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What To Do If Your Cat Swallows a Balloon?

What To Do If Your Cat Swallows a Balloon?

Please note: I am not a veterinarian and this article is not intended to be medical advice. 

Maybe your cat is one of the brave few felines that aren’t actually afraid of balloons and instead loves to chase them around the house.

But at some point, the balloon popped and now you’re trying to figure out if your cat ingested some of it.

So what should you do if you think your cat swallowed part of a balloon? The first thing you should do is consult your veterinarian. Balloons typically can’t be digested by cats and can cause an intestinal blockage which can be fatal. However, the faster you can take care of the problem the better the results will be so it’s best to make a plan with your veterinarian ASAP.

This article isn’t a substitute for veterinary advice and instead, the goal is to give you some idea of what to expect when your call your veterinarian.

Collect All Parts of the Balloon You Can Find

Unless you watched your cat eat the balloon, there may be some question as to whether or not your cat actually ate part of the balloon in the first place.

Unfortunately, because of the way balloons shrink and shrivel when they’re popped it can be very difficult to tell if any part of it is actually missing. Still, it’s worth collecting as much as you can find and this will likely be one of the first things your veterinarian will ask.

If you only find a tiny sliver of the balloon then you know that the rest could be inside your cat. On the other hand, finding most of the balloon can give you some reassurance that your cat only ate a small amount. If only a small amount was eaten, your veterinarian may decide to let it pass on its own while monitoring radiographs for any changes.

Will My Cat Vomit Up the Balloon?

It’s possible but it needs to be done quickly before the balloon moves further down the GI tract and your veterinarian will decide if it’s an appropriate first step or not.

Having the other parts of the balloon will help here too. If your cat does vomit up part of the balloon you may be able to put together a rather gross puzzle to see if you’re able to make a complete balloon between what you found at home and what was inside your cat.

Can’t You Check The X-Rays to Find the Balloon?

Your veterinarian may be able to see the intestinal blockage but in most cases, they won’t be able to see the actual balloon. That’s because rubbers and plastics don’t show up on x-rays. These objects are considered radiolucent (which just means they don’t show up on x-ray) and while you’ll eventually be able to see the impact of these objects in the form of changes to your cat’s digestive system, you won’t be able to immediately determine just how much of the balloon was ingested by your cat.

But My Cat Seems Fine- Do I Really Need To Worry?

Yes, you should still consult your veterinarian! Just because your cat is eating or drinking today doesn’t mean there’s not a blockage forming. These things take time and unfortunately the longer they’re left untreated the worse they get. When it’s addressed immediately, your veterinarian may even be able to induce vomiting to remove the balloon.

But even when that’s not an option your veterinarian can still monitor changes in x-rays to check for a blockage and take action as soon as it’s appropriate. It’s never worth it to just hope it resolves itself- an intestinal blockage is just too severe of a condition to chance it with.

Closing Thoughts

It’s unusual for cats to ingest balloons. Not only do most cats not eat strange objects, but many cats are actually too afraid of balloons to get up close to them in the first place. Still, it does happen and if your cat has swallowed a balloon, or you suspect they may have, it’s time to call the veterinarian and get a plan in place.