Petra likes string and string toys. This is important for the following story:
When Petra was around eight months old or so, she started making a noise that sounded like a duck quacking. Then, she started sneezing and acting like she maybe had a kitty cold, so we took her in to the vet. She went on a 10-day course of antibiotics, and got better. Then, a few days after going off the antibiotics, she got sick again. On: fine. Off: sick. The last time she was on 3 weeks of antibiotics and got sick within 2 days after going off. I finally bit the bullet, called the vet, and made an appointment for a few days later. In the two days between making the appointment and bringing her in, Petra got REALLY sick. Not eating or drinking, wheezing, sneezing, coughing/spitting up mucus and saliva. Really unhappy kitty. She sounded like Darth Vader all night and the things that had helped before, like putting her in the bathroom and running the shower on hot so the steam could clear her pipes, didn’t help anymore. I decided she couldn’t wait any longer and we took her in to the vet at 7:30 in the morning. Dan and I were both really worried that she had Feline AIDS or Feline Leukemia or something that was affecting her immune system. We were really scared.
They did X-rays. They did bloodwork.
The vet called me at 8:30 (while we were at breakfast) and said the X-ray showed that Petra had a NEEDLE AND THREAD loged in her windpipe (well, in the flesh around her windpipe). She had SWALLOWED A NEEDLE AND THREAD two months previously, and had been sick from the secondary infection of having a foreign body in her windpipe for two months. We figured that what had happened was we’d had the pincushion out from working on a couple of different sewing projects (each of us, at the time, was sewing something) and she’d probably seen thread dangling from the coffee table. She likely played with it, swallowed it, and the needle it was threaded through came along for the ride.
So he got the needle and thread out, and told me that he also thought she may have a bowel obstruction from more thread that could have traveled further down, and wanted to do exploratory surgery to find out what was causing it. I gave the go-ahead. He called me back and said it wasn’t thread (yay! no necrotic tissue! nothing unhealthy in her bowel!), but that she had a bunch of scar tissue that had kind of rerouted her bowel, back from when she had whatever accident caused her leg to get mangled (and the ultimate reason why she lost the leg). He fixed that up, so it wouldn’t cause her problems later, sewed her back up, and tells me she was resting comfortably and we could bring her home the next day.
Two months of antibiotics, having a needle removed from her windpipe, and exploratory surgery, was pretty darn expensive. But Petra was only 10 months old at that point, and it was worth every penny to have a healthy cat again. Plus, the vet tech was really excited to have a unique x-ray to bring in to show her class!
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When we brought the cats in for that exam two weeks ago, it had been a while since they’d seen the vet, and in the meantime he’d switched from one veterinary practice to another. The vet came in the room, asked who he was seeing, and we reminded him of Petra, who only had three legs, and who had once (more than five years before) swallowed a needle. “Oh, yes,” he said. “I could never forget that!”