11 April 2022

Our expert team here at Willows ensured a family cat kept all of its nine lives by carrying out emergency surgery after we discovered the pet had ingested almost 50 hairbands.

Berry, a two-year-old domestic shorthair, was referred to us when her owner reported the cat had been vomiting and retching.

Our team took graphic x-rays which highlighted the problem – a tangled mass of elasticated hairbands lodged between Berry’s oesophagus and stomach.

Our rotating intern Jo McKendry explained: “Berry arrived having suffered acute vomiting the night before and she now wasn’t eating or drinking. 

“She behaved like she was trying to vomit up a fur ball but was struggling to bring it up.

“She was clearly dehydrated and when I examined her, I felt a large sausage-style structure in her cranial abdomen which was confirmed by x-rays. 

“The images showed a foreign body extending from Berry’s stomach into her distal oesophagus – and it appeared to be a mass of hairbands.  

“I performed a gastrotomy to access and remove the bands, and Berry was allowed home the following day. 

“She was quickly back to normal, showed a massive increase in appetite and was soon putting on weight.” 

Owner Paul Spraggett, from Stratford, Warwickshire, was left stunned when our team told him the cause of Berry’s condition was down to her habit of snaffling the elasticated accessories.

After leaving the beloved family pet to undergo emergency surgery, Paul said he immediately went home to warn his wife and two daughters about the dangers of leaving hairbands lying around.  

He said: “None of us had ever thought about the risks that hairbands and similar everyday objects could pose for our four cats. 

“We were really shocked to find out that was why Berry had been so sick and that’s why hairbands are now banned from anywhere the cats might go in the house. 

“Willows told us they’d had other similar cases in the past, although not involving anything like the amount that Berry had swallowed.

“Jo and the team at Willows were absolutely fantastic from start to finish. They explained everything to us very clearly and thoroughly and kept us in touch every step of the way.

“We’re so grateful to have our lovely cat back and she’s certainly loving being back, too. She’s racing around with her brother and has really come on and grown since the operation. 

“Now she has much more of an appetite and that’s convinced us that she must have been snaffling these hairbands over a long period of time, maybe even 18 months. 

“We think they gradually accumulated, filling her stomach and that’s why she could only eat her food in small portions. 

“Finally, her stomach was so full it made her ill and we ended up at Willows to discover why.”