Vet said it was actually like finding a ‘needle in a hay stack’
A cat has been saved by vets after swallowing a two-inch needle and thread – and it didn’t even need stitches.
Lulu the Ragdoll gobbled up the needle after owner Jane Brigham-Curtis left it on the windowsill to answer the phone.
But after hanging up, Jane – of Westoning – noticed the needle was missing and Lulu was standing nearby so she immediately leapt into action.
She rushed her one-year-old moggy to an out-of-hours emergency vet who carried out an X-ray which revealed the needle was indeed lodged in her gut.
Jane said: “It all happened so fast, within 20 or 30 seconds.
“It was a Sunday morning and I put the needle down on the windowsill to answer the phone, heard a strange scraping noise and noticed that the needle had disappeared.
“I realised straightaway what had happened and could barely believe it. Naturally, I was extremely worried and concerned for Lulu.
“I am an experienced receptionist at a veterinary practice, so my background told me just how serious this could be and I took her straight to the out-of-hours clinic at the practice.
“They X-rayed her and confirmed she had a needle in her stomach and needed urgent attention.”
Lulu was quickly referred to Linnaeus-owned Davies Veterinary Specialists in nearby Hitchin.
Internal medicine resident Laura Sáez Cutando and head of internal medicine Anna Threlfall used endoscopy to locate the needle.
She managed to successfully find it after spotting the red thread which was still attached.
Laura said: “The challenging part was that Lulu had eaten food so it was like finding a ‘needle in a hay stack’.
“It was actually hidden between dry biscuits and treats, and it was the red cotton we spotted first, then very slowly we followed it to the needle.
“Lulu’s breathing made the search a bit more challenging as the food content in her stomach was also moving, so at times we lost track of the red cotton and had to ‘dig’ between pieces of biscuits to find it again.
“Anna was holding the gastric endoscope pointing with the camera to the string and needle and I was trying to retrieve the needle with some very small forceps.
“To get the needle out without damaging the gastric or oesophageal wall, we had placed a long gastric tube through her mouth into her stomach.
“After this, the needle was pulled out successfully. Once I’d grabbed the string, I only had to pull it up.
“The whole procedure lasted about 40 minutes and was very successful, with Lulu discharged only a few hours later, having received omeprazole to reduce the risk of oesophagitis (inflammation of the oesophagus).”
Lucky Lulu was discharged and has since made a full recovery following the freak accident.
Jane, 55, added: “Laura was great and looked after Lulu really well.
“She said the procedure was an unusual challenge, although it was good news that the needle and thread had not passed into the intestine.
“It was such a relief. I know there are some things that animals swallow which can pass safely through the system and come out at the other end.
“You can’t risk that with a sharp needle, especially with the thread attached, so I’m very grateful to Laura and the team.”