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12 Days of...Holiday Hazards, Day 2

12/01/2008

On the second day of the holidays, my true love gave me to...RIBBONS

Yep, ribbons...also yarn, string...all those long skinny things we use to tie up packages and make gifts look festive. They sure do look pretty...especially to cats, who love to play with ribbons and yarn (we've all seen adorable pictures of kittens playing with that cute ball of yarn). Except the problem is that ribbons, yarn, and string are TERRIBLE toys for cats, and very dangerous indeed, striking fear into the heart of veterinarians everywhere.

What could be so bad about a shiny, pretty ribbon? Or a little piece of string, or the traditional ball of yarn? Well, cats do indeed enjoy these items, and they like to take a little taste, or carry the tempting toy around in their mouths...then they end up swallowing a little bit, except of course once you've swallowed the end of a ribbon, there's nothing to do but keep swallowing, till the whole darn thing goes down the hatch.

Why would a cat do this? My theory, as disgusting as it sounds, is that all these long stringy things are a lot like little mousy intestines, something a cat would gulp down in a similar fashion. Problem is, when a cat swallows a ribbon or piece of string, it frequently gets caught in the intestines (or sometimes, especially with thread or dental floss, the end of it will even get caught around their tongue). Once the ribbon is caught in some part of the intestinal tract, the cat's digestive system will keep trying to push it along, which results in a bunching up of the intestine which is very dangerous. Given enough time, the taut piece of string, ribbon, or yarn will actually saw through the intestine, causing a perforation and peritionitis.

To vets, a ribbon lying around the house looks just like a loaded gun. Ditto for string, yarn, thread, and dental floss, even rubber bands. If you have cats, you should feel the same way. Never leave these things anywhere your cat could get a hold of them. If you have gifts with ribbon on them, put them away in a closet until it's time for gift-giving. Once a gift is opened, never leave the ribbons and such lying around - put these away promptly, someplace your cat cannot get into. 

Let me tell you, ribbons may look pretty when you're buying them, but they don't look pretty at all when you take them out of a kitty's intestinal tract at surgery. They look darn ugly then, and extremely expensive too!

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