My Cat Ate a String What Should I Do?

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 11/19/20 •  3 min read
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Cats love to play with string! It doesn’t matter what type of string—it can be twine, yarn, etc. Cats just can’t help themselves if you draw a string across the floor. They’ll be on it in heartbeat!

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While string can be a harmless toy, it can quickly become a serious medical issue if you cat eats string. Most cats don’t try to eat the string, but there are some cats that are prone to swallow all types of non-food objects. These cats have something called pica, which is an obsessive-compulsive behavior. It causes cats (other animals, and humans) to eat all types of non-food items. This can include some very strange things such as wool, paper, plastic, rocks, and even string.

What If my Cat Swallows String?

String will usually stay intact as it works its way through the cat’s digestive tract. It may pass through without any problems. Other times, however, the string can become tangled or bunched in the cat’s intestines, causing an intestinal blockage. This is a very serious medical condition that, if left untreated, can lead to death.

Symptoms of Swallowed String in Cats

At first, the cat may not show any symptoms after swallowing string. In that case, the string may pass without problems in about ten to twenty-four hours. On the other hand, if the string creates a blockage in the cat’s system, then you may notice these symptoms:

It is strongly recommended to contact a Pet Poison Helpline or your veterinarian.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, then call the vet immediately. This is a medical emergency that could be life-threatening.

Treatment of a Cat That’s Swallowed String

First, if you notice string coming from your cat’s anus, never pull it out. This could cause even more damage to your cat’s digestive tract. The same applies if you notice string sticking out of your cat’s mouth, and the string going down the cat’s throat. Never, ever pull the string out.

If you know for sure that your cat has swallowed string, it’s best to call the vet right away. Even if the cat’s not showing symptoms, be sure to call the vet.

At the vet, they will perform a physical exam of your cat and may choose to run some lab work. The vet may also order x-rays, which can show where the string is caught in your fur baby’s intestines.

If it looks like the string will not pass without causing problems, the vet may remove the string through an endoscopic procedure. If that’s not possible, then your fur baby may require surgery.

Prevention is the best way to keep your cat safe from these types of medical problems. If you use string to play with your cat, always make sure it’s put away where your cat can’t get it. It’s best to pick up all yarn, thread, and more. You and your cat will be a lot happier!

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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