Case Study: Jasper and the needle

Jasper, an 11 yr old, domestic long hair cat, recently “stitched up one of his 9 lives” when he swallowed a sewing needle with the thread attached. Cats can find household objects joined onto string irresistible playthings and unfortunately Jasper swallowed his new found toy.

The needle lodged into the hard palate on the upper side of inside his mouth. Radiographs were taken to see which structures had been penetrated by the needle. Removal of the needle required a general anaesthesia and the penetrating wound was able to be cleaned. Fortunately for Jasper the thread was still connected to the eye of the needle and was removed at the same time.

String, thread, fishing line, or wool if swallowed by a cat can cause sections of the intestinal tract to ”concertina” which can be fatal. Had Jasper swallowed the needle completely it may have pierced another section of his gastrointestinal tract and required surgery to remove and repair and management of medical complications such as infection from this injury.

Jasper made a rapid recovery and went home with his greatly relieved owners later that same day.

Cats are curious creatures and Jasper’s experience shows that ordinary household objects have the potential to cause great harm. Cat owner’s need to be aware of the risk that objects like this can pose if able to be accessed by their loved pet.