A kitten playing with a ball of yard is a common picture. You might have noticed your own cat going after strings like clotheslines, shoe laces, and window blind pulls. Strings will seem to twitch as a cat bats it with her paws, engaging her hunting instincts.
But strings, and yarn in particular, are actually one of the most dangerous toys you can give to a cat. There are several health risks that can result in high vet bills or even death if your cat swallows or plays around with string.
Yarn and spools of string are the most common objects associated with dangers for cats, but even if you don’t have these around your house, there are several other household items that can be a risk. These include:
When a cat swallows a bit of string, even less than an inch of it, it poses an immediate choking risk. This is especially dangerous if your cat finds a piece of string while unsupervised so that you are unable to assist.
String that makes its way into the gastrointestinal tract often becomes trapped, causing a linear obstruction. This is a particularly dangerous type of obstruction as one end becomes trapped and the rest of it trails down the intestinal tract, causing the intestines to bunch up. There is also a risk of a tear in an internal organ and infection. Removing trapped string requires surgery.
A cat may also become tangled in string while playing. A string around your cat’s neck could cut off airflow. If string gets wrapped around a leg or tail, it could limit the flow of blood, killing tissue in the tail or paws.
Removing stringed objects from your home, or at least from your cat’s reach. When items are not in use, store them properly in containers that she cannot get into. For toys, use either store bought or DIY toys that don’t have strings in them that could become detached. Other toys can still provide the entertainment of chasing a moving object without the risk.
If you suspect your cat has swallowed a string, call your vet and monitor her carefully. Ideally she will pass the string or vomit it up, but if she does not, or there are any other changes in behavior, veterinary assistance will likely be needed.