Martha S. likes to use pieces of twine to play with her cat, Blackie, but her daughter told her that it was a bad idea. Martha writes:
Martha, let's start with the bad news. Cats and string are a deadly combination. Due to the barbs on a cat's tongue, stringy things can easily be swallowed. There have even been instances where cats were surgically opened up and lots of hair bands were found inside. Once inside the intestinal tract, stringy objects can wreak havoc with your cat's digestive system and can even block his ability to absorb nutrients from his food. Sometimes the string will come out the other end, but that also creates dangers.
WARNING: Never, ever pull on a string that's sticking out of a cat's throat or anus. You can actually cause terrible damage by doing so. Instead, get the cat to your veterinarian as quickly as possible.
So, Martha, if that's the bad news, you're probably wondering what the good news could possibly be. The good news is that there are some stringy toys that Blackie may like just as much as the twine. It may take a little trial and error, but we're certain that you'll find something Blackie will like. One of our favorites is this rainbow cat charmer.
How does it differ from the twine? Well, the main difference is its thickness. Blackie would be hard pressed to get any of the toy into his esophagus.
There is one other bit of good news. If you'd like to continue to play with Blackie using the twine, you can do so, but you'll need to be diligent. The twine must never leave your hand. You can achieve this by tying a slip knot at one end and using it to secure the twine to your wrist. And when you're done playing, be certain that you put it away where Blackie can't get to it.
Thank you for loving Blackie enough to try and keep him happy, Martha. Any senior cat would be lucky to have a caregiver like you!