Cat’s brush with death after vets find 80 per cent of stomach full of hair bobbles

A Siamese cat had a brush with death after swallowing a pile of hair bobbles.

Marley’s owners hadn’t even noticed he’d been eating the bands until he fell ill but X-rays revealed the three-year-old feline had a huge mass, over 30, in his stomach.

Staff at Acorn Veterinary practice in West Kirby decided the best thing to do was to operate.

But they were shocked to find a mound of hair ties taking up “around 80%” of Marley’s stomach, which were thought to have built up over “quite some time.”

Marley’s owner Helen Unitt said the hair accessories have since been hidden away and she and husband Pete now keeping a close eye on their bobble-chomping cat.

She said, “The first time we noticed something was wrong with Marley was when he started vomiting.

“Initially we weren’t overly concerned until it got really bad and we noticed he’d vomited a piece of rubber.

“We got an emergency appointment as we were very worried and we were really grateful that Marley was seen very quickly.

“X-rays were carried out and that’s when they noticed there was a big mass in his stomach.

“But it wasn’t until they opened him up that they realised it was a clump of hair bobbles along with elastic bands and string – things we didn’t know he was eating.”

An X-ray of Marley showing his stomach, ringed, virtually full of hair bobbles

Nick Whieldon, who has worked for Willows Veterinary Group since 2019 and holds a certificate of advanced veterinary practice, carried out the surgery on Marley.

He said, “We could feel that Marley’s stomach was almost entirely full of material and when we opened it up we found he’d eaten a lot of hair bobbles.

“It was a very unusual case, I’ve never seen an animal consume so many.

“Thankfully we acted before any of them made their way through his intestines as foreign bodies such as string, bobbles and the ribbon you see on birthday presents that cats often like, can concertina and cause linear tears and lacerations which can be extremely dangerous.

“Luckily Marley has recovered very well but we’d like to warn pet owners not to leave items such as this lying around.”

Helen added, “It came as a shock to us. He had been a bit interested in them when he was a kitten as we’d seen him try and play with them if he found them but we had no idea he’d been gulping them down so we think it must’ve been an accumulation over time.

“It’s obviously only when it’s got too much that it’s affected his health.

“We were gobsmacked to hear that they were taking up 80% of his stomach.

“Thankfully the vets were able to remove all of it in one go and stitch him back up.

“Now, it’s like nothing ever happened to him – but we’re only just getting over it.”

Marley and his owner, Helen Unitt

Helen confessed that the bobbles belonged to her “leaving them lying around without thinking” but now, she’s making sure they are out of reach of Marley’s claws – and jaws!

“I’ve gone through the entire house removing any stray bobbles or anything that looks remotely elastic or string-like because I don’t want a repeat of that,” said Helen, who also has another less naughty Siamese cat called Kiera.

“You don’t realise how something so harmless could be so catastrophic.

“The vet told us if they’d gone further into his intestines, it could’ve been life-threatening so I was so relieved that we took him in when we did.”

Meanwhile, Helen, 31 from West Kirby said, “I feel like I can laugh about it now that he’s ok but it was such a terrible time.

“I must say that the care given by the vets was just brilliant, they were absolutely wonderful and so reassuring as we were beside ourselves with worry.

“We can’t praise the staff at Willows enough for what they’ve done for Marley and hope his ordeal serves as a warning to other cat owners.”


Willows Veterinary Group, part of VetPartners, offers a wealth of knowledge and expertise through a network of 23 small animal practices, a referral veterinary hospital, an equine hospital and a farm practice, located across Cheshire and into Greater Manchester, North Wales, the Wirral and Staffordshire. Willows is accredited by The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Main image: Vet Nick Whieldon with his patient, Marley, and his owner, Helen Unitt. Credit: Stacey Oliver

Why not follow on Facebook and Twitter? You can also send story ideas to

Share this

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Facebook comments

Latest news