Given that he was so unwell, we were suspicious that he could have swallowed something that wasn't showing up on the x-rays so he was given BIPS (barium-impregnated spheres) which are little balls that show up on an x-ray and show us if things are moving through the gut.
The next working day Muffin was radiographed again and on the x-ray, we can see all the balls sitting in the stomach. 12 hours after administration, these balls should be almost through the gastrointestinal tract so our suspicions were raised that something was blocking this process.
Muffin was taken to surgery for an exploratory laparotomy, which is the medical term for opening his abdominal cavity to be able to look at all the organs inside. When we did this we found something hard stuck in his small intestines which turned out to be the top of a nerf bullet. This was surgically removed and that night Muffin was eating again without vomiting.
Ingestion of foreign bodies is a lot less common in cats compared with dogs but when they do it is often associated with play items. Muffin was known to chew on nerf bullets, presumably because they roll around they are fun to play with. Cats will often also ingest things like hair ties and rubber bands for a similar reason. The major issue with these types of items is that plastic and fabric don't show up on a radiograph so can be harder to detect and take a bit longer to diagnose what is happening.
Muffin is not the first cat we have removed the top of a nerf bullet from so it is a risk to be aware of with playful cats around these sorts of toys.
Dr Nikki Frost BSc BVSc MANZCVS (Medicine of Cats)