Cat Ate a String: What To Do (Solved & Explained!)

Cats are curious creatures that often get into things they shouldn’t. When this happens, they end up accidentally ingesting a foreign object. This is especially true of string and yarn. Many cats find strings and yarn irresistible, and they end up swallowing them as a result.

If your cat swallows string, it’s important to keep a close eye on your cat’s behavior. If only a small string was swallowed, your cat will likely pass it. However, complications can arise if the cat swallows a thick piece, the string has something hard attached to it, or the string gets wrapped around something internally.

Keep reading to learn more about what you should do if your cat swallows a string. This article walks you through the causes, symptoms, and treatment plan.

What Kind of Strings Do Cats Swallow?

Cats are natural predators, and they love to play-hunt with toys, strings, and objects around the house. Strings often make great prey because they are wiggly, tempting, and resemble a tail. As a result, it’s common that cats love to pounce on strings.

As you probably know, this results in the cat ingesting the string in a lot of cases. The most common string types cats chase and swallow include yarn, dental floss, fishing line, holiday tinsel, ribbon, shoelaces, rubber bands, and other threadlike items.

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What Happens When A Cat Swallows A String?

What happens when a cat swallows a string ultimately depends on the string type, size, and other items attached to the string.

In a best case scenario, nothing will happen after your cat swallows a string. Instead, your cat will just pass the small string just like it would food. This consequence is most likely to happen if the string is small and has nothing attached to it. For example, a small flyaway likely will not cause any damage to your cat.

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Unfortunately, the consequences of a cat swallowing a string can be severe. Foreign body obstruction is the most common serious issue that results from a string being swallowed. The phrase “foreign body” refers to any item that is not food located in a dog’s or cat’s digestive tract. If a cat ingests a string, that string is considered a foreign body.

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 Whenever the string is inside the cat’s body, it can cause blockage. It can even wrap around the cat’s tongue or organs or become anchored in the cat’s stomach. All of these scenarios are serious and often require medical intervention for treatment.

If the string has a needle or some other sharp object attached, the needle can puncture organs and other internal body parts. This causes serious side effects and requires medical intervention. If your cat does not get the care it needs, it could die from the side effects.

Signs Your Cat Has Swallowed A String

The symptoms of swallowing the string vary from case to case. If your cat only swallows a small string, it may not have any symptoms as the string passes normally. In the case that your cat passes the string, the string should be found in the cat’s feces within 10 to 24 hours.

If your cat swallows a bigger piece of string or is suffering from internal problems, symptoms will often begin developing a few days after the string was ingested, and the symptoms will slowly get worse without treatment. Some symptoms to look out for include:

  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Dry heaves
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Painful abdomen
  • Restlessness
  • Hiding more than usual
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Lethargy

What To Do If Your Cat Has Swallowed A String

If your cat has swallowed a strain, here is what you should do to make sure your pet stays healthy and happy amidst the aftermath:

Double Check For the Location of the String

Before you panic, double-check to make sure the cat hasn’t just moved the string somewhere else. Many times, cats may carry string or other objects in their mouths, but they then drop the item away at another destination. Double-checking the location of the string can help save you some stress in the case that your cat did not swallow the string.

Observe Your Cat

If you cannot find the string, begin observing your cat. Within the first 10 to 24 hours, look through the cat’s stool to see if you can find the string. If you do find it, you know that the string was passed successfully, and you have nothing else to worry about.

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You will also need to pay attention to your cat’s behaviors. Pay close attention to any signs of vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or any of the other symptoms listed above. Keep a close eye on your cat to see if it is hiding more than usual as well.

Take Your Cat to the Vet

If your cat begins to demonstrate any of the above symptoms, take your cat to the veterinarian. A veterinarian will be able to evaluate your cat to ensure it is healthy. If your cat is suffering, your vet will prescribe treatment to get your cat back to 100% soon.

Prevention Is The Best Treatment

Because cats are such curious creatures, try to keep strings and other tempting objects away from the cat. Preventing your cat from eating string in the first place is the best course of action.

Final Thoughts

If your cat swallows string, don’t immediately panic. In some cases, the cat will just pass the string and not miss a beat in the process.

That being said, your cat can develop serious side effects and complications after swallowing the string. Keep a close eye on your cat so you can act quickly if these symptoms arise. If you notice that your cat is acting funny, take your cat to a veterinarian for evaluation. A veterinarian will be able to treat the cat and provide you peace of mind.

For future reference, try to keep strings and other small objects picked up so that your cat is not tempted to swallow the foreign body again.