The danger of a blade of grass

Antonio65

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As we all know, all cats chew on grass, it's part of their nature.

I have two semi-feral cats in my yard, a girl about 6 yo, a boy about 3 yo, they are rather friendly and affectionate. Both have been fixed.
Early October, on the first Sunday of the month, I saw him off food, he wasn't as hungry as his usual, but because he roams in the neighborhood I thought he had eaten somewhere else. Same thing all day long, though, and at 9pm I saw him too lethargic. His ears were hot, so I pushed him in the carrier and ran to the clinic, where they found a tense abdomen and a temperature of 40.5°C (105°F). They decided to keep him at the clinic for the night. The next morning they ran an ultrasound scan and a complete blood panel. The results were of an ongoing infection, an enlarged lymph node and a reactive intestine. They held him two days, then the cat was released with a diagnosis of an enteritis, and came back home, with the advice to follow a Gastrointenstinal diet for a month. A follow up visit was due three weeks later.
Meanwhile the cat was feeling better, was eating fine and all was good, so I thought that the check up was just a routine visit.

Three weeks later, though, the ultrasound scan said the situation had worsened, the intestine was still reactive, and especially the lymph node had enlarged three times the size it had a month earlier, when it was larger than the usual already.
The vets were concerned and decided to hold him for a biopsy of the intestine and lymph node, but when they got into his abdomen saw that the enlarged lymph node was going to burst, and they found a fragment of a blade of grass in it, a thin and short blade of grass.

What had happened?
The cat had chewed on the grass, he swallowed it, a tiny blade of grass pierced through the intestine wall and made its path to the abdomen. The hole in the intestine wall repaired on its own right away, the blade started migrating through the abdomen until it got in the lymph node, where it was "phagocytezed" and attacked by the immune system, causing the lymph node to enlarge.
A few days too late and that lymph node would have burst and the cat would have died with septicemia.
The poor cat stayed at the clinic another night, then he came home with a 13 cm (5.12 in) long incision along his belly, and a total vet bill close to €1,000 (first two nights, scans and blood work, and surgery and following check ups)!

The surgeon who performed the operation said that in 40 years of service he had never seen anything like that.

Does any of you have heard of such an incident?

Ciocco 2020_10_29.jpg
 

oyster

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Oh my goodness! I often feed my indoor cats with cat grass but this makes me wary of that practice now. I hope your fur baby will be completely healed.
 
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Antonio65

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Oh my goodness! I often feed my indoor cats with cat grass but this makes me wary of that practice now. I hope your fur baby will be completely healed.
Well, I'm sorry, my post wasn't meant to scare others, just to ask if anybody else had heard of a similar story.
 

LTS3

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Was this grass specifically for cats (usually barley or oat or rye) or common lawn grass? Lawn grass is of various species that have more of a sharp shape but I doubt it's sharp enough to pierce through internal organs. Maybe this could just be a random freak incident with your cat?
 

di and bob

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I have NEVER heard of this! What a scary incident. I don't know how those vets figured it out, and wonder how many cats died without being found to have this? I think you are extremely blessed to have found out what the problem was before something fatal happened, give that little one a kiss from me!
 
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Antonio65

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Was this grass specifically for cats (usually barley or oat or rye) or common lawn grass? Lawn grass is of various species that have more of a sharp shape but I doubt it's sharp enough to pierce through internal organs. Maybe this could just be a random freak incident with your cat?
I think it was common lawn grass or open field grass, definitely not cat grass.
The vet said it wasn't a hard or thick grass, just a common thin and soft grass. Yes, it has been a random, uncommon, incident, nothing that the surgeon had ever heard of or seen before, at least in his experience. That's why I was asking around, to see if around the world something like this had been seen before.
 
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Antonio65

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I have NEVER heard of this! What a scary incident. I don't know how those vets figured it out, and wonder how many cats died without being found to have this? I think you are extremely blessed to have found out what the problem was before something fatal happened, give that little one a kiss from me!
I asked vet the same thing, who knows how many cats died from this without knowing it. The vet just saw this very big lymph node, he said (and I saw it in the ultrasound scan) it was 3.5 cm (1.37 in) in diameter, so when they incised it to let the fluids in it flow, they found this weird thing, they analyzed it and saw it was a blade of grass. They couldn't believe it.

My vet said he shouldn't be surprised with me anymore, because in the last four years I took to their clinic so many rare, uncommon, unusual and weird cases that no vets would see in their entire life. And they all came from the same household.

I'll give him a kis from you, thank you! :hugs:
 

FeebysOwner

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Wow! Never heard of anything like that! I was wondering if the condition of the 'grass' was digested enough by the time it was found that it really wasn't typical grass at all. In other words, it had decomposed and softened enough with digestive juices to look like regular grass.

There are plants in my area, such as the segments of a sago palm frond that are very sharp, but I would imagine by the time they would be semi-digested they wouldn't be so sharp. In my mind, they could easily be mistaken for a blade of grass given their size. I'd tell you to look around your yard for similar plants, but given he 'travels' to other homes, it could be anywhere.

Glad he is OK now! Poor baby.
 

fionasmom

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What a story and I hope your poor cat recovers successfully. I have fed cat grass for years...the special cat grass that you buy only for them and have never had that happen but I would certainly not rule out these strange outlying things that can occur. I also wonder if it is a specific type of outdoor grass that caused this...nothing that you can control.
 
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Antonio65

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Wow! Never heard of anything like that! I was wondering if the condition of the 'grass' was digested enough by the time it was found that it really wasn't typical grass at all. In other words, it had decomposed and softened enough with digestive juices to look like regular grass.
The vet said it was regular grass and looked undigested, as it had gone through the stomach to the intestine untouched by the digestive jiuces. Weird!

There are plants in my area, such as the segments of a sago palm frond that are very sharp, but I would imagine by the time they would be semi-digested they wouldn't be so sharp. In my mind, they could easily be mistaken for a blade of grass given their size. I'd tell you to look around your yard for similar plants, but given he 'travels' to other homes, it could be anywhere.
Well, actually it might be really anything, especially because I haven't see that blade of grass myself, I would have liked to save it, but I think they just threw it away.
Of course around my home there are hundreds of different grass and vegetation. One of the neighbors has two palms in his garden, but they're very tall. A leaf might have fallen, though, and the cat chew it.
We will never know what happened!

Glad he is OK now! Poor baby.
Yes he is, thank you :hugs:
 
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Antonio65

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What a story and I hope your poor cat recovers successfully. I have fed cat grass for years...the special cat grass that you buy only for them and have never had that happen but I would certainly not rule out these strange outlying things that can occur. I also wonder if it is a specific type of outdoor grass that caused this...nothing that you can control.
Actually no, when cats are free to roam, they can ingest just anything... unfortunately...

He's recovering fine, I'd say he's fully recovered now, apart from the scar of the incision that will take a bit to heal and disappear under the fur again.
What this experience has left behind, though, is that this kitty is less trustful, he tends to step back from me because he fears I might grab and trap him again, or that I am going to shove some med down his throat.
He gained lots of trust in me during the long months of lockdown, when I was around home all day long.
 

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The trust will come back. I have trapped ferals and taken them to the vet. Just trapped one today. They will realize you don't mean harm although with some, it takes a while.
 

fionasmom

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My current GSD, on his first day as a puppy at my house, walked outside in the yard and inhaled the only foxtail which was probably there. I have been vigilant about those ever since.

The cat will regain trust. More important that we try to take care of them if we can than worry about upsetting them and not providing care.
 
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