- Jan 16, 2006
- Reaction score
- North Carolina
I think things happen so quickly that even playing with it supervised can be dangerous.The thing is that cats don't actually "swallow" yarn, per se...
The papillae on the cat's tongue (the tiny, hooklike protrusions that make the tongue feel like sandpaper) point backward, toward the back of the cat's throat. When a cat gets yarn in its mouth, the papillae hook onto the yarn and push it back, down the cat's throat. As the cat tries to spit the yarn out, the action of the papillae only serve to push the yarn farther down. Choking occurs, not because the cat swallowed yarn, but because the yarn piles up and clogs the cat's throat and windpipe.
Shortly after we adopted Casper, we saw him with a piece of yarn in his mouth and I thought he was trying to eat it. I ran over and tried to get him to spit it out but he wouldn't. Little did I know that he COULDN'T spit it out! I pulled the yarn out of his mouth and was surprised to find that there was a good, two FEET of yarn stuck down Casper's throat!
Since then, we do not let Casper play with yarn unless he's supervised with a human holding on to one end at all times.
Casper really likes to play with yarn so much! We feel like we have to let him play, once in a while, so we always make sure that he's supervised when he does. All of Girl-Human's yarn is cleaned up and put away whenever she's not actually using it.
I also get the feeling that Casper, sort of, learned his lesson about yarn and I think he knows that he shouldn't play with yarn unless a human is with him. He just doesn't seem to want to play with yarn or string or ropes unless there is a human on the other end to "make it go" for him.
Casper has had a braided yarn toy for years, now, and it's one of his faves. He's never had an incident with one but, still, whenever his yarn toy gets too frayed up, we throw it out an make a new one.
Casper's "best" yarn toy is made from mop yarn.
If you get a "looped end" yarn mop head from Home Depot, etc., and un-stitch the center part with a seam ripper, you can unwind the mop and get ten or more yards of heavy duty yarn, about a quarter inch thick. It's strong yet soft and pliable.
I made Casper's toy by starting with a piece about ten or fifteen feet long, doubling it over and twisting it then doubling and twisting it again so that it's eight strands thick. All together, it's probably half an inch thick yet it's still "squiggly" like regular yarn. It's strong enough to stand up to Casper's claws and teeth and it's heavy enough that it won't go down his throat.
He's had this particular yarn-rope toy for over a year and it's still going strong.
Casper will actually go to his play area, in the living room, and sit by his yarn-rope toy, looking at you, asking you to "make it go" for him to play with!
I understand the hazard of letting cats play with yarn, unsupervised, but I don't think it's a mortal danger if you understand how problems can happen and know what to watch out for.
Not yarn related, but I have a wand toy that is a stuffed duck on an elastic string. Cricket loves it, but she never has it unsupervised. One day while I was there with her, she took off running, dragging the toy behind her. She was scared and just racing around, with the elastic wound around her leg. I couldn;t get her to stop to let me get it off her. She ran upstairs and under the bed, where I was finally able to get her (I don't even know how I got her to come out she was so scared), and carefully got it off her leg. But it really scared me what could have happened with that, and just how fast it happened and I didn't even see it. I know that pulling yarn out of a cat's mouth can cause serious problems or even death. I'd rather just stop knitting than take a chance at anything like that.