I'm sure you've seen any number of those adorable pictures of kittens eating balls of string. They were basically memes before memes became a thing. But just like those pics of kittens consuming milk (which is actually pretty terrible for them and can cause diarrhea), cats eating balls of string are equally misrepresented as positive when in reality, they are anything but. Basically, you should stop giving your cats access to yarn or wool ASAP. Here's why.
Last week, a cat came into the PPAC with a history of vomiting and not eating. A physical exam showed that the kitty had a painful belly. Now, when a cat is puking like that, the first thing to do is to look under the cat's tongue to see if there is a string. Dr. S. took a peek and there was no string. So, he treated the kitty for the vomiting with subcutaneous fluids and anti-emetics.
The next day, the client came back in with the poor kitty who was not getting any better and continued vomiting. Calling in a backup crew to restrain the cat and really get in there, they saw that the cat had a cut in his frenulum—the tissue under the tongue where the tongue connects to the rest of the mouth. The string had gotten wrapped around there and couldn't move as a result. So, they sedated the poor thing, removed the offending string and the cat was good to go.
So why does string make cats vomit?
Simple. When cat's eat and swallow string, it often gets caught around the frenulum. In the mean time, the string passes into the stomach and intestines. With normal intestinal movement the intestines try to move the string along and out of the body. But since the string is anchored around the tongue, the loops of intestine back up like an accordion pleat. As you might imagine, this can get pretty serious depending on how long the string is in there so again, PLEASE keep string from your kitty's probing paws.
At least we no longer have those cassette tapes, a previously loved delicacy from the feline community and, a huge offender in the swallowed string category.
Til' next time,