Cat Ate Bologna String – What Now? (Solved & Explained!)

Cats love bologna, to the point that some cats will attempt to steal it before you can even get that ‘red ring’ safely off of it. It’s actually kind of cute, but it’s only natural to wonder, what should you do if your cat ate bologna string?

Check the brand that you have to see if the ring is made of intestinal tract – which is edible – or synthetics such as plastic or collagen, which are NOT. In most cases, the plastic will pass through their stools within 10 to 24 hours, but it is still dangerous as it can knot or get caught in the intestines!

Today we’ll take a closer look at this scenario so that you’ll be able to make an informed decision about what to do if your cat swallows bologna string. While it might be okay, things can definitely get bad, so read on for vital information about bologna string and what happens when your cat eats it!

Bologna string’s purpose and what it is made of

The ‘red string’ around the bologna is there for a purpose. Typically, when the lunchmeat is made, a protective sleeve is in place so that the slices retain their shape and stay fresh around those edges. The ‘sleeve’ itself is traditionally made from intestinal tract materials, but these days plastic, collagen, and other fibrous materials are usually employed instead.

Unfortunately, since they aren’t edible, for your cat this is basically a loop of string that will need to pass a lot of barriers ‘on it’s way out’, and this is a potential recipe for serious trouble where your cat’s health is concerned.

What happens when a cat swallows bologna string?

When a cat swallows string, within a space of 10 to 24 hours it can pass safely through to their stool – if nothing goes wrong. The problem with string, especially thick yarn or a looped bologna string is that they can get caught up or even knotted in the intestines.

This, in turn, can cause perforations and internal bleeding! Now, let’s say that you’ve caught the cat in the act. Should you pull the string out? Unfortunately, this is also dangerous, as in this ‘halfway swallowed’ state pulling on that string could harm your cat’s esophagus and there is also a danger of choking.

This can also sometimes lead to an infection of the lungs called ‘aspiration pneumonia’. So, while strings seem harmless, the reality is very much the opposite. If you’ve caught your cat in the process of swallowing the string, it’s best to get them to the vet right away.

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If your cat has already swallowed it, then it may pass through to their stool within 10 to 24 hours, but as the red ring is basically a circle of string, it might be a good idea to get the vet involved anyway unless it’s made of intestinal tract. It’s always best to err on the safe side.

What are the symptoms that your cat has swallowed string?

If you didn’t see your cat eat the string but you’re pretty sure that they did, or in a case where you cannot bring them in to the vet quickly, it’s useful to know some of the symptoms that your cat is having trouble passing it through their system.

Those symptoms may include one of more of the following:

  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Difficulty with bowel movements or even bloody bowel movements
  • Consistent dry heaving or vomiting
  • Body language that indicates abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia (in cases where it’s been inside for awhile)

If you see these symptoms then you really want to get your cat to the vet as soon as possible. The biggest problem with string, really, is the possibility of it knotting. This can make it almost impossible to pass and the longer that it is in there, the more dangerous this becomes.

Plus, with knotting, it’s not  always just a simple matter of making the cat vomit, because the string might actually be trapped. That’s why it’s important to get the vet involved right away if you are seeing these symptoms or believe that your cat may have accidentally ingested a good bit of string.  

How does a vet treat string ingestion?

The first thing that they will try to do is to locate the string, but if your vet cannot find it, then they may try to induce vomiting first to see if it will dislodge. This is okay for the vet to do, but don’t try this at home!

If they are unable to remove the string this way, then likely the vet will use an endoscope to look for it. This is just a small camera so that your vet can safely look inside your cat to locate the string and determine the next steps once they have found it.

Removal of the string may require surgery, but it until your vet has confirmed that the string is indeed inside and that it’s stuck or knotted there, that won’t necessarily be the case. The important thing is to get your veterinarian involved as soon as possible so that it may be effectively dealt with before the symptoms can become life-threatening.

Some final words

If your cat ate bologna string, don’t panic yet. There is still a possibility that it will pass safely through their system within the next 10 to 24 hours, although it’s recommended that you get a vet involved as soon as possible.

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Thick strings such as bologna string can become trapped in the intestines and can even cause perforations and internal bleeding, so unless the bologna string was made of something edible such as intestinal material then there is certainly a chance that it could affect your kitty’s health, but only your vet can tell you for sure.

So, get you kitty in for a checkup asap and with a quick X-ray your vet should be able to tell you if it’s likely to pass or if your cat may need a little extra help. With a little luck, your cat will be back to their old self in no time!