Play it Safe: Yarn Kills Cats

cats say no to yarn

Seeing kittens and cats playing with yarn is cute but it can kill. During the Super Bowl weekend I was watching a really funny cat video when my heart sank seeing the cats playing with balls of yarn,  It was one of those last straw moments when something snapped in me and I said, enoughPlay it safe! NO MORE YARN! Or string, ribbons, thread or even dental floss. Yarn or other linear object can get twisted around the tongue or once ingested twisted in the intestines causing a blockage. Cats find yarn irresistible but once they begin swallowing they can’t stop. We all know how rough and sandpapery a cat’s tongue is. It’s thanks to tiny hooked barbs on the tongue called papillae which help cats groom themselves spotless. Those same little barbs prevent swallowed yarn or string from being vomited out.

If your cat has swallowed yarn or has string hanging out from their mouth or anus, call your vet or emergency clinic. The good news is a vet will likely be able to save your cat’s life but it may involve abdominal surgery. And you’ll be stuck with a big vet bill. The worst case scenario? A big vet bill and a dead cat. Just say no to yarn. Keep yarn, sting, ribbons and any potentially cat hazard safely stored away. If you see advertising for products depicting cats playing with yarn, ask them to stop.

32 thoughts on “Play it Safe: Yarn Kills Cats”

  1. I’m so glad you posted this. I am always nagging people at the animal rescue where I volunteer about this problem. Groups are always making toys for the cats (kudos to them for that!) that have yarn or curling ribbon.

    Another problem is teaser toys if they have just plain string or cord attaching the teaser to the wand. I found a kitten once that had managed to wrap the string from the toy around her neck several times. She looked so upset!

    I think it’s always best to only bring out teaser toys if someone is there to supervise play.

  2. Wow! I wouldn’t give yarn to a cat anyway, but I had no idea about their tongues preventing them from being able to stop swallowing it! Scary!

  3. Yes! Thank you so much for spreading the word about this! So many we’ll-intentioned cat owners aren’t aware of this.

    I’m so excited to find your blog! I am a cat lover, so I’ll definitely be back! #SITSblogging

  4. I found ribbon while wrapping Christmas gifts to be especially intriguing to our old cat. It is important to not wrap gifts around your kitty I guess. Good thing, tinsel on Christmas trees is not common anymore.

  5. PepiSmartDog: Oh my goodness, one of my sisfurs, Tahni, ate some dental floss! “She” saw it hanging out of Tahni’s mouth and pulled it back up just in time. *scream*
    Thank you for joining Thankful Thursday Weekly Blog Hop and hope you’ll come back again. We look forward to reading your post for this week. :=o)

  6. TW was appalled when she saw kittens playing with yarn during the Kitten Bowl on TV. She freaked and mentioned it online. I thought that’s what this blog was going to talk about. TW doesn’t like wand toys with long strings for a different reason: she’s always afraid it’ll wrap around my neck when I jump and I’ll strangle myself when I come down.

  7. Thank you Layla for this wonderful post! Our babies are exposed to soooooooooo many hazards just because of their natural curiousity! We must be ever on watch with these guys.
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig and Peanut and Romeo >^..^<

  8. Thank you so much for this article, this was one of the most helpful for us. My kids love to play with yarn with the cats and I will be revising our playtime now.

  9. Definitely don’t leave string toys out unattended. I heard of a kitten getting wrapped up once and almost choked if her person hadn’t happened to walk into the room because he was late for work. Danger!

  10. There are signs all over the PAWS shelter warning people not to leave any string toys out where cats can reach them. Good advise.
    At home we’re careful too. The added advantage is that when the string toys are brought out from their hiding places for play sessions, the cats are much more excited to see them.

  11. we can ree late ta thiz…manee manee moonz ago…R cuzin perkolator eated tinsel off de Christmas tree…N veree sad lee…. her dinna make it


  12. Thanks for a great advice. Sadly many people think it’s common for cats to play with yarn, because there are many postcards and pictures with such a theme. I don’t know why…

  13. My cat ate the ribbon from a balloon while she was staying at my sisters house, thank god she noticed the missing ribbon quickly and brought her to the vet right away. They were able to sedate her and using a scope they pulled many many small pieces out through her mouth, no abdominal surgery needed. The vet bill still was pretty pricey though!

  14. This is great info! Our Zoey is a string eater, so we can’t have any toys with string…or if we do, we are totally supervised and when we’re done, the toys are put away. Zoey has eaten string…fortunately she pooped it out without having to have surgery.

  15. Interactive, fishing type toys with items like feathers or catnip mice hanging on strings or elastic from wands also need to be carefully supervised. Binga has a habit of chewing through the string – and then eating it. So these toys are hidden when my human isn’t there to play with us.

  16. Wow, that is so adorable. Trick photography not withstanding. So adorable.

    Yeah, we had a Siamese who’d sample some round roast and then eat the roast beef string, and it would hang from her rear. We’d pull it right out. Only happened twice. After that, we made sure we’d put away all meats while sitting at the table.

    1. Thanks, I had fun making this despite the not so fun message. That’s another potential hazard. Thanks for mentioning. Roast chicken, ready-made or not has string as well. I bought one this week that had a new stretchy type cord that would be very dangerous because of the taste and smell of chicken.

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