VET’S VIEW: Cat had grass stuck in its throat

MOLLY’S owner was distinctly worried. His cat has been coughing and retching all night and now seemed uninterested in eating her food, clearly out of character since she was quite a plump puss.

As if to make the point, Molly swallowed hard when I gently examined her neck, but despite her co-operation, there was nothing obviously wrong when we looked down her throat, so we decided to admit her for investigation.

A light sedative enabled us to probe a little deeper, and sure enough, when we lifted up Molly’s soft palate, there was a blade of grass, hooked onto the delicate tissue at the back of her nasal passage. With a little traction, we were able to remove it and Molly went back to catch up on some lost eating time.

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Owners are sometimes surprised that cats, which are, after all, carnivores, eat grass quite regularly.

Even experts don’t fully understand why, but it seems to help their digestive system eliminate fur balls, which then either pass through or are vomited back up. If you run common rye grass through your fingers you’ll find that it’s covered in minute spines which all point one way and it is these which cause the grass to stick at the back of the throat when the cat regurgitates it.

Of course, you can’t stop a cat from roaming and eating what it will, but it can help to plant some smoother, cat-friendly grass like Cocksfoot if your cat has a tendency to graze. This is particularly beneficial for house cats who might otherwise be tempted to chew your house plants, some of which can be toxic to them. You can readily buy kits from your garden store or pet shop as well as online.

Your human nearest-and-dearest may look askance if you present them with a tray of grass, but your cat will love you for it!