A PLAYFUL kitten needed life-saving surgery at a Crediton veterinary practice after swallowing a metre-long piece of yarn that blocked her intestines and caused serious internal injuries.

Margot underwent emergency surgery at Jonathan Wood Veterinary Practice to extract the length of embroidery thread that caused so much internal damage she also needed to have 15cm of intestine removed in order to save her life.

The 10-month-old tabby had been rushed to the veterinary practice at Barnstaple Cross by her worried owner when she noticed the kitten wasn’t herself and was repeatedly being sick.

After tests to rule out common health conditions that affect young cats, the veterinary team discovered the hidden problem.

Vet Alice Kay said alarm bells started to ring when Margot continued vomiting after receiving anti-sickness medication.

Alice said: “I had a chat to Margot’s owner and she remembers seeing the kitten playing with some embroidery yarn a few days before. "To find out what was going on inside Margot, we gave her a barium meal, which is a special liquid that shows up on X-ray, and we could see there was a foreign body inside her stomach.

“I took Margot into surgery and found a long piece of yarn running from her stomach to her small intestine which, to put things in context, are about a metre in length. The yarn had caused the intestine to scramble up, and no food could get through because the gut was blocked.

An image of the yarn that was removed from the pet.
An image of the yarn that was removed from the pet. (submitted)

“I was hoping I could remove the yarn in one piece, but because it was so long and had stuck to the sides of the intestine, I had to make several incisions so I could snip the thread into pieces and take it out bit by bit.

“Unfortunately, the thread had caused some of Margot’s intestine to perforate, and I removed the damaged section because it was irreparable.”

After such a major operation, Margot was very poorly and was given supportive care by the Jonathan Wood's team. She was also treated with medication to encourage her gut to start moving again.

Alice added: “Margot is obviously a fighter because she improved every day and was able to go home a few days later, but she’s definitely used up at least one of her nine lives.

“We see a lot of pets that have swallowed something they shouldn’t, and I would recommend that if owners see their cat or dog playing with or chewing an object that’s not a pet toy, to remove it from them and put it well out of reach.

"Some items cause more damage than others, and the yarn that Margot swallowed was particularly harmful because it was so long and thin and affected quite a large section of the gut.”

Margot is now back home with her owner Louise Mihelic and her family in Cullompton. Louise said the kitten is the beloved companion of her 21-year-old daughter, Scarlett, who has autism.

She said: “I am so grateful to Alice for saving Margot’s life as we would have been devastated if we had lost her, especially Scarlett who absolutely adores her. Alice was amazing and went above and beyond the call of duty when she was caring for Margot.”

Louise said she was surprised to discover that it was embroidery yarn that had made Margot so ill.

She added: “My daughter enjoys crafting and I’d noticed Margot playing with some thread in her room, but picked it up and put it on the side where I didn’t think she’d be able to reach it. She must have jumped up and knocked it down while I was at work, and by batting it around with her paw made it unravel so it was easier to swallow.

“She wasn’t ill straight away, and it took a few days for the yarn to travel through her system and cause a problem.

“It was very worrying to see her so ill, and the whole family was on a rollercoaster ride for a few days while Alice and her team battled to save Margot.

"She is an extra precious cat because her mum is one of our pets. When she was due to have kittens I promised Scarlett that I would keep one if there was a tabby, expecting they would all be black like her previous litter. As fate would have it, they were all black – except for Margot! So, obviously we were meant to keep her!

“After going through such an ordeal I’m delighted Margot is back to her old self and has made a complete recovery. I just can’t thank the vets enough. We live 40 minutes away from the practice, and have other vets that are closer, but I trust Jonathan Wood's Vets with my animals because they always give them the highest level of care.”

Jonathan Wood Veterinary Surgeons is a busy mixed-animal practice in Crediton and offers the highest levels of care to small animals, equines and livestock. Jonathan Wood Vets is part of VetPartners, which has 11,000 employees across more than 700 sites across Europe.