Cat Dangers

Strings and Similar Foreign Bodies in Cats – Be Aware of the Danger


A ball of twine. A sewing needle with thread attached. A stray string hanging from a fabric. These objects seem pretty innocuous, don’t they? And in most cases, they are. But for a curious cat who ingests all or part of one of these objects, the results can be fatal.

Unfortunately, I saw a cat like this today in my practice. She had been vomiting for two days and not eating anything. By the time she got to our office, she was weak and depressed. In fact, she was barely moving. A physical examination revealed a white thread under her tongue which was enough to diagnose her condition.

These cat owners obviously waited much too long to seek care for their pet but that’s a subject for another post. The point of this post is to explain the importance of keeping string and similar objects out of the reach of your cat.

Cats, being the creatures they are, are naturally attracted to strings. They love to play with and chase string-like objects. While playing, your cat may end up swallowing some or all of the string. When that happens, the situation can become quite serious.

In some cases, the string may pass through the intestinal tract uninhibited and pass in your cat’s feces without causing a problem. But the potential for complications is high. The string can become lodged in the stomach or intestinal tract, causing an obstruction. Or, as in the case of the cat described above, a loop of string can be caught under the tongue, effectively anchoring the string at one end. As the intestinal tract continues its normal peristaltic action which would normally help move contents through the tract, the string can actually cut through the intestines, causing peritonitis as the contents of the intestines leak into your cat’s abdominal cavity.

In situations where complications like obstructions or intestinal perforations occur, surgery will become necessary to save your cat. Unfortunately, depending on the amount of damage, surgery is not always successful and the outcome is never guaranteed at the outset. Sometimes, despite surgical intervention, death will still occur.

So, the next time you use that sewing basket to reattach a button or repair a hem in an item of clothing, make sure you place that basket and its contents in a secure location where your cat cannot access it when you are finished. Needless to say, swallowing thread with a needle attached adds an even more dangerous element for your cat. Be aware of string-like objects around your home (twine, ribbon, etc.) and make every effort to keep these items away from your cat. Doing so will spare you a stressful visit to your veterinarian and may very well save your cat’s life.

This article is posted and shared through the courtesy of the Pet Health Care Gazette