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Sewing and Cats–a caveat

Theodora | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi, all,

I know we are all responsible pet owners. I think I am too, but every once in a while, we slip up, so I’m reminding all of you kitty lovers out there to keep a vigilant eye out.

My cat Silverbelle just came successfully out of an hour of surgery to remove about 15 inches of quarter inch wide elastic from her stomach and intestine.

I was suspicious yesterday, since she had been feeling low for more than a day, and she had emerged the day before from the sewing room with a guilty look. And I just knew…….she sucks down latex based elastic like it is spaghetti. Several times I have seen the last inch passing over her lips just in time to grab it, and pull out many wet inches of elastic. It’s practically cat floss! Well, I didn’t get it this time.

This morning, she was still low and slow, not eating, and barfing. I could hear her bowel sounds, and she cried in pain when I picked her up. I knew what it was. So in we went, and a barium xray confirmed the suspicion.

I hope she recovers, but this is a hard lesson for me to learn, at a thousand dollars and counting, assuming there are no post surgical complications. That’s a thousand dollars I’d rather have spent on gorgeous fabrics.

So, sewists, learn from my mistake, and be vigilant with the stringy things around the kitties. The vet said this happens all the time, and she has just removed some narrow ribbon from a kitty a few days ago.


“No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch. “ ~Leo Dworken


  1. Elisabeth | | #1

    A friend told me a story about a cat that ate some sparkly plastic easter basket grass. It came out the other end fortunately and all was well so we found some humor in that story. But your story is serious, I am so sorry you had to go through all that. Cats do eat all sorts of stringy things and our homes are filled with indigestible stringy things.

    May Silverbelle have a speedy recovery.

  2. SewingWriter | | #2

    Theodora, my heart goes out to you.  This topic is sure to spark a wealth of sympathy and advice to all pet owners.  I don't have cats, but I do have dogs.  Pet owners should know that wads of clear nylon monofilament thread are also very attractive -- and dangerous -- to pets.  From personal experience, I know that another attractive target is a pin cushion or cloth needle case, probably because they retain the odor of our hands.

  3. GALEY | | #3

    Cats are part of my earliest memories; I know how important yours is to you!  A cat will especially pick up a piece of  yarn, esp. wool, or a thread.  If there happens to be a needle on it, it's life-threatening to the kitty.  Theodora, a "cat person" is my kind of person. 

    1. Theodora | | #4

      Thank you for the good wishes.


      Silverbelle is recovering quite nicely in spa-like circumstances at the hospital, charming all who care for her. I stopped in today and the vet had graciously saved the contents of her digestive system for my perusal in a small zip lock bag.

      There was about 11 inches of 1/4 inch elastic, but there was also a length of the wax paper tape that comes off of basting tape, and about four inches of 1/2 inch wide twill tape. She went for the salad bar.

      Security measures are being installed in the sewing room in her absence.

      1. carolfresia | | #5

        I'm glad to hear Silverbelle is recovering well. I don't have a cat--my husband is very allergic, alas--but it's probably just as well because my sewing room would be very dangerous to feline company. Thanks for the warning!


        1. Bernie1 | | #6

          I always worry about my kitty sticking her paw under the needle when I'm at the machine. I have to keep kicking her off my sewing table. I had a cat that used to eat Christmas tinsel. We stopped using it. Glad to hear your kitty is doing well and that you are kitty-proofing your sewing studio.

          1. edgy | | #7

            Not only do elastics and ribbons in the sewing room need to be boxed up or put in drawers, but also rubber bands in the home office -- a great love of our 2 furry ones!!nancy

          2. Mellsie | | #8


            I have always had cats and love them dearly. One of two current cats is our silver tabby Silverius Maximus - or Sylvie to his friends - who is the one cat past or present of whom I am most fond. He is a bold fellow who also loves to join in your activities, like relaxing on the couch, knitting, and sewing.

            I gave him a little "aversion therapy" one day when he kept trying to play with the enticing, jumping foot and needle on my machine (I shooed him off a couple of times, but he would sneak back, and I didn't notice since I was intent on my work). I decided to solve this problem once and for all.

            Here's the aversion therapy: 1) put waste fabric under presser foot, 2) sew a little to attract cat and introduce "the first noise", 3) now comes "the second noise": when cat is in vicinity BUT NOT TOO CLOSE stomp on that foot pedal and hold it down to the floor firmly, creating an awful full throttle sewing machine thunder, until the cat is in the next room (SM took about 1 second to get out of there). (Warn young children or the sensitive first.) I used my Bernina for this, and even such a relatively quiet machine on full is probably enough to startle any cat away for good. You might not want to try this with older cats - you don't want Sweetie-pie to go into cardiac arrest!

            I hope no one is offended by my scaring an innocent housecat, but I did this for his own good, since I am not going to be able to watch for him and sew at home at the same time (I don't have that legendary oasis, the "sewing room") - and I don't intend to give up the sewing or the cat.


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