And now we wait…

7 Dec

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When your *best case* scenario relies on hoping for your cat to shit out three feet of Christmas ribbon, you know some poor choices have been made somewhere, by someone.

In my case, I can’t decide if I’m at fault for pulling out green curling ribbon when wrapping a birthday present for my friends’ baby. Or if Miss Moneypenny – who suddenly decided that curling ribbon looked DELICIOUS – is to blame.

Regardless, one minute I was sitting there listening the Christmas carols and wrapping a present. The next, I was online googling “cat ate ribbon” and finding that I probably needed to rush her to an emergency vet.

Nevermind that it was 9pm on a Saturday and it was pouring rain outside and I don’t have a car. And the vet is located up near Maryland. Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong – I did consider just riding it out and seeing what would happen. After all, Miss Moneypenny didn’t seem to be distressed. In fact, she seemed oddly sated – and newly obsessed with curling ribbon.

Let me back up.

After wrapping my friends’ baby’s gift, I decided it would look better with a wee bit of ribbon on it. So I pulled out a spool of thin green curling ribbon – ribbon that I’m pretty sure was out frequently last year during the holidays and that seemed to have escaped Miss Moneypenny’s notice at the time.

I cut a four foot section of ribbon and draped it over the back of my chair while I returned the spool to its drawer. When I turned around, the ribbon was on the floor, Miss Moneypenny was sitting on top of it, licking her lips – and only a foot of it remained. I was baffled.

“Did you just eat that?” I asked. By the way she attacked the remaining foot of ribbon, it was obvious that she had. If I hadn’t moved quickly, that last bit of ribbon would’ve been down her hatch as seamlessly as a snake swallowing a tiny mouse. (This, from a cat who is super picky about her REAL food.)

Immediately, I thought of my childhood friend’s dog, Toby, who had once eaten an entire spool of dental floss – all 25 yards of it. My friend’s family had returned home to find the plastic dispenser hanging out of his mouth, and were able to pull about three yards of it out before it seemed to stick on something. They took Toby to the vet, where a chunk of his intestines were removed. Apparently that’s common when an animal eats an excessive length of a linear object.

I did what everyone does when faced with the prospect of bundling up their animal for a weekend/late night ER trip. I a) posted a query on Facebook, hoping my cat-owning friends would tell me I was over-reacting and could just stay home, and b) googled to see if the wider internet community could offer some reassurance that cats regularly ate three feet of curling ribbon and lived to tell about it.

Sadly, on both counts the response was, “Better get to the vet.”

I made one last attempt at avoiding the vet by calling the emergency line and asking if I could just monitor Miss Moneypenny and bring her in if she seemed distressed? Answer: No, get thee to a vet.

So we did. Thank you, Uber, for making that relatively easy. And the animal hospital was surprisingly well-staffed at 10pm on a Saturday. There must’ve been at least a dozen people working, and they were all really friendly. Fortunately, it was also a quiet night, so there were only two other people in the waiting room: one was a woman whose Labradoodle was having an allergic reaction to his vaccines, and the other was a man whose two daschunds had gotten into a tin of pure cocoa and needed their stomachs pumped.

Explaining that my cat had just ingested 2-3 feet of curling ribbon made me feel like they might send us home with a Darwin Award.

Instead, they sent us home without treatment and instructions to just monitor her for lethargy, vomiting or any other evidence that the ribbon had created an intestinal blockage. (I’d like to point out that that was the plan I’d originally proposed, and which they’d shot down over the phone.) There’s a 50% chance she’ll be able to pass it on her own, and a 50% chance we’ll need to go back for emergency surgery.

“Was there nothing that could be done NOW?” I asked, hoping to head-off both the possibility of surgery and having to monitor her litterbox for evidence that it had passed. I also didn’t want this trip to the vet – which would end up costing $200 – to be in vain. “Can’t we pump her stomach and make her puke it up? Or do an endoscopy and retrieve it before it works into her intestines in the first place?”

Apparently the answer to both questions is, “Not unless you want to spend an even crazier amount of money” – at least at 10pm on a Saturday night when their Surgical Internist is home in bed.

So I packed up Miss Moneypenny and we returned home.

Side note: The Uber driver on our way home puzzled me. He seemed to really like animals and was awesome about letting me bring a cat into his cab, but had some questions that indicated a lack of familiarity with cats. To wit:

Driver: How often do you need to cut her hair? 

Me: Cats don’t really need haircuts.

Driver: I take my daughter to PetSmart to see cats get their hairs cut. But there are never any cats. Just dogs.

Me: Yeah, I don’t think cats ever really get their hair cut.

Driver: How long can their hair get though? Very long? 

Me: No, it stays a pretty set length. You know how they have a winter and a summer coat? Maybe they just lose all their fur frequently enough that that’s why we never see it grow past a certain length.

Driver: Do you shampoo her? 

Me: No. Cats do a good job of grooming themselves.

Driver: What does the groomer do then? Just cut their hairs? 


So now we’re home. I’m monitoring her. And while I certainly don’t want to return to the vet for emergency surgery, I can’t say I’m looking forward to seeing that three feet of ribbon resurface.

My friend Andrew reminded me that he had an equally distressing situation some years ago when his doberman ate a box of dryer sheets. How’d it work out? According to his roommate, who witnessed the entire thing: “He looked like a tissue dispenser for about 20 minutes.”

