Fistulated cows serve both as supremely useful research/learning tool in veterinary medicine and PETA magnet. These are cows whose rumens (the largest of the four chambers in the bovine stomach) have been surgically attached to the body wall and made accessible to those curious about what lies beneath.  

Here's an up-close-and-personal pic:

By way of compensation, these cows get treated to a life of vet school-style bovine luxury. They may wander the pastures with a Tupperware container attached to their flank. They may suffer the occasional indignity of having vet students poke their hands into their stomach searching for specimens to evaluate under their $1,500 microscopes. But they also get lots of healthy foods and more than their share of individual attention.

Welfare concerns notwithstanding (that’s not what this post is about), it occurred to me in a sudden surge of dark vet humor that the some pets might qualify for such a procedure.

The Lab I keep seeing (every three months or so) when the desire to consume shiny household objects overwhelms her?

The cat who can’t get enough of her father’s ill-discarded dental floss?

The terrier who attacks and swallows any stray pill that hits the floor?

The tampon-consuming repeat offender?

Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of cutting them open or subjecting them to uncomfortable bouts of vomiting we could just reach past the Tupperware-style lid and pull out the item?

Instead, we’re left with the work, stress, expense and risks inherent to our medical and surgical tools.

Sure, fistulation is a mere pipe dream for this vet. It’s just not doable—never mind ethical—in small animal medicine. But sometimes I can’t help thinking there’s got to be a better way for these ridiculous pets in our midst. I mean tampons…really!