How are new-born babies that are too fussy to eat about being fed the most nutritious food by their mother? Most of us would have seen the prettiest shapes of salads when it comes to feeding a child. It is usually what appeals to the eye most that people love to eat. This is also one of the main reasons why restaurants use shades of reds and yellows in their advertisements. Quite similar is the case with our pets. Most of the cat owners would have observed that their cats love to play with a string. Cats have a fascination with strings when it comes to eating or playing with them. They would run around a string haywire. Not only with string, cats love to run around shoe laces or woollen threads. There are a lot of reasons why your cat might be behaving like this.
Why do Cats like to Play with Strings?
1. Similar to tails of rodents or lizards:
Strings are quite similar to the tails of rodents or lizards. The wriggling of the strings ignites in the cats their instincts of teasing the animal. Thus, cats run around the strings chasing them and pouncing upon them as if they were animated.
2. Predator instincts:
While jumping upon the strings, these give them the feeling of a rat or a lizard running by. This makes the felines jump up with their predator instincts and it has an urge to run behind the string like it is its prey. Thus, it is observed that cats chew and try to tear up the strings.
This is a craving that is usually observed in cats. Ineffable as it seems, pica means the craving or chewing of food that has no nutritional value. This could be a string or any sort of paper or a cloth.
4. Learn by playing:
Young cats have the instinct of playing with cats. This helps them develop their predator skills more. Young cats are not able to prey on the rodents easily due to their speed or less developed skills. Thus, they like playing more with strings as they are easily caught by them.
5. Visual sense detectors:
Felines by birth are blessed with the cerebral immunity of judging fast motion. Cat owners might observe that if any object runs beside your cat at a very high speed, their eyes would roll to the direction at the same speed. This happens because of being in tune with the speed simulation.
6. Overcome stress:
Playing with strings helps cats release stress. This happens with the cats whose owners usually stay out and are not able to give the cats enough attention. Thus, to avoid stress, cats play with objects like strings.
7. Similarity to cat tails:
Thicker threads also look like cattails to the felines. This ignites within them the sense of belonging as if there is a cat in the house. This could work contrary as the cat might not want another cat in the house and thus, runs around the thread trying to scratch and chew it up.
8. Material of the cloth:
Though a little unobservable, but this is also one of the factors that influences the cats to play with strings. Cats usually like to play with stuff like carpets and strings which are easier for them to hold and tear apart. Thus, it is always advised to give your cat a material that it can chew and is not harmful. This is usually observed in kittens that are teething.
These are some of the reasons due to which cats love to play around strings.
Why do cats like to eat string?
Along with completely scratching apart the entire thread, cats also tend to eat the string. This has reasons somewhat similar to why cats like to play with strings. The most obvious reason for this is cats having predatory instincts that make them feel that these strings are the mice and lizards that are trying to run away from them. This, with full heat to destroy its prey, the cat pounces upon the string and tries to eat it up.
Another reason that vets suggest this is PICA. Ineffable as this term might sound, PICA is the sudden craving or urge between the cats to chew something that is not nutritious but gives them mental peace. This might not also be a string but any piece of paper or straw.
In case of young kittens, chewing of string helps them in teething properly as it does not cause their gums to bleed. Also, some cats might get addicted to the act of chewing a string. They would mentally imagine themselves chewing on the prey. This becomes a pleasure for most of the cats.
Why do Cats Swallow String?
Along with the chewing of string, some cats have the tendency of swallowing the string. The cats that do so mentally imitate the swallowing of a prey’s body parts. Cats are genetically designed to swallow long entrails when they prey on rodents or reptiles. Thus, cats have the tendency to swallow the strings.
Are there any Dangers of String to Cats?
There are many dangers attached to cats swallowing a string. Vets identify this as ingestion of a linear foreign body. The main problem associated with this is that materials like string do not get ingested in the cat’s body and remain intact. This causes gastrointestinal problems within the cat.
Along with this, the sharp corners or edges of the string might cause irritation in the food passage of the cat. This causes further infection and cats might face issues in eating normal cat food too. Furthermore, the cat tongue consists of sharp spike-like structures which facilitate easy eating and tearing of the prey. But, in case of a string, complications arise when one side of the string gets caught in the base of the tongue and the other side is deep inside the stomach. Emergency vet support is always advised in this case. If the string gets stuck in the intestines, it may cause perforation that leads to an emergency surgery to remove it. This is because the string might cause tissue damages if it crumples.
The strings might also form a lump like structure and choke the passage for a cat. In case the lump gets stuck in the food passage; it is usually taken out using forceps and does not cause much harm. But, in case this lump gets stuck in the windpipe, it may cause severe problems.
For emergencies, this is how the string can be removed from the cat’s body.
Symptoms of cat swallowing a string:
There are chances that you might not even get to know when your cat has swallowed a string. In this case, the string would automatically come out with the faeces. In case some problem has occurred in the cat’s body, following are the symptoms:
3. Loss of appetite
These are the usual symptoms that are observed. There are chances that these symptoms take up time before they are seen in the cat. Thus, it is better that the owner stays observant of the cat’s behaviour.
Treatment for cats that swallow string:
If you see that the cat has swallowed the string and it is protruding through the mouth or the anus of the cat, do not try to pull the string in order to remove it. There are high chances that the string might have been struck in the gastro-intestinal passage. Thus, pulling out of the string would cause more damage to the cat. It is also possible that there might still be some string present in the stomach even if the cat has excreted the string in the faeces.
The cat should be taken immediately to the vet. The vet might perform an X-Ray or an endoscopy to the cat and thus, decide on how the string is to be removed.
If you do not observe any significant symptoms within the cat and the string is protruding from the anus, you can cut it short with scissors so that it becomes easier for the cat to excrete it. However, take your cat immediately to the vet so that proper scanning can be done.
How to keep swallow lover cats out of string?
There are a lot of ways that you can keep swallow lover cats away from strings. Cats that like to swallow string would also develop the tendency to swallow other stuff like straws and laces. Thus, this habit needs to be removed as soon as possible.
The only prevention that you can do here is to keep your cat away from such potentially dangerous materials. Be cautious when you have a cat at home. It is the natural tendency of the cat to swallow the string, thus, the only precaution is that such material should be kept out of the reach of the cat.
Along with this, it is better that you make your cat toys that are not dangerous and big enough for the cat to swallow. The toys available in the market are not safe enough and the cat can ingest it easily. So, why not make your furball a toy at home that resembles a little mouse.
The video to the steps is the given below.
Also, to remove the habit of chewing in your cat, always give it something that it can chew upon. It could be a sock stuffed with some sponge or any safe material.
Thus, this is how you can keep your cat from swallowing strings.
It can be clearly understood that what cats might find fun in could be potentially dangerous for them. It is the responsibility of the owner to see what their cat is doing or observe its behaviour. In the case of PICA, it is mandatory that you take your cat to a behaviour analyst that would suggest some alternatives. People with kids usually tale around all the sockets so that they can keep their children secure. The same behaviour is to be practised with your pets. They are completely dependent upon you for everything and their security should not be taken lightly.
After all, as Albert Schweitzer says, “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.”