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Cat Intestinal Blockage Surgery - Cost & Recovery

Cat Intestinal Blockage Surgery - Cost & Recovery

Cats love to get their paws on rubber bands, ribbons and strings. Unfortunately, they also sometimes eat these items, making intestinal blockage surgery for cats a surprisingly common necessity. Our vets in Farmington Hills explain this procedure, including cost and recovery factors.


How do intestinal blockages occur in cats?

An intestinal blockage is a severe condition in cats, typically caused by your kitty eating something indigestible such as a ribbon, the strong from a roast, or other small objects. That said, a blockage can also happen due to a hairball or clump of fur. 

Indigestible items swallowed by pets are classified as foreign bodies, and when they partially or completely block your furry companion's intestinal tract or bowel, they are not only painful but can become deadly. 

Types of Intestinal Blockages in Cats

There are 3 types of intestinal blockages that your cat may experience: complete, partial and linear. 

Complete Intestinal Blockage in Cats

When there is an obstruction that's totally blocking your cat's GI tract, this is called a complete blockage. This kind of blockage can happen anywhere along the GI tract, but is typically seen where sphincters (muscles that regulate the flow of material through the GI tract) are located, or in narrow sections. 

Signs of a complete intestinal blockage include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Uncharacteristic aggression or behavior 
  • Drooling
  • Appearance of partial item from the anus
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea

How can intestinal blockages in cats be prevented?

A complete intestinal blockage constitutes a medical emergency as it is a life-threatening condition. If you believe your cat has consumed something they shouldn't have, or if your cat is displaying any symptoms listed above, it's critical to see your vet right away. 

Partial Intestinal Blockage

A partial intestinal blockage will allow some materials to travel through your cat's intestines and may result in similar symptoms to those of a complete blockage. That said, your cat may have a partial blockage and show no symptoms at all, however, there is a risk that damage is occurring within your cat's GI tract such as open sores and tears that could lead to pain and infection. In some severe cases, sepsis can occur which is a serious medical condition that can quickly be fatal.

Linear Intestinal Blockage

Linear blockages can occur if your cat eats long thin objects such as string, tinsel or fishing line. These blockages can occur without any symptoms in the early stages. However, as your cat's GI tract struggles to move the object along over the coming days and weeks a bunching of the intestine or bowels can result. When this happens the intestines can lose oxygen causing permanent, serious damage. There is also a risk of the foreign item slicing through the wall of the intestine causing leakage into the abdomen.

Does my cat need surgery to treat an intestinal obstruction?

If your cat swallows an item they shouldn't take them to the vet immediately. Your vet will be able to do an ultrasound to confirm that the object has not passed through to the intestines yet and may be able to remove the object by inducing vomiting or using endoscopy, which is less invasive than intestinal blockage surgery. Never try to induce vomiting yourself without veterinary supervision.  

Intestinal blockages can be fatal for your cat. If your vet confirms that your cat has an intestinal blockage emergency surgery will be necessary to remove the blockage and in some cases tissue that has been damaged due to the blockage.

Will my cat be ok after intestinal blockage surgery?

Your cat's recovery after intestinal blockage surgery will depend upon the severity of the damage caused by the block. There is a relatively high risk of abdominal infection (peritonitis) following this surgery, so your vet may wish to keep your cat in hospital until the risk of infection is reduced and your cat is eating normally again.

In the days following your cat's surgery, your vet will monitor your cat's recovery closely for signs of infection and provide treatment right away. Peritonitis is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment. 

How much does intestinal blockage surgery for cats cost?

This surgery can be expensive, however, if you have pet insurance a portion or all of the cost may be covered.

The cost of a cat's surgery for an intestinal blockage can vary widely based on your location and the severity of your pet's condition. You can expect to pay anywhere from $800 up to $6000 or more. When it comes to quoting a price for cat intestinal blockage surgery, your vet will provide you with a more precise cost estimate when discussing the procedure with you. 

How can I prevent my cat from developing an intestinal obstruction?

It can be difficult to predict what your cat may suddenly decide looks appetizing, so it's essential to keep tempting items such as elastic bands, small hair ties, and especially the strings off of cuts of meat and chicken, well out of your cat's reach. It's also a very good idea to avoid the use of tinsel at Christmas time as these thin strands of sparkling plastic can easily cause issues for your cat's health if swallowed.

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

    Is your cat displaying signs of an intestinal blockage? Contact our vets in Farmington Hills right away to book an appointment for your feline companion.

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    (248) 615-6500