Cat owners will know that our feline pals absolutely love to play with hair bobbles, bits of string, and whatever other rubbish they can get their paws on – completely ignoring the fancy toys us humans stupidly paid loads of money for.
But it’s important to keep a close eye on your cat’s chosen playthings.
Learn from the case of Waffles, a five-year-old tabby who almost died after he sneakily ate a load of hair elastics and pieces of string, which formed a huge tangled mass in his stomach.
The indoor cat’s owners, Ryan Gallacher, 27, and Danielle Carlin, 26, noticed that Waffles was acting a bit out of sorts, so took the cat to the vets.
They were heartbroken when the vet suspected that their pet might have cancer – but then surgery revealed that the large mass in Waffles’ stomach was actually hairbands, string from cat toys, and yarn from his scratching post.
He was sent home and given a lampshade to wear with instructions not to let him jump around too much, but the couple noticed the stitches appeared to be swelling, and took the poorly cat back to the vets, where he was told to come back in a few days.
Hours later, Danielle was horrified to see the wound had opened up – leaving Waffles’ intestines hanging out.
The cat then had to be rushed back to the vets for a life-saving operation.
Ryan and Danielle didn’t have pet insurance as they thought Waffles would be low risk, because he doesn’t go outside.
His hairband habit ended up costing the couple £5,000 in healthcare.
Ryan said: ‘We never knew – it must have been going on for months.
‘The vet said he had never seen anything like it before.
‘Waffles has always been quite a sickly cat, he is constantly wanting to be fed, and we just thought he was eating too much food and would be sick but not bringing anything up.
‘We took him to the vets expecting to be told it was nothing, and the vet said he could feel something in his stomach and wanted to do a scan.
‘They found a mass and initially thought it was cancer and needed to be operated on immediately.
‘We brought him back the next day and the vet still didn’t know what it was, if it was going to be cancer – but the vet said it was hair bands.
‘Danielle had never noticed them disappearing, they weighed 100g.
‘The strangest thing was he ate the bits from dangly cat toys.
‘We thought we had a bargain for getting him for £40 but he’s ended up costing more than I’ve ever bought in my entire life.’
After the second operation, Waffles got his own onesie to stop him scratching at his wound and opening it back up again.
He also had to live in a cage for three weeks to stop him jumping around too much.
Thankfully, Waffles has now made a great recovery and is back playfighting with his brother Kevin – but dangly cat toys have been banned from the flat in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire.
Ryan said: ‘He’s all good now, we are paying off the second operation.
‘He’s all back to normal and fighting with his brother.
‘Any toys we get now will not have dangling bits on them and we would say to cat owners: “make sure you have pet insurance”.’
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