Should I Let My Cat Play With Yarn?

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Cats go crazy about little items such as thread, yarns, and other string-like objects. Yarn is one such thing that cats love to pick and play. They are light in weight, come in different shapes, and can be easily carried away. You see cats play and spend their time goofing around with it.


However, most owners have fear when the cats play with the yarn. They can cause some serious damage to the pet if they swallow the pieces or get lodged in the throat while playing. It has led to serious questioning from the pet owners like “Should I let my cat play with yarn?” Well! This article will help you understand this problem in detail. Read further to know more.


What is the concern with Yarn?



Foreign materials

When a cat is playing with yarn, it may swallow it. The piece will get to the gastrointestinal tract and be there as a foreign material for a long time. In such a case, the cat will start vomiting and try to send it out of the body. Until this piece is inside the body, it irritates the stomach and causes obstruction. The cat will not be able to eat properly during this period, and continuous vomiting will make your kitty feel fatigued.



For many cats, chewing yarns is appealing, and hence the moment they see it, they tend to eat the same. It is highly unsafe as the yarn material can choke and get lodged in the throat. There is a chance that a small piece could get stuck and cause breathing trouble. It needs immediate attention, and you may have to reach the vet. You have to dislodge the yarn piece as it can lead to issues such as breathlessness or trouble swallowing food.



Blockages are too dangerous for the cat. Here, surgery is absolutely necessary to remove the object from the body. Yarn can be very problematic since they are long pieces, and there are chances to get looped inside the body. In such cases, you will need assistance from vets to remove the thread from the gastronomical tract. There might be times when the yarn piece is stuck in these tracts, and the owner hasn’t realized it at the right moment. It had lead to abdominal infection resulting in indigestion and inflammation.



Yarn is always fun to play. But when the cat is playing with it, the yarn can get tangled around the body. It gets twisted between legs, feet, and tail especially. During this time, the entangled yarn cuts off the blood supply from the cat’s body. It will cause extreme pain, and the body parts might get swollen.


If the yarn is not removed at the right time, the looping can even result in tissue death. The most common parts that get affected are usually toes, feet, and nails. As the yarn gets wrapped around them too tightly, it will even lead to strokes and other neuro problems.


What to do when a cat swallows yarn?

The first and foremost thing you need to do is induce vomiting in the cat. The second alternative is you can also use some tablets to clean and washout the stomach. Check out the stomach cleaning tablets for cats which help remove unwanted waste from the body. It efficiently cleans the intestine and removes the yarn and other similar items. But in case neither of these options is working, then you must visit the vet as early as possible.



Do not wait because, in the meantime, anything severe may happen to the cats leading to major surgery or removal of a small part of the intestine, etc. In order to avoid these complicated situations, it is also necessary that you keep your cats safe and ensure that they do not indulge in such mischievous activities. Understanding why cats love to fool around with string-like material will help you think of other cats’ alternatives to play.


What does your cat like about the yarn?

Even though there are a plethora of theories concerning the right answer, here in the following table, we have listed out the handpicked opinions.


What makes the cats like the yarn?

Instincts As you very well know, cats have outstanding instincts when it comes to suspicious and mysterious things. Like how hunting instincts work for them, the movement of strings and yarn gives them an impulsive rush. They may assume it like a snake or insect that moves. Hence it causes them to urge to pick it up or follow them as and when they move.
Shape and Texture Even if not for yarn, usually cats are very fond of the new fabric or any upholstery. They readily pick up or scratch the carpets and sofas because of the texture. Especially if it’s smooth surfaces, they would want to play with it. Similarly, they love to play with the new shaped items. If you had kept the yarn in a ball shape, they would have rushed to take it out and play. Shape and texture play a major reason for the cats to play with the yarn.
Satisfaction When you have the usual play objects at your home, such as laser toys or interactive toys, the cats might have to chase it for playing with them. But a yarn ball is stagnant, and it can be caught very easily by the cat. It gives a sense of satisfaction, and they want to play with it more. The emotion here is more inclined towards how they finally snatch the prey and have it like a reward.
Entertainment Imagine if you are given a toy of your favorite choice and let you play with them for an entire day. That is what happens in the case of cats. For your fluffy pet, it is a dream-come-true moment. They may enjoy playing with the dangling string of toys. With the entire ball of yarn to themselves, it is very entertaining for them. The yarn is bigger, longer, and never-ending. Hence there is more space for them to be engaged and entertained for long hours without any disturbance.




Is it only yarn?

