GrassBlade Missy

“It sounds sort of like this: Acchhhhgnnnn!” Missy’s owner imitated the sound (something between a cough and a sneeze) that Missy had been producing.  “She is making a sound kind of like a human would make if there was something caught in the back of the throat,” her owner explained.

Missy, a pretty 11-year-old spayed calico Domestic Shorthair, was presented to the Newtown Veterinary Specialists emergency service for evaluation of a strange combination of sneezing and coughing that had been occurring intermittently for about three weeks.  A physical exam earlier in the week at her family veterinarian was normal.

Missy was stable on presentation at Newtown Veterinary Specialists, and her medical history was unremarkable other than the recent history of sneezing/coughing that had been gradually getting worse. Our emergency veterinarian started the physical exam in a routine way by listening closely to the patient’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Her heart and lungs sounded very healthy and her general physical condition was excellent; she had strong muscling and a soft, shiny coat.

Our doctor was getting ready to perform the hardest part of a cat physical exam (trying to look at the back of the throat) when she noticed something unusual about Missy’s left nostril.  A closer look with a pen light illuminated the very tip of a grass blade just inside the opening of the nostril.  Using forceps, we were able to gently grasp and extract the blade of grass, which turned out to be a whopping 2.5 inches long! Mystery solved!

The owner and doctor discussed how this could have happened.  Missy may have been chewing on grass and had a blade migrate from her nasopharynx (back of the mouth where the nasal passages open) up through her nasal passages and out her nostril, but there is no way to know for sure. Missy was very happy to leap back into her carrier after the exam was over, but we imagined there was a look of relief in her eyes!

Coughing and sneezing can have many causes, some serious, some less serious.  If your pet is having any sort of respiratory emergency, Newtown Veterinary Specialists is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.