At least dryer sheets smell nice.

16 Responses to “And now we wait…”

  1. amyandspit December 7, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    I hope she is okay. Our Jalapeño ate a roll of curling ribbon and a bunch of candy wrappers last year (why, I have no idea) and ended up with surgery (at a hefty cost, I might add). He was already vomiting blood by the time we figured out anything was wrong as he had no leftovers so we didn’t know he had eaten anything. He came out of it fine, and with a little tummy tuck, which was nice. However, he did not learn his lesson and will come running at the sound of plastic rustling so we are nuts around here about keeping all wrappers out of reach and there is a strict NO RIBBON rule! Of course, just yesterday he dug in my trash can and got the paper armband I had gotten at a race to allow me to get a free beer and ate half of that before he was caught. Must have had some plastic coating on it. Sigh….

    Good luck!

    • pithypants December 7, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      Thanks! Is Jalapeño a cat or dog? That’s an awesome name. What possesses them to eat something with no nutritional value? It reminds me of people who compulsively eat their fingernails or hair. Nasty!

      • amyandspit December 15, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

        Jal is a cat. I have no clue but he is insane about plastic. We no longer have drawstring trash bags in our house because he’ll eat the red drawstring. Ugh.

  2. spaarolifantje December 7, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    Oh boy… Well, good luck. I hope your cat will one day soon decorate its litter box with three feet or ribbon.

    • pithypants December 7, 2014 at 9:52 am #

      Thanks. I’m hoping for more of a ticker tape parade, myself.

  3. Seasweetie December 7, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Oh dear. I’m so sorry. Miss Moneypenny is the smart one most of the time in the movies. Perhaps she just wanted to wrap some little presents for you. It’s so hard for cats to give wrapped gifts. I hope she feels better with no more expense except additional ribbon.

  4. dianeskitchentable December 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    Ah there’s something about curling ribbon that cats can’t resist. Our old cat ate his way through almost all of the curling ribbon on every package one Christmas morning and we had to stop using it. At least he had a very festive litter box for a while but was none the worse for wearing. Always looking for trouble though he did need and endoscopy one time after attacking my pin cushion. I had no idea what was wrong with him after I noticed him doing a low run/crawl then dropping down snapping at nothing. Took him to the vet and it was like when your car breaks down and although you know nothing about cars, you still lift the hood (like you’ll suddenly see a note that says ‘hose is gone’). When the vet ‘opened his hood’ though, there was a needle caught crosswise across his palate. Problem was that it was a needle and not a pin and I had no idea if there had been thread attached so they did an emergency surgery because I guess thread, being finer than curling ribbon can really cut off the intestine faster. After getting him back, he attached the pin cushion again – I guess it really pissed him off. So the pin cushions all went inside drawers. At least you’ve got some idea of how much ribbon you should be looking for…if you chose to measure the output.

    • pithypants December 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

      Your cat story gives us hope – thanks! And it’s a good reminder that I should keep my sewing stuff under lock and key unless I want MMP to become a cutter. What was your cat’s name? Just curious. By my count, MMP is on about her fourth life, and I don’t even know what she did in her first five years of life.

      • dianeskitchentable December 7, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

        Oh those pin cushions were too tempting but of course when he attacked them, he’d get a mouthful of pins which made him more mad. That cat was Riki Tiki…and he cost me $$$ bucks in scopes and infections from cat fights since he was an outdoor cat. Current cat is Moe and he’s cost me $$$$$ because he’s the guy who had his penis removed. He’s got issues with going in the car for his annual vet check but I can’t say that I blame him. BTW, that can driver of yours really wasn’t getting it was he?

  5. Lorna's Voice December 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    Ah the joys and financial heart (and bank account) break of pets! I do hope Miss Moneypenny gets through this or the ribbon gets through her without too much physical, emotional or financial distress on anyone’s part.

    That line about the dog looking like a tissue dispenser made me laugh out loud. Which end, though? 🙂

    • pithypants December 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

      Thanks for the well wishes. It’s awkward to hope that she looks like a clown-trick, but it beats surgery. As for the dog? Apparently he pooped them out – but each one required an “assist” from a human to get all the way out. Ugh.

      • Lorna's Voice December 7, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

        Yes, a tug of war with a ribbon is better than surgery. And I’ll never looks at another box of Puffs in the same way again! 😉

  6. Alicia December 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    Your conversation with the Uber driver is killing me.

    • pithypants December 7, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

      I didn’t even do it justice. Every time Miss Moneypenny would meow, he’d respond to her and ask if she was OK. Also? I couldn’t understand him that well, so at first I thought he was going to PetSmart to try to COLLECT hair to take home to see if his daughter had allergies.

  7. thesinglecell December 10, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    I don’t know how I missed this post. My cat used to eat all manner of things that were stringy… every time I threw floss in the trash, she somehow had a homing sense that would kick in and she would just KNOW I had thrown it in there and go looking for it. It wasn’t flavored or anything. She just KNEW. I don’t know how many times I had to pull a foot of floss out of her mouth before she really swallowed it. Hope everything “came out okay.”

    • pithypants December 15, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

      You know what your comment invokes? Gratitude that I don’t floss. And the start of a great excuse for when I visit the dentist next. (Hint: I don’t think he’ll be fooled because I’m pretty sure I need root canal…)

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