Here’s Why Cats Should Never Play With Yarn

playing with yarn

There’s something whimsical about a kitten innocently playing with a ball yarn. It’s a picture-perfect scene we’ve grown up to love, but yarn and cats aren’t as great a pairing as you might think. Almost all cats love to bat around small objects. String seems like a great choice since it changes shape, is light weight, and you probably already have some in the house. Cats that play with yarn, however, are at risk of serious injury. The same goes for cats that choose ribbon, tinsel, or anything else you can tie in a knot. Here’s why.

It’s a Choking Hazard

Yarn and other types of string are soft and pliable. These are usually great characteristics for a cat toy to have, but not when the object is small enough to fit down a cat’s throat. A lot of cats will start off by playfully batting the yarn with their paws, but they almost always put it in their mouths. If they were to accidentally swallow or inhale the yarn, it would get lodged in their throat. Cats are known for choking on yarn, and it turns into a very scary situation.

Gastrointestinal Obstruction

Even if your cat manages to swallow the yarn without choking, they’re still in trouble. Unlike other things your cat could swallow, yarn and other types of string can get wrapped all throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Playing with yarn is fun, but those long pieces will get looped and stretched down the throat, into the stomach, and through the intestines. It’s strong enough to cut through intestinal walls and cause serious and dangerous obstructions. As the intestines attempt to push food through the digestive system, that yarn, string, or tinsel will create tension and get stuck. 

If you happen to catch your cat in the act and see the end of the strong still in their mouth and sticking out of their throat, resist the urge to pull. You have no way of knowing how far into the body that yarn reaches. If it’s wrapped around something or looped through the intestines, pulling it out will cause a lot more harm than good. It’s imperative that you take your cat to the emergency vet right away. They’ll most likely need some kind of surgery to remove the string.


Swallowing yarn isn’t the only risk. When cats really get going, they’ll have an entire ball of yarn unraveled and in a big knotty mess. It’s much too easy for all that string to become wrapped around and tangled on the cat’s foot, leg, tail, or even neck. And without thumbs, they’ll have a hard time getting themselves untangled. 

When this happens, your cat is more likely to make the problem worse than they are to free themselves. The yarn can get wrapped around your cat in a way that cuts off blood flow. It will cause pain and swelling, and if you don’t realize the problem fast enough, it can cause permanent damage.

Protect Your Cat!

Now that you know the dangers surrounding playing with yarn, you can keep your cat safe. It’s unrealistic, however, to get rid of every string-like object that your cat could potentially play with. Besides playing with yarn, ribbon, and tinsel, you’d have to worry about shoe laces, window blind pulls, dental floss, and so many other things. 

Instead of tearing through your home in a panic and tossing everything that looks like string, all you really need to do is be careful about how you store and use certain objects. Keep knitting and sewing supplies in a cat-proof container when you’re not using it. Don’t leave kitchen twine on the counter, and put decorative ribbon away when you’re done using it. You can also wrap up window blind and curtain strings to make them less tempting, and forgo the decorative tinsel around holidays. 

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