Choking and Gagging in Cats
Foreign Bodies in the Mouth
Foreign bodies that can lodge in the mouth include bone or wood splinters,
gristle, slivers of wood, sewing needles, pins, porcupine quills, fishhooks,
and plant awns. Some penetrate the lips, gums, and palate; others become caught
between the teeth or wedged across the roof of the mouth. Pieces of string can
become wrapped around the teeth and the tongue.
Suspect a foreign body when your cat paws at her mouth, rubs her mouth along
the floor, drools, gags, licks her lips, or holds her mouth open. Occasionally,
the only signs are loss of pep, bad breath, refusal to eat, and an ungroomed
Treatment: Sit under a good light source and gently open your cat’s mouth. A
good look may reveal the cause of the problem. It is possible to remove some
foreign bodies using tweezers. Others will require the cat to be under general
anesthesia-which requires a trip to the
Foreign bodies left in place for a day or longer may cause infection. A
broad-spectrum antibiotic is recommended for one week.