Just Christmas Things: My Cat Ate String

December 06, 2018

Just Christmas Things: My Cat Ate String

So, what do you do if your cat eats a string?


In my last blog post which you can readhere, I went through the hazards that Christmas decorations pose for your kitty.


Cats are naturally curious creatures and like to explore the world around them. This is especially true for younger kittens who’ve just seen a Christmas or two in life. The truth is that holiday decorations entice your kitty and she just can’t help herself.


In some cases, one thing leads to another and your cat ends up eating something she isn’t supposed to.


It happens to everyone.


In this blog post, we will answer the question, “My cat ate string, what should I do?”in detail.


Let’s begin.

WhatKindof String Did Your Kitty Eat?

To determine what your next steps might be, it is important to first figure out the kind of string that your cat ate.


Yarn is extremely dangerous for cats.


So is a string.


The list also includes Christmas tinsel, Easter grass, fishing line, dental floss, ribbon, and any other long, thread-like item.


When ingested by cats or kittens these strings have the potential to lead to a life-threatening condition known as gastrointestinal obstruction due to a linear foreign body.


The condition is a scary one.

My Cat Ate String: Why Is It a Problem?

Linear items such as Christmas tinsel and thread can wreak havoc when one end of the it gets anchored somewhere inside the body.


One of the most common places for this to happen is under the tongue where the string may wrap around the tongue’s and then, swallowed.


However, it is not the only place where linear items can snag.


If a portion of the string gets anchored anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, problems can occur.


The intestines will try to work the string through and towards the anus. But if it is anchored, it won’t budge. So, the intestines move, and this natural motility may cause it to become bunched up.


This bunching may lead to life-threatening blockage of the intestines that needs surgery.


As the intestine bunches, the pressure placed on them by the foreign body that may cause perforations in the intestinal walls. Strings also have the potential to directly lacerate the intestines which may lead to the intestinal contents leaking through the perforations that can even cause sepsis and death.


Scary, right?

Signs of Gastrointestinal Obstruction Due to Linear Foreign Body

Let’s take a look at some of the signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal obstruction due to a linear foreign body in cats.


The primary symptoms that may appear include vomiting, especially after eating, anorexia, weakness, diarrhea, and weight loss.


A blockage may occur in the stomach or in the intestines. Gastric outflow obstruction results in the accumulation of ingested solids and fluids in the stomach. This can lead to:

  • Vomiting
  • A subsequent loss of fluids, including gastric secretions rich in hydrochloric acid,
  • Dehydration
  • Sluggishness
  • Weight loss

Small intestinal obstruction results in the accumulation of ingested solids and fluids in the intestines by the area of obstruction.


Consequent vomiting can result in significant dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, depending on the exact location of the blockage in the intestines.


Damage to the protective linings of the intestine and bowelischemia (in which blood supply to the bowels is restricted) can also potentially result in the presence of toxins in the blood.

What Should I Do if My Cat Ate String

Since there is a lot of risks associated, you shouldn’t let your kitty have any access to strings such as yarn, dental floss, ribbons, etc.


However, this doesn’t mean that your cat will get into trouble every time it eats string.


In case your cat has munched on a piece of string, chances are that it will make its way through the intestines if it isn’t anchored.  


Sometimes, a small portion of a very long piece of thread or string may come out from a cat’s anus.


In such cases, pulling on the string can have really bad consequences.


If the string is long enough, traction on it may lead to lacerations or cause serious damage to the walls of any portion of the gastrointestinal tract with which it is in contact.


So, if you find your cat with a dangling string, you should carefully cut the string near the anus. Keep a close eye on your kitty until the entire thing comes out. If any unusual symptoms occur, immediately take your cat to the vet.


Generally, it is safe to gently take out a piece of string from the anus if you know how to do it properly. But if you have any doubts, don’t pull.

Final Words

You should keep your kitty as far away from liner items such as strings as possible to ensure her safety.


One of the best things you can do is to confine your cat to areas of the house that aren’t separated from Christmas and to not let your cat roam about without supervision. Prevention is always better than the cure.


Some cats may not be as attracted to the strings but, you should still be vigilant.


Have questions? Leave them in the comments, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.


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