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What is Foreign Objects Stuck in the Throat?

You may hear your veterinarian call a foreign body stuck in your cat's throat an esophageal obstruction, gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction, pharyngeal obstruction or airway obstruction. All of these terms simply mean your cat has swallowed an object that is too large to pass through the GI tract or has become trapped in the respiratory tract.

Cats inspect the world around them with their tongues and mouths. This habit can sometimes get your feline friend into trouble and threaten her health. Sometimes a cat eats an object that is too large to pass through her upper digestive tract, namely her esophagus. These foreign bodies can become lodged in the esophagus or airway, obstructing digestion or airflow. A foreign body can also cause inflammation or injury to the esophagus or airway, leading to pain and discomfort. If you fear your cat has a foreign object trapped in the throat, visit a veterinarian right away. Depending on the size and location of the object, an esophageal or pharyngeal blockage is a life-threatening condition. 

Foreign Objects Stuck in the Throat Average Cost

From 341 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,000

Average Cost

$1,000

Symptoms of Foreign Objects Stuck in the Throat in Cats

Cats with foreign bodies lodged in their throats will behave differently depending on whether the airway or esophagus is blocked. A cat with an esophageal obstruction may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Hypersalivation
  • Gagging
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Regurgitation
  • Attempts at swallowing

If your cat's esophagus is only partially obstructed, the signs may be less noticeable. Symptoms of partial esophageal obstruction in cats include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Inflammation or infection of the esophagus
  • Pneumonia

A cat with an obstructed airway might exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Breathing loudly
  • Choking
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Causes of Foreign Objects Stuck in the Throat in Cats

Typically, a cat suffering from this type of obstruction has purposefully licked, swallowed or otherwise ingested the foreign body. You may even have seen your cat swallow the offending object. Some toys, especially yarn or string, can be swallowed by your cat during playtime. Food may also obstruct your cat's airway if she eats too quickly or fails to chew properly. Only diagnostic procedures performed by your veterinarian are sufficient to determine what type of foreign body has become stuck in your cat's throat. 

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Diagnosis of Foreign Objects Stuck in the Throat in Cats

Your veterinarian will need to perform chest and neck x-rays in order to diagnose your cat's partial or complete obstruction. Signs that the object is obstructing the lower respiratory tract, such as coughing or trouble breathing, will lead a veterinarian to x-ray your cat's chest. If your veterinarian suspects the upper respiratory tract and upper airways are obstructed, he or she may use a scope as part of the physical examination. These tools make it easier for your veterinarian locate the foreign body. 

Foreign bodies lodged in the GI tract are usually visible with a typical head or chest x-ray. If your veterinarian cannot locate the foreign body on an x-ray, he or she may perform a contrast esophagram, where your cat swallows a radioactive dye to assist with imaging. An esophagoscopy, whereby your veterinarian will feed a scope, or camera, down your sedated cat's esophagus to visualize the foreign body, may be performed. A scope can also be used to examine any esophageal tearing or irritation caused by the foreign body. 

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Treatment of Foreign Objects Stuck in the Throat in Cats

Your veterinarian's first priority when treating a foreign object stuck in the throat of your cat will be to retrieve the object as soon as possible. If the foreign body is trapped in the upper esophagus or upper respiratory tract, it can be removed through the mouth using endoscopy and forceps or using a balloon catheter, depending on its shape and size. If the foreign body is particularly dangerous or sharp, an endogastric tube can be fed through your cat’s mouth to shield the esophagus while the foreign body is retrieved. 

If it is too dangerous or difficult to remove the foreign body through your cat's mouth, your veterinarian may choose to push the object into her stomach where it can pass through the remaining GI tract safely. An airway obstruction can also be encouraged to dislodge itself with flushing of the respiratory tract with lubricating secretions. If none of these retrieval methods are appropriate, your cat may require surgery to remove the foreign body. This surgery is fairly common and generally safe, with a 93% recovery rate. 

If your cat's esophagus has been injured or inflamed by the foreign body, treatment of the esophagitis, or irritation, may be required. Anti-inflammatory and pain medications can relieve discomfort while your cat heals. 

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Recovery of Foreign Objects Stuck in the Throat in Cats

Once the foreign body is removed, cats generally recover quickly. Still, it is important to schedule a follow-up appointment with your veterinarian to ensure your cat is not suffering from esophagitis, pain, or infection. Injury and irritation diagnosed at follow up may require medication or other treatments. If persistent, you may need to provide your cat with a diet of softer foods and small, frequent meals to calm irritation. Depending on the severity of the abrasions, antibiotics may be required to prevent infection of the damaged tissue. 

