Keep your eye on the balls

“We have had three cats arrive in two weeks after ingesting similar sized balls. This sharp rise is unusual”, said Dr David Cunliffe, Head of Hospital at Lort Smith.

Merlin, a four-month-old black domestic short hair, arrived at Lort Smith after his appetite and energy levels had dramatically decreased over the course of several days.

“It was worrying when poor Merlin first arrived – he was very limp. We were not sure if he was going to make it,” said Amanda Doolan, Senior Animal Welfare Officer at the Lort Smith Adoption Centre.

Upon initial examination the accident and emergency team at Lort Smith could feel a thick blockage in Merlin’s intestine. Lort Smith vets proceeded with life-saving surgery to remove a small hard rubber ball from the feline.

“Merlin is one lucky cat. If he had been left in this state much longer the damage could have been fatal,” said Dr Cunliffe.

Cats who are admitted to Lort Smith Animal Hospital for this type of surgery have usually consumed items including dental floss, hair ties and aluminium foil. Marbles and other small hard balls are uncommon.

Lort Smith vets are not sure why there has been a sharp increase in these admissions, however, the message is simple: Cats need as much supervision with toys as their canine counterparts.

“Three in ten households own a cat, so we need the community to understand the importance of monitoring their toys,” said Dr Cunliffe. “Toys with small parts inside need to be closely monitored for signs of wear and tear. Also, toys that are small enough to swallow are not suitable”.

Post–surgery Merlin is now recovering in foster care before he heads to the Adoption Centre to find his forever family later this month.

“Merlin is beautiful and lively. It’s hard to imagine that he was that same cat who came in barely able to move due to the amount of pain he was in,” added Ms Doolan.

Lort Smith has covered all the costs of Merlin’s surgery and rehabilitation. As a not-for-profit animal hospital, the team relies on the very generous support of the community.

If you would like to contribute to the care of cats like Merlin, you can make a donation here. Alternatively, there are many other ways you can support our work.