Are dental floss and string dangerous for cats?

Dr, Barchas, I have a 2-year-old calico that ate a good length of dental floss. I could not get to her in time to get...


Dr, Barchas, I have a 2-year-old calico that ate
a good length of dental floss. I could not get to
her in time to get it out of her mouth. It’s been 2
days and a few hours now and she has not passed
it. She is acting normal and nothing looks like
there is anything wrong. What can I do at home to
get her to pass it? Im so worried about her.

Hope Shepherd
Wyoming, Felton, DE

Everyone knows that cats like to play with string, dental floss, and thread. What is not commonly known is that cats often swallow these long, thin playthings.

Most cases of thread or floss swallowing do not cause problems. However, there are exceptions. For instance, if a needle happens to be attached to thread that is swallowed, trouble is not far off.

Even without a needle, floss and string can still cause problems when swallowed. If something anchors them in the body, they can cause the intestines to bunch up. This is a life-threatening emergency that requires surgery.

Cats facing this scenario usually feel sick. They may be lethargic. They may vomit or refuse to eat.

Since your cat feels well, it is unlikely that she is suffering from bunched intestines. Your best bet is to continue to allow her to eat normally. The time it takes for objects such as floss to pass through the intestines varies among individuals, and I suspect that the floss will make an appearance soon.

There are two things to remember while you are waiting. First, if your cat becomes ill, take her to the vet immediately. Second, if the floss starts to pass from the anus, do not pull on it. Pulling can damage the intestines. Instead, carefully use scissors to trim the floss near the anus.

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