Between my cat and my dog, I have to give the ‘Best Foreign Object Eater” award to my dog. I’ve seen him put stuff in his mouth that nearly gave me a heart attack.
That being said, my cat isn’t too far behind with his curious palate. Besides trying to get a sneak bite of my food, he has tried ingesting small objects that could cause some serious problems.
It isn’t uncommon to hear stories about a cat or dog ingesting a earplug of part of it. These items are small and don’t take much effort to consume. But what should you do if your cat swallowed your earplugs?
Let us take a look at the potential dangers that your cat can suffer from when swallowing an earplug. More importantly, what can be done to help your cat.
Are Ear Plugs Toxic If Swallowed?
The good news is that if your curious cat has swallowed an ear plug, you don’t have to worry about any form of toxicity.
That being said, the biggest risks from swallowing an ear plug are:
- Injury caused by the material
- Choking hazard
- Intestinal obstruction
Ear plugs are more commonly made of materials like silicone or flexible polyurethane foam.
However, there are some earplugs that are made from a combination of the above material and plastic or metal.
When your cat starts to bite down on the ear plugs, the harder material can start to crack and splinter into sharp pieces that can cut into your cat’s mouth and throat.
These sharp and hard pieces can do more damage by perforating your cat’s stomach and digestive tract if swallowed.
In the event that your cat doesn’t chew on the earplug but swallows it whole, there is a risk of the earplug being stuck in your cat’s throat or esophagus and restricting its airflow.
When this happens, it will be difficult for your cat to breathe normally as its air passageway is obstructed.
Signs of choking include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pawing at mouth
- Rubbing of mouth against the ground
The risk of the ear plug getting stuck in your cat’s intestines and causing a partial or complete blockage is also very likely.
There are some ear plugs that come with a cord to allow the user to place the ear plugs around the neck when not in use.
If the cat swallows part or the whole chord, it can get entangled in your cat’s intestines.
If your cat is still young like a kitten or is a small-sized breed like a Munchkin, the risk of a blockage is even higher.
Signs of an intestinal blockage:
- Mucus in stool
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
An intestinal blockage in cats has the propensity to get life-threatening very quickly when it leads to a condition called megacolon.
This is when your cat’s colon gets really stretched out and weak as fecal matter and food get stuck due to the blockage caused by the ear plug.
If the obstruction isn’t resolved in a timely manner, the cat will die.
What Should I Do If My Cat Ate My Earplug?
First of all, please don’t panic but be concerned. Unless you personally saw your cat ingest the earplug right in front of your eyes, there’s a chance that you misplaced it or your cat swiped it under a piece of furniture.
Some earplugs are really small and get lost very easily.
If you are certain that your cat ate the earplug, it would be best to give your vet a call to see if there is a need to bring your cat in for an examination.
If your vet feels that the earplug is too small to cause your cat any harm, it might be best to give it a day or two to see if your cat is able to pass it out.
During this period, it might be a good idea to give your cat some fiber and more food to try and help it add more bulk in the cat’s intestines to push out the earplug.
You can add a small amount of psyllium husk or fresh pumpkin to your cat’s food as fiber. Do not use anything else that might end up causing more issues for your cat.
Make sure to check your cat’s poop every time it defecates in the litter box.
Once the earplug is sighted, all is good.
Otherwise, you will need to bring your cat to the vet for medical treatment. Most cases of intestinal blockages would require surgery to get it resolved.
Once the location of the obstruction is identified from x-rays, the vet will then proceed to remove it from your cat’s intestines.
If at any point in time, you notice that your cat starts to become more withdrawn, loses its appetite or behaves out of the norm, take your cat to the vet immediately.
Please do not wait as your cat might be in a serious situation.
Even if this happens at night when your usual vet is closed, take your cat to an emergency vet which is usually 24 hours.
How Long Does It Take A Cat To Pass An Object?
Cats as obligate carnivores have a very acidic stomach and short intestinal tract.
This helps the cat to digest its food quickly and removes any bacteria in its food that might make it sick.
This would be very beneficial for cats who are on a raw meat diet.
Having a shorter intestinal tract also means that it takes a much shorter time for cats to digest, absorb and pass out their waste as compared to humans.
Cats can take anywhere between 10-12 hours to pass out something that we have eaten.
It might take longer if the material is harder and isn’t very ‘digestible’ like foam or rubber.
Why Did My Cat Eat My Earplugs?
I doubt any one of us wouldn’t want to touch earplugs used by someone else let alone put them in our mouths.
But for cats, earplugs might come across as a tasty treat due to the presence of ear wax on it.
Earwax Is Delicious?
Eax wax is actually a misnomer as ear wax isn’t actually made from wax but rather the texture of it.
Ear wax is made from dead cells within our ears. It also consists of sweat and oil from our ceruminous and sebaceous glands respectively.
To simplify it, ear wax is mainly:
- Fatty acid
- Animal protein
- Dead skin
The above concoction would sound gross to anyone but not to your cat. This is because cats are attracted to fats and their sense of smell is acute enough to pick up the scent from your ear wax.
Your cat’s sense of smell is 14 times better than a human’s which makes it even possible for them to smell the animal fat that is used in the making of plastic bags.
This explains why some cats are so drawn to plastic bags for no rhyme or reason…until now.
Pica is a behavioral problem that causes the cat to chew and ingest many types of inedible items. This can range from fabric and plastic to even glass and metal.
Unfortunately, scientists aren’t very sure of the causes of such a strange issue in cats. Some speculate that it could be due to a dietary malnutrition or genetic condition.
There isn’t any cure for Pica hence cats with this issue need to be properly managed.
As a pet parent, there will be times when our furkids will do something that will scare the living daylights out of us.
The best thing that you can do when it happens is to contact your vet to see if you need to bring your cat down for immediate medical attention.