached to balloons
thread attached to needles
Australian palm fruit
stolen food scraps
fuzz from the bottom fabric under the couches
the plastic eyes from stuffed toys
bags of pet food with the bag
bags of pet treats with the bag
bright pink leotards
Polly Pocket shirts