Keeping Cats Safe: Cats and Foreign Bodies

Hi everyone,

Please find below the latest entry in the iCatCare Keeping Cats Safe

For this month’s Keeping Cats Safe topic we’re looking at foreign bodies (objects originating outside the body) and cats.

As we’ve discussed with plants and with household chemicals, the assumption that cats are fussy eaters is no guarantee that they won’t eat something that they shouldn’t, and the ingestion of foreign bodies is actually quite common. It’s more likely that young cats, who are generally more curious, will ingest foreign bodies, and cats kept solely indoors may be more likely to eat something they shouldn’t if they don’t have adequate stimulation in their environment

If you believe that your cat has swallowed a foreign body, it’s important to consult your vet. You shouldn’t assume things will ‘pass through’ as they often don’t. Some signs that an object is causing an issue include:

  • Refusing food
  • Lethargy
  • Retching
  • Vomiting

Cats can hide illness well, so they may just seem to sleep more and be less keen to interact. If you notice any such signs then speak to a vet, as early treatment is important in ensuring things don’t get worse.

Below we have listed some foreign bodies that are commonly reported to have been ingested by cats.

Needles and thread

String and string-like objects are some of the most common, and if ingested they can cause the intestine to bunch up and make the cat very unwell, usually requiring surgery to remove the item.

String, rubber bands and fibres

Hair bands and rubber bands along with the string found around meat are also commonly ingested, along with fibres and stuffing from inside cat toys, carpet fibres, ribbon, dental floss, blind cords and tinsel.

Small objects

Small round objects seem irresistible to some cats but unfortunately they are the perfect size to block the intestines and require surgery to remove them. Coins, together with buttons, earplugs, fruit stones, nut shells, bottle tops and almonds are not uncommon.


Bones can also cause a problem to bin-raiding cats, as cooked chicken bones in particular can be very sharp and lodge in the intestinal system causing severe illness.

Keep up to date with the rest of our Keeping Cats Safe campaign here.

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