Cat toy that looks like yarn but is safe?

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misty8723

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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.
I think things happen so quickly that even playing with it supervised can be dangerous.

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.
 

GreyLady

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Or just make sure kitty isn't in the room. Noodle sometimes wont leave my yarn alone and I have suddenly found my yarn was cut off before... She just chews it in half while Im crocheting ( imagine a pile of loose yarn I have pulled out of the ball on the floor) and I have to tie it back together to continue -_-; Sometimes the only solution is just closing the door.
 

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I think things happen so quickly that even playing with it supervised can be dangerous.
I understand your concern but I think you shouldn’t worry so much.

You asked for an alternative to yarn. A heavy shoelace or a piece of rope is okay for a cat to play with. There is little danger of a cat choking on those.

Nothing in this world is 100% safe, 100% of the time.

What would happen if a cat knocks over a piece of furniture and gets hurt? Anything can happen. Right?

People should either supervise their cats while playing with them or keep an eye out while their cats play by themselves. It’s just basic responsibility.

It is good and right to be cautious about letting a cat play with yarn, unsupervised. If you don’t want to let the cat play with yarn at all, that’s a good decision but it doesn’t pay for people to run around like Chicken Little, worrying about every little thing that could go wrong.

People should enjoy playing with their cats. That’s what cats are for. Right?
If we spend too much time worrying then we don’t have any time left for enjoyment.

Just know the risks and use your judgement.
 

Father of furbabies

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You asked for an alternative to yarn. A heavy shoelace or a piece of rope is okay for a cat to play with. There is little danger of a cat choking on those.
My two furkids have a couple bootlaces scattered around and they play with them randomly. Sometimes Noka will pick up one and drag it through the house which gets Shade's attention. He leaps on it and pins it which causes Noka to try to drag it more. This becomes almost a tug a war between them.

Both of them are entranced by the yarn when my wife is using some and she scolds them if they try to mess with it. Usually when that happens she can just drap the bootlace onto one of them and it distracts them from the yarn as they begin playing with the bootlace.
 
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misty8723

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I understand your concern but I think you shouldn’t worry so much.

You asked for an alternative to yarn. A heavy shoelace or a piece of rope is okay for a cat to play with. There is little danger of a cat choking on those.

Nothing in this world is 100% safe, 100% of the time.

What would happen if a cat knocks over a piece of furniture and gets hurt? Anything can happen. Right?

People should either supervise their cats while playing with them or keep an eye out while their cats play by themselves. It’s just basic responsibility.

It is good and right to be cautious about letting a cat play with yarn, unsupervised. If you don’t want to let the cat play with yarn at all, that’s a good decision but it doesn’t pay for people to run around like Chicken Little, worrying about every little thing that could go wrong.

People should enjoy playing with their cats. That’s what cats are for. Right?
If we spend too much time worrying then we don’t have any time left for enjoyment.

Just know the risks and use your judgement.
Anything can happen at any time, but why do something you know can end badly, even if you're supervising your cat? I just wanted to find some way to get him to not be interested in the yarn. It doesn't matter if I give him a shoelace or earbuds with the tips removed, if I start messing with yarn, he wants it. Once the shoelace isn't moving, he loses interest. Getting his bird out will distract him temporarily, but when I'm swishing the bird around, I can't be knitting. And once the bird stops moving, he loses interest.

The only solution is to be super vigilant, and hope he gets over it.
 
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misty8723

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Or just make sure kitty isn't in the room. Noodle sometimes wont leave my yarn alone and I have suddenly found my yarn was cut off before... She just chews it in half while Im crocheting ( imagine a pile of loose yarn I have pulled out of the ball on the floor) and I have to tie it back together to continue -_-; Sometimes the only solution is just closing the door.
I've occasionally gone in the bedroom and closed the door, but no place to get comfortable except the bed. I've learned to not leave loose yarn anywhere and to put it up high in the closet when I'm not using it.

My other cat Cricket could not care less about it.
 

Caspers Human

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Casper used to attack his Girl-Human’s yarn a lot, at first.

She just told him, “No,” then put the yarn down, petted him and gave him a minute of attention until he calmed down. After several times, he didn’t attack so much.

He still watches her crochet. The dancing yarn captivates him but he knows it’s not allowed.

Every so often, she stops crocheting and plays with Casper using his favorite rope toy.
He knows that, if he’s a “good kitty” he’ll get to play.

Beyond that, she just makes sure that all her yarn is put away when she’s done working.

That’s just life with a cat... ;)
 
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misty8723

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For anyone questioning why I don't want my cat(s) to have access to any yarn:

https://en.thecatsociety.org/tips-and-advice/59edfa02cbaca401804ba687-the-scary-reason-why-you-should-never-let-your-cat-play-with-yarn.html

Dangers Of Yarn: Getting Caught
The first danger is that they will get tangled up in the yarn. Cats love pouncing around their toys, batting at them with their paws, and chasing them. With string objects like yarn, however, this could result in them unrolling too much thread and getting caught, posing a serious strangulation hazard.

They can also get hurt even if they only get a paw or other part of their body wrapped up and stuck. Yarn might be soft and cozy, but it is definitely not stretchy or pliable.

Dangers Of Yarn: Choking
The second potential danger is internal. Cats love chewing on whatever toy (or non-toy) they can get ahold of, which means they could try to swallow the yarn (or actually succeed in doing so). Both possibilities are dangerous.

Because of the backward-facing barbs on their tongues, anything with a soft and shedding texture like yarn can very easily get caught, and once it's caught on their tongue, felines can't spit it back out. That means they will probably try to swallow it, no matter how long the string is.

If they swallow yarn of any length, it can get caught within anywhere from their throat to their digestive system, potentially causing serious blockage or choking issues.

Don't Take Risks
Even if you closely monitor your cat and never leave them alone while they're playing, it's just too easy to miss something. All it takes it to glance down at your phone for a minute, or peer out the window...

The best thing you can do is to simply be extra cautious and keep all your yarn and other sewing materials stored away where your cat can't get to them. The same goes for thread, rubber bands, and any other string-like types of objects.

Note: If you discover that your cat has swallowed string, do not attempt to remove it, even if you can still see part of it in their mouth. Take your cat to a vet immediately.
 
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