What To Do If Your Cat Ate String: Is It Dangerous? Will She Be OK?

When a cat thinks it needs to play with something, it will definitely find a way to do so, even if its pet parents don’t quite understand why.

Among the strangest things cats find irresistible are strings and threads made out of anything – wool, cord, fishing net, dental floss, sewing threads… the list goes on and on. Cats like string for a number of reasons and even the laziest kitties out there can become super playful when they get their paws on it.

Unfortunately, string isn’t the safest toy substitute for feline furballs.

Apart from the fact that getting overexcited can have a negative impact on any cat, playing with string can actually lead to a number of health complications. Getting suffocated while rolling around in some threads or ingesting the string can be fatal to every kitty out there. Due to the fact that cats use their teeth for biting during play sessions, it’s common for them to ingest some of the string they were playing with.

How can you tell if your cat ate string?

So you know your cat was playing with string earlier and now some of that string has gone missing. Chances are your cat ate it. But how can you tell for sure?

There are two basic ways to know if your cat has swallowed string. You’ll either see part of the string coming out of your cat’s mouth or anus, or you’ll see some telltale symptoms which the cat will experience.

  • Vomiting (and eventually dehydration)
  • Unsuccessful attempts to defecate
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Pain or swelling in the abdomen area

All of these signs indicate that the cat ate some string. Unfortunately, they won’t start appearing immediately. Some cats may start experiencing symptoms several days after they’ve ingested string. Other kitties may not show symptoms at all, especially if they’ve gotten the foreign body out of their organism.

Best case scenario, nature will do its magic and the string will pass through the digestive tract in the upcoming 24 hours. This, however, doesn’t guarantee that what you see in the litter box is all there is. Some particles may still be stuck in your pet’s intestines.

What to do if your cat ate string?

Vets all over the globe constantly have to deal with ingestion of foreign bodies. If your feline furball indeed ate string or thread, don’t start panicking – it’s a common thing.

Remember that if you do see parts of the string coming out of the kitty’s mouth or anus, you must NEVER, ever pull it!

Not only will this cause discomfort to your pet, but in most cases it will also inflict injury. Your actions may contribute to internal blockage or even rupture of organ tissue. Both of these outcomes are absolutely fatal for your beloved pet, so just don’t pull that string.

Call your vet and schedule an appointment. The doc can carry out a variety of tests to determine if there’s a foreign body inside the cat and if it’s causing any problems. Keep in mind that some of these tests won’t come cheap and emergency vet fees cost extra. Sadly, if you decide to avoid the trip to your veterinarian’s office, the delay might put your cat’s life in greater danger.

What will happen to your cat?

Hopefully, the string will pass through the furball’s digestive tract without causing any complications. In such cases the cat will eventually just poop it out.

But in most cases some parts of the string will remain inside your pet’s body. Any type of thread (even soft wool) can lacerate the fragile tissue of your kitty’s intestines. Rupture, blockage, internal bleeding, infections and even sepsis may occur. Needless to say, all of these complications can result in a lethal outcome for your pet.

Depending on your veterinarian’s professional opinion and the severity of your cat’s case, the kitty could get away with just a non-surgical endoscopy. If, however, the string has blocked the intestines, your feline pal will definitely need surgery. As I mentioned before, dealing with ingested string is something common for veterinarians. While it sounds scary, there’s no need to panic even if your pet needs to undergo the surgery.

The best way to spare yourself from the headaches and your cat from the sorrows is to always monitor play sessions that include any string or string toys.

Even if you’re not 100% sure that your cat ate string, it’s still safer to ask the vet for a check-up instead of to rely on sheer luck. After all, your kitty’s health is on the line. It’s better to come out as an overprotective and over-suspicious pet parent than a completely negligent one.

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Emily Parker

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

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