The web: great for unhelpful answers

The last time we saw her, our vet recommended giving Hunter and Ralph some chicken bones to chew on from time to time – a kind of meaty toothbrush, as it were. On Sunday we happened to have some spare chicken thighs, so we gave this a shot. Ralph growled, hissed, gnawed away and generally had a whale of a time until we threw the bone out. While we were attempting to keep Ralph and his new toy in the kitchen, Hunter quickly and silently somehow managed to ingest the entire thing, bone and all.

This was obviously not the plan. Unaware as to whether or not a cat eating a whopping great bone was a good thing, I turned to the general purpose fountain of all knowledge (internet edition). And what a mistake that was.

Fortunately, there are many, many pages – most on Yahoo Answers – where concerned cat owners have asked the question “are chicken bones safe for a cat to eat“. Better still, there are many answers. Unfortunately, they all contradict one another. Some users swear that any chicken bone is a huge health risk. Other owners explain that they feed chicken bones every day with no problems. Some give the (reasonable sounding) advice that raw bones are fine, but cooked ones can break up too easily and cause internal harm. Still others claim that any raw meat is riddled with Salmonella, but that cooked chicken is great pet food.

One person even suggests that occasionally feeding cats KFC is not a troublesome activity. And then there’s the brilliantly fuckwitted but surpsisingly common response: “would you eat raw chicken? NO! Then why give it to a cat?”. I discussed this one with Ralph one evening over steak, chips and a bottle of red wine and he said “miow”, which I think means “if you’re not capable of telling the difference between a cat and a person you may have issues”.

So, anyhow, I’m still none the wiser. In the end I called the vet, who said that there was no problem as long as Hunter seemed OK. Hunter, as it turned out, seemed perfectly fine for the next 24 hours, and with the exception of a quick furball style vomit the next evening (brilliantly targeted at the sofa) has been eating, prowling and pooping as usual.

In fact, he appears to be thrilled with all the extra attention he’s been getting since eating a bone the size of his own head, and would probably try it again in a heartbeat – not that he’s going to get the chance. In the meantime I’m incredibly relieved that he seems OK, and will probably stop worrying in six months or so – until then, we’ll be sticking to Whiskas.

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