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Felinexpress.com home > Cat Care > The Dangers of String and Cats

The Dangers of String and Cats

Invariably every time I am sent a forwarded email with cute photos of kitties playing, two or three of these kitties are portrayed wrapped up in string, ribbon or yarn. Instead of smiling, I cringe. I know from first-hand experience that string, yarn, thread, ribbon or twine and kitties do not mix!

When Chandler arrived here, he invited grins and giggles right away. This eight-week old black kitty found abandoned on the streets loved to chase string. Wand toys were his favorite item. He would hear the closet door open and come running ready to play. I kept the wand toys safely stashed in the closet in the hallway. But one day, when I was rushed, I didn’t latch the door and while I was out of the house, Chandler got into the closet, grabbed the wand toy and drug it upstairs.

Arriving back home, I opened several cans of cat food and called to the cats. All came running except for Chandler. After all the bowls had been filled- Chandler still wasn’t visible. I climbed the stairs to discover in horror that Chandler had swallowed the toy, string and all. The wand was lying next to Chandler’s open mouth, drool hanging down the side of his mouth. Scooping him up carefully, I rushed to my vet’s office where they ran an x-ray and determined where the string and the toy were located before pulling it out! Chandler was lucky. The closet door had a lock on it the very next day.

I read somewhere that kitties look at string, yarn, thread, twine, ribbon the same way they look at their favorite food; mice in an enticing way. The jumble of string resembles mouse intestines the author noted and kitties will go for it every time. Most cats will jump at the chance of eating string or yarn.

If your cat ever swallows string and you see it protruding out of his/her body- DON’T PULL ON IT! Call your vet immediately and get to the vet quickly. The string or ribbon can wrap around the back of the tongue or worse. When the cat’s body starts to digest the string- this causes muscular contractions making the string (or other foreign object) tighten. This tightening can turn the string into a dangerous weapon capable of sawing intestines or tissue in half.

Signs your cat swallowed string:

  • Diarrhea sometimes bloody
  • Vomiting or regurgitation
  • Gagging while eating and drinking
  • Straining at the litter pan or moaning when trying to pass stool
  • Constipation
  • Shows pain when touched on the abdomen
  • Grits teeth instead of eating (a clear sign of pain)
  • Stops eating
  • Becomes lethargic
  • Hides from you
  • Or you see string or foreign object hanging out of kitty’s orifice

All of the above symptoms are danger signs that your cat needs a vet quickly!

How to stop a cat from swallowing string, dental floss, yarn, or other foreign bodies:

  • Keep sewing, knitting and crafting items safely in drawers.
  • Cover wastebaskets in bedrooms and bathrooms as cats like to go diving in trash.
  • Store fishing gear outside and securely tucked away in cupboards.
  • Don’t bring tinsel, garland, or any decoration with string, ribbon or yarn into your home at Christmas time. Have a large covered trash can nearby so you can discard immediately any wrappings from gifts brought into your home.
  • Keep wand toys under lock and key.
  • Always check the toy before playing with the cat. Pull the string as hard as you can, check for frayed pieces of the line and don’t use the toy if you find weaknesses in the toy.
  • Supervise the play at all time. When you are finished, don’t leave the toy out in the open.
  • Place all string, yarn, ribbon, dental floss etc. into plastic containers with snap lids. Don’t throw used dental floss into trash cans that kitties can get into. Put them deep into the kitchen trash or other covered trash can.
  • During holidays, store all ribbon, yarn, string in covered boxes or plastic containers. Pick up any remnants on the carpet and sweep or vacuum the floor after you are done.

Playing with string and yarn is cute and fun for your cat. But this type of play carries a hidden danger if kitty gets a hold of the string and you aren’t on the other end.  The same applies for pre-made toys with ribbons, string and other kitty delicacies dangling off them. Cut off anything that cat may swallow or choke on then present the toy to kitty this even applies to the tails of the cute little felt mice you can buy by the dozen. Above all, play safe.

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