As previously mentioned, the rate of recovery following one of these obstructions is high and requires little ongoing management beyond close supervision of your cat's eating habits. 

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Foreign Objects Stuck in the Throat Average Cost

From 341 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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Foreign Objects Stuck in the Throat Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Short hair cat

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7 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Won'T Eat

My cat doesn't want to eat acts like something is in his throat and has diariha.

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that your kitten is not feeling good. Young cats are very prone to eating things that they're not supposed to, and they can develop foreign bodies or intestinal infections. If your cat is not eating, and is having diarrhea, having himm seen by a veterinarian would be the best thing to do for him. They will be able to examine him, see what might be causing this problem, and let you know what treatment might need to happen for him. I hope that he is okay.

Sept. 30, 2020

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Maine Coon

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hoarse Meow

My indoor/outdoor four year old male Maine Coon has been chasing and killing chipmunks, moles, birds and rabbits. (Please no judgement about this, it’s what he does instinctually) He brought a chipmunk home last night. Normally he’s a very vocal cat but this morning his meows are very raspy, almost like he’s hoarse. I’m concerned and trying to decide if he needs to be seen by a vet.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I am sorry for the delay, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. If he was injured by the chipmunk, he may need medical attention. If he is acting normally, bright and happy, and eating normally, you may be fine to monitor him for a day or two, and if his meow is still raspy, then have him seen by a veterinarian.

Oct. 10, 2020

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Tabby Cat

dog-age-icon

Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Something Possible Tuck In Throat, Keeps Coughing

Yesterday my cat was eating some grass and suddenly he went he went through the motions of sick but nothing came out. Since then he has been coughing slightly almost like he has something stuck in his throat. He is r and drinking fine but something is irritating him and he seems to be trying to clear his throat/small coughs

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. He may have had something stuck in his throat, but asthma and heartworm disease can cause those signs as well. If he is still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 19, 2020

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Persian

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4months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Spine Stuck In Throat

Please help

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Grey tiger cat

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Has A Bur From His Fur Stuck In Throat

Our house cat goes outside sometimes and gets burs stuck in his fur. It seems he got one stuck in this throat and coughs a few times an hour to try to get it out. It has been about 12 hours of this cough. Does he need to see a vet? He is otherwise eating and drinking just fine b

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I do think that it would be best to have your cat seen by a veterinarian, yes. Coughing for that long could be a problem for him, and there may be something else going on besides one of the burrs in his throat. Your veterinarian will be able to examine him and see what might be going on, and suggest treatment for him. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Mr.Rogers

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tabby

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4 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Silent Meow
Breathing Loud

Does my new kitten have food stuck in his throat? I noticed when I gave him dry kibble yesterday he seemed to swallow it whole and choke it down. He ate well yesterday (with wet food) but barely ate anything today. His meow is silent and he is breathing loudly. Do I need to worry? The one bright note is that when I gave him chicken cold cuts, he wolfed them down with no trouble - but I still feel like he is off.

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Gracie

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Blue Russian cat

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Vomiting, Weight Loss.

I have taken our cat Gracie to see a vet. She has been vomiting up her undigested dry cat food for a while now. We changed her over to can cat food and she still is vomiting and losing weight. We had x-rays taken and it showed something massive that he thought could be hair balls because he said it wasn't connected to her inner walls that we should give her hairball solutions and nothing has worked. What should I ask for next. Thank you

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Sammy

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Calico

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing
Wheezing

My cat has what I think to be food stuck in her throat. She is wheezing and coughing and looks like she’s trying to throw it up but can’t. It happens every 10 minutes or so. What can I do?

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Ruso

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Indian

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Difficulty Swallowing

Didn't realise for more than a day that my cat had a fish bone stuck in his throat. Got it immediately removed from a vet. He was sedate and got on with his doings in about 4-5hours. However he is having immense difficulties in swallowing food still. Don't know if it is inflammation or still a chip of bone stuck. I remember the vet assuring me that there wasn't another bone and that they cleared the passageway.

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Echo

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Shorthair

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Drooling
Swallowing
Dazed,
Overly Affectiona

hi! my cat only recently started acting a bit off. nothing too serious, but she's being very affectionate when normally she only rubs on me a bit. she's also drooling a little, and she seems like she's struggling to swallow. she also looks almost dazed? she looks around unfocusedly.

Foreign Objects Stuck in the Throat Average Cost

From 341 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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