Why Does My Cat Eat His String Toys?

You may have seen your little kitten playing with a string toy. All of the sudden, you see him gobble up the string! Why does he do that? It turns out there are many reasons why your cat might enjoy eating his toys. Let’s take a look at some possible explanations here.

Why Does My Cat Eat His String Toys?

Cats will attempt or eat their string toys out of curiosity, instinct, stress, or if they suffer from Pica. Both kittens and adult cats love to play with string, yarn, dental floss, etc, but they are not the safest toys. In fact, many veterinarians recommend avoiding string toys altogether.

If you’re a new cat owner, it can be confusing to know which toys are good for your feline friend and which should be avoided. Let’s take a closer look at why some cats, regardless of age tend to eat their string toys, instead of playing with them.

We’ll also take a look at what you should do if they swallow the string, as well as some alternative safer toys for your cat.

Reasons Why Cats Eat String


Cats are naturally curious animals, and if they smell something interesting on the toy, it may peak their interest enough to take a bite or two! They may not intend to eat the string, but cats have little spines known as “papillae” that look like barbs. You may have noticed them when your cat licks you, it feels like sandpaper.

When they tear off a piece of the string, it can get caught on the papillae, making it hard for them to spit out The only option is to swallow it and hope it comes out the other end.

This is why you should monitor your cat’s playtime closely with any type of new toy. Whenever you notice a toy tearing apart, replace it immediately with a new one.


A cat’s natural instinct is to eat and hunt. Meaning, when they see an unusual toy with string, shoelaces, or a piece of floss on the ground, they will try to eat it.

String toys move in a similar way as to prey, in that it twists, curls, and bounces up and down. You’ve likely seen those videos on YouTub where a cat chases a feather toy with a string on it.

Cats go crazy for it and will run themselves wild trying to catch it trying to kill it with their teeth. The problem is, sometimes pieces of string can get caught in their throat and bring about serious health problems.

Stress and Boredom

A bored cat is one that goes looking for trouble. They will sneak their way into cabinets, overturning the trash can, or eat anything that looks remotely edible.

If your cat is left at home for long periods of time with nothing to do, he may start looking for something to play with– even if it means eating his toys.

This is why it’s important to have a variety of stimulating toys and games for your cat to play with, especially if you’re away from home for long periods of time.


One of the most serious reasons why cats may eat their string toys is because they suffer from a disorder known as Pica. This is when a cat has an uncontrollable urge to eat non-food items such as fabric, string, leaves, or even poop.

If your cat suffers from Pica and has been eating string toys for more than just a few days– please take him to the vet immediately! This can be fatal if not treated within 24-48 hours after ingestion of foreign objects.

Is It Safe For Cats to Play With String Toys?

String toys are not safe for kittens, adults, or senior cats. If swallowed, the string can cause a gastrointestinal blockage that can result in death. As a pet owner, you should be aware of some of the signs and symptoms that can result from a cat swallowing string.

Signs Your Cat Ate String

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain (when you pick her up)
  • Dry Heaves
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Dehydration

Some cats may show some or no signs at all, depending on how much of the string they swallowed.

What To Do If Your Cat Swallows String?

The best thing to do to prevent a cat from eating a string toy is to not bring one into the house. Remove all the cat toys, string, yarn, shoelaces, etc so your cat can’t access it.

If your cat does eat one, monitor your cat for any complications. If it was a small piece, the cat should pass the string in its feces in 10-24 hours. Resist the urge to pull the string out of their mouth, even if it’s only partly swallowed.

Doing can risk damage to the esophagus, which will result in vomiting or choking. Instead, pick the cat and toy up and take them immediately to the vet or emergency clinic.

The veterinarian will be able to remove the string and perform a complete checkup of the oral cavity, including underneath the tongue.

Alternative To String Toys for Cats

There are a variety of safe and stimulating toys that your cat can play with, such as catnip toys, balls, or even a simple cardboard box. Always check the label, and make sure you’re buying a toy based on their age and activity level.

If you’re not sure what to get your feline friend, ask your veterinarian for some suggestions. They will be more than happy to help!

We know that some people will still purchase string toys for cats because cats love them. If you do happen to purchase a string toy for your cat, make sure they only play with it while you’re supervising or playing with them.

When you see the cat chewing the string, immediately stop playing with them and put the toy away. This way, you can ensure that your cat won’t eat it by mistake.

Final Word

When a cat swallows a piece of string from a toy, shoelace, etc, it’s likely they were bored and it got caught on the papillae of their tongue. Cat’s don’t normally swallow strings unless they suffer from health issues such as pica.

Cats are curious creatures and the as a pet parent it’s up to you to provide the safest and most stimulating toys for your feline friend.

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