One, if not the most common images we associate with cats is the classic “ball of yarn and kitten playtime”. Cats are instinctively infatuated with any type of moving linear material because of its resemblance to prey, and although it seems like a wonderful way to give your cat some extra exercise, it can have serious medical implications if ingested. If your feline friend gets a bit too wild with thread, ribbon, or shoelace and ends up swallowing a portion of the material it is important to proceed with caution and care. This article will review a few simple ways you can prevent injury or illness in the event that ingestion does occur.
The most common concern we see with material ingestion is a blockage of the intestinal tract with the potential for intestinal, stomach, or bowel perforation. Gastrointestinal blockage is considered an emergency and requires immediate veterinary attention and in some cases, surgical intervention. In some instances, cats swallow thread with the needle still attached. The needle then ends up in the stomach and must be removed surgically. Alternatively, the needle will get caught in the throat or roof of the mouth and can lead to choking.
It can sometimes be difficult to recognize signs of illness once you notice that your cat has ingested string material. Vomiting, straining, and loss of appetite are the most common signs to watch for. You should immediately check to see if the object is hanging out of the mouth or out of the rectum. If the object is visible you can pull on the material lightly, if there is any resistance stop pulling immediately, cut the material as short as possible and contact your veterinarian for immediate medical advice and assistance.
Written by Breah Russell, CCR