String – a danger to cats
When reading the following article don’t start thinking of abolishing all string type toys from your house.
String type toys are still great fun for kitties, they just need to be packed away once assisted play is over.
You can consider yourself a more educated slave. 😉
Leaving Cats with string toys does not mix, despite the popular image of cats playing happily with string!
While string may seem harmless, the big danger is after it is ingested and making its way down the intestinal tract. This is a condition known as a linear foreign body.
Where Do “Foreign Bodies” Get Stuck?
The digestive tract is essentially a long tube, passing food from the mouth, down the oesophagus, into the stomach, through the lengthy small intestine, then forming stool in the colon and out the rectum.
It generally takes ingesta (all that is swallowed) from 10-24 hours to move through the entire digestive tract. Some objects, however, can actually remain in the stomach for longer periods of time, even months.
When objects are too large to pass, they usually obstruct at the stomach outflow or within the small intestine itself. With linear foreign bodies, the continual movement of the intestinal tract can literally bunch the intestines into an accordion-like mass. String-like objects can also “gather up” during intestinal peristalsis (wavelike muscular contractions) and shred delicate tissues like the intestinal tract.
If the foreign body has managed to move to the colon, it will probably successfully pass. But, defecating a sharp object may prove painful and may even need veterinary assistance.
Never pull protruding objects from your pet’s rectum or throat. If it is still lodged inside, you can cause serious damage to the internal tissues.
The first signs seen are:
there may be part of the string visible from the mouth, under the tongue or protruding form the anus. There are other medical signs that kitty has swallowed a foreign object too.:
Clinical signs may include any of the following:
- vomiting or dry heaves
anorexia or decreased appetite
straining to defecate or diarrhea
dehydration (due to vomiting)
Definition: Pronunciation Key: Lin-ee-er For-ehn Bod-y
A linear foreign body is any sting-like object ingested (or partially ingested) that causes gastrointestinal obstruction. String, ribbon, thread (often with needle attached), plastic, rubber bands, Easter grass and tinsel are common linear foreign bodies.
This type of obstruction can be life-threatening very quickly. Both cats and dogs can suffer from this, although as one could guess, it is much more common in cats.
Why do cats eat odd things? (A condition called pica.)
Reasons vary, but can be related to stress, boredom, attention seeking behaviour, play behaviour, or to the simple fact that the item tastes/smells good to the cat.
Safe toys for kitties:
Fake mice: Catnip pillows and mice: ( some are sold with glued on eyes etc which are a choking hazard)
Ping Pong Balls: Drop a ping pong ball in a box and let kitty enjoy
Empty Plastic Bags: although this one makes me nervous and I watch closely. I find cutting off the handles is a good precaution.
Use a torch to act as fast-moving prey. Cats can chase the beam for ages and they may even stalk it.
Make a self-serve treat toy. Put some dry cat food or cat treats inside an uncapped plastic cold drink bottle.
Old plush toys can be fun too.
Just remember – toys with string need to be packed away after assisted play.
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