Even though your pet will stop as soon as the string catches the attention, their fun time will have potential health risks. It is not just restricted to yarn. Many other materials, especially string-like materials, lead to several potential problems for the fluffy pal. The following table will give you an idea about the objects that you need to be careful of.


Material type

What type of problem can they cause?

Ribbon You would have seen many cute pictures online where the cat is decked with ribbons. However, this can be highly dangerous for a cat when it comes to playing with them. It can cause obstruction immediately, and it will lead to blood clots, especially near the throat. The cat cannot breathe easily during this type of obstruction.
Threads When the pet owners approach the vet for suspicious vomiting and diarrhea in the cat, they have found the stomach’s threaded pieces. There have been cases where the cat has inhaled small pieces of thread, leading to surgery. Therefore it is not safe for them to play with the threaded objects.
Shoelaces The cats choose to play with shoe laces because they assume it’s a snake. Since it is part of the footwear that you are wearing, they would want to pick them immediately. As soon as they catch it, the cats tend to chew it. The germs from outside will get inside the body, causing toxic problems inside them.
Dental floss Dental floss is very minute, and you may never know if your cat has swallowed them. Many owners have complained that the cat is not eating properly or they puke as soon as they eat. You can find the object in the body only through X-Ray. It can get complicated if the floss gets wounded in the intestines.
Twine While playing the twine, the cats get wounded, especially in the leg area. There is a chance that they will fall when they try to come out of it. Also, twine has sharp edges on both sides, which can even hurt the cat leading to blood loss. You may always have to keep an eye when they are picking the twine, or it is better to keep the twine ball away from the cats.



Similar to the items mentioned above, there are other strings like material that will cause such problems. It can include curtain strings, rubber bands, tinsel, ropes, hair types, and more. All of them have high potential risks both externally and internally.  From choking, obstruction to entanglement and constriction, they can put the cat in the most dangerous situations.


How will you find that your cat has eaten the yarn?

Almost for any owner, it will be difficult to understand if the cat has swallowed the string. Unless the cats show some symptoms, you may not be able to find out. Vomiting is the common sign that your cat has swallowed the string. Secondly, the signs of pain in the stomach or abdominal area are also common in cats. Watch the cats carefully. If the strings or yarn has lodged in the intestine, your cat will try to exit the material out. During this time, it will cause bloody diarrhea in them due to an aggressive push for excretion. If you see similar weird behavior in cats, you may necessarily have to take the cat to the vet. Unless you do the internal scanning, you may not be able to confirm if your cat has swallowed any foreign objects.  In such cases, medical assistance is needed.


Look for the symptoms and treatments

If your vet can locate the yarn material that is recently lodged, he will try to push it out by inducing vomiting. If it’s stored internally somewhere, then it can be retrieved through endoscopy. A flexible tube is attached to the camera and sent to the stomach via the mouth. Through proper scanning, the string is located and can be easily removed. This process does not involve too much time. Although, for safety purposes, the cat is given anesthesia before the procedure starts.


Apart from all this, if your cat is developing continuous illness and the yarn gets stuck in crucial organs internally, vets suggest the surgery. Depending upon the seriousness of the problem, your cat may have to be at the medical center for longer days. It will also include certain medications after the surgery.


How to keep your cats safe while playing?

There is no standard advice that one can give about keeping the cats safe while playing. Because every cat is different and their energy level differs, so are their playing methods. However, you can remember some common key points. Hence there will not be any further complications.


Feeding toys: Usually, cats tend to eat or chew the strings, yarn, or fabric to keep them mentally engaged. Depending on how fast they chew these items, you can understand the emotion. For instance, the cat which is stressed may chew the strings very fast. If they are chewing it or eating very slow, then they are probably lonely. Hence to keep them engaged, you can provide the cats with feeding toys and accessories.


Toy alternatives: There are usually many toy alternatives such as crinkle balls, catnip mice, and feather wands. It can be a very effective method to keep your cat distracted from yarn materials. Especially for the kittens, this may also induce them to be active and play with it for longer. There are realistic flopping fishes that can be used to distract the cat easily. Check the Potarama Moving Fish online, as they have some amazing results in controlling cat behavior.


Common safety: You may probably have to shift these yarn materials and keep them out of reach from the cats. Have a separate area where your cats cannot see these materials. For example, the top of the drawer or inside the drawer may be the best place, so your cats cannot see it.


Your cats will tend to be seemingly amazing energized & curious about the items that they are newly seeing. From a little age, you may have to train them not to play with these objects. Always offer them toys that do cause any obstruction and constrictions. Whenever you see your fluffy cat eating or chewing the yarn, be firm in taking it away from them immediately rather than waiting for them to get entangled or wounded by these materials.

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