Hair Scare: Cat Needs Emergency Surgery After Swallowing Hair Bands

PDSA vets band together to fix hairy situation

A curious eighteen-month-old cat has been saved by PDSA vets after needing emergency surgery after swallowing a pile of hair bands.

Owner Charlene Edwards, 35 from Gillingham, first noticed a change in Irwin when he went off his food. After changing his diet and tempting him with tasty treats to no avail, she began to worry – with things taking a turn for the worse when Irwin began dramatically losing weight and became very lethargic.

Charlene took the mischievous moggie to his vet for a private consultation after becoming increasingly alarmed at the drastic changes. Irwin was given medication to try to help him recover and sent home for Charlene to keep a close eye on him. Sadly, Irwin continued to deteriorate, eventually refusing to drink as well. Finally, after Charlene tried to syringe water into his mouth, much to her surprise, he began vomiting hairbands.

Charlene said: “We knew Irwin needed urgent treatment, but finances were tight and we were worried we wouldn’t be able to afford the veterinary fees.

“Then I had a lightbulb moment and thought of PDSA. My mother had taken her cat there when she was struggling financially, so I contacted them and discovered I was eligible too”.

When Charlene called her local PDSA Pet Hospital in Gillingham, and informed them of Irwin’s condition, the team advised her to bring him in immediately for an emergency appointment.

PDSA Vet, Rebecca Lewis, said: “X-rays revealed that there were lots of hairbands in Irwin’s stomach and we were concerned they were causing an obstruction to his guts. This can be a life-threatening condition so he needed emergency surgery to remove them right away.

“After an intense operation, the hairbands were successfully removed, and Irwin was kept at the hospital to closely monitor his recovery.”

Help ensure PDSA can continue their vital work saving the UK’s most vulnerable pets by supporting them at: pdsa.org.uk

Unfortunately, Irwin wasn’t out of the woods yet. Though he was recovering well from his surgery, Irwin had developed a liver condition that cats are prone to if they suddenly stop eating. His life was once again in danger, and he needed intensive treatment and nursing care.

Irwin was hospitalised at PDSA for nearly a week, with a feeding tube inserted so the team could provide him with vital nutrients. Fortunately, thanks to the hard work and care of the Pet Hospital team, he slowly began to stabilise.

Once Irwin was well enough, he was allowed home to recover, and the Pet Hospital staff provided special training to his owners to allow them to feed Irwin through his feeding tube.

Charlene said, “We couldn’t believe Irwin had eaten my hairbands! It was the last thing I expected to be the problem when he was ill.

“We’re going to make sure from now on that all hairbands and anything else he could swallow are kept safely out of reach. It was heart-breaking for the family to see Irwin so poorly, but thanks to PDSA, he’s made a full recovery.”

“We’re so grateful PDSA were there for Irwin when we had nowhere else to turn.”

PDSA vets advise owners to store small household items that pets can get their paws, or tongues on – safely and securely out of their reach. If owners think their pet has eaten something they shouldn’t, they should call their local vet immediately for advice.

For more information and advice on what to do in an emergency, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/firstaid

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