My Cat Ate A Rubber Band: What Owners Need To Know

Common household items like rubber bands can be a big hazard to cats. If a kitty swallows one, it can be a big cause for concern. Learn what to do if your cat ate a rubber band.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: March 9, 2023 | 10 min read

Cute cat playing hair band or rubber band while lying on the floor

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Cats love to play with human things, this is no secret. While this behavior is cute and can seem like harmless fun, many human items are not safe for kitties to play with. Owners often witness their kitty eating plastic, dirt, grass, cloth, tissue, and other non-edible objects. Rubber bands are a favorite item for felines to bat around the kitchen floor. While this is expected behavior, it is extremely risky.

When a purr baby does get a hold of a rubber band, there is always the possibility that it might eat it. This is a big fear for many pet owners, and it can be hard to know what to do. Should a kitty be rushed to the vet? What if they seem okay, but an owner knows for certain they ate something they should not have?

Feline owners are always worried about their pets ingesting something harmful, and rubber bands are a huge concern. We discuss this issue in detail and get to the bottom of what to do if your cat ate a rubber band.

Rubber Bands

Rubber bands are a common household item, often used to keep cords wrapped up tight, to keep money or papers bundled together, and on many products we purchase. These stretchy little rings have so many uses it’s hard to list them all. People use them for everything from bookmarks to keeping sippers in place. The stretchy bands of varying sizes are often made from natural rubber and are an eco-friendly product. They are made from sap harvested from trees. The process does not hurt the tree. They can be reused and recycled and are biodegradable, though it takes a long time, about 50 years, to break one down.

Why Cats Like Rubber Bands

Cat plays with multicolored Elastic Rubber Band, Nylon Rubber Band On a white background
What’s not to like about rubber bands? These are everything a feline wants to play with. Stretchy, bouncy, and perfect for chasing all over the house.

Plus, felines love to play with string and similar types of objects. Felines love to hunt, and kitties kept inside are very good at finding things to play with. Humans often have these lying around, on desks, or even accidentally dropped on the floor. Access is sometimes fairly easy, and these make interesting, fun toys. Cats are inquisitive, and anything new is going to pique their interest. They may not specifically seek these out, but if one finds its way to cross their path, it is game on.

Are Rubber Bands Dangerous To Cats?

Yes, these are dangerous to cats because they are a choking hazard and can cause serious internal blockages. Swallowing one can be fatal to a feline, so owners must be very careful about handling this situation. They can cause obstructions in the esophagus and the digestive system. This can quickly become a serious, even fatal, issue.

Possible Problems

This can be very uncomfortable for a feline and may cause a variety of immediate concerns, including:

  1. Choking and trouble breathing, blockage in the throat.
  2. They can get tangled around the teeth and tongue.
  3. Blockage in the digestive system.
  4. Can cause injury to an animal’s insides.
  5. Disruption or blockage in the blood flow to organs causes the organ to start to die. This is called necrosis.
  6. Can cause intestines to fold in upon themselves, causing internal bleeding and infection. This is called intussusception.
  7. They can get stuck in the throat, preventing them from ingesting food or water.

This can become a life-threatening emergency for a feline if it causes bowel or esophageal obstruction. Thinking a cat ingested one is not something to ignore or brush off.

My Cat Swallowed A Rubber Band, What Happens Now?

Young black cat playing with rubber band
It is vital to know the risks and do as much as possible to keep these hazards away from their kitties.

If a cat swallows a rubber band, owners must stay on high alert and observe their cat’s behavior. If a pet is choking, render immediate assistance. Observe your pet for any of the following symptoms:

  1. Watch for any signs of choking or physical distress. Choking requires immediate medical attention.
  2. Kitties may experience an upset stomach or signs of abdominal pain. This can include a feline not wanting to be touched or being unable to find a comfortable position.
  3. Cats may start vomiting up food and water. Vomit that looks dark brown can have blood or even feces in it. Dark vomit is a sign of internal bleeding.
  4. Extreme changes to bowel habits, including diarrhea and noticeable color change.
  5. Not having a bowel movement.
  6. Being lethargic or withdrawn.
  7. Poor appetite or trouble swallowing food and water.
  8. Drinking a lot of water and then throwing it up.
  9. Excessive sleeping.

If you believe your kitty has eaten a rubber band and has any of these symptoms, you should call your veterinarian as soon as possible for the next steps. Even if you are not 100% sure your pet has swallowed one but strongly suspect it and they have any of these symptoms, call the veterinarian as soon as possible.

A blockage in your cat’s system can cause blood loss to organs and possibly prevent food and water from being digested. Dehydration can quickly set in. This can quickly turn into a life-threatening situation. Cats will only live for a few days with an untreated blockage.

This situation is not always a dire emergency, but it does warrant immediate medical attention. Owners need to act quickly to get a kitty to the vet to begin treatment.

Help! My Cat Swallowed Part Of A Rubber Band

In some cases, owners may find only part of a rubber band near a kitty or in their mouth. While it may seem better if they have only swallowed a piece, this is a misconception. This is still a very serious situation, and medical advice should be sought as soon as possible. Any piece over about an inch and a half warrant an urgent call to the vet.

What Should I Do If My Cat Ate A Rubber Band?

There are immediate steps an owner can take to help their pet if they ate a rubber band. If owners see a part of one in their cat’s mouth, the first instinct can be to pull it out. That is sometimes the answer, but not always.

  1. Owners should never yank or tug on something stuck in a cat’s mouth, even if it is just a piece of one. There is a chance it could be wrapped around their tongue, teeth, or even stuck in their throats, and pulling on it can cause things to worsen.
  2. Do not panic. Take time to assess the situation and try to stay calm.
  3. Never try to make your cat vomit. There is no known way to safely do this. Trying to on your own may worsen things. If your vet wants to try to make your pet vomit or pump their stomach, they will do so in a medical setting. Never try to make your kitty vomit this up on your own. It is always best to contact the vet before trying any home remedy.
  4. If the piece is loose and easy to remove from your pet’s mouth, gently do so but stop if there is any resistance or if your kitty seems to be in pain.
  5. If you notice anything coming out the other end of your cat, again, only aid them in passing it very gently. Do not tug or yank on anything. Something could be stuck inside your cat’s intestines or bowel. Yanking or pulling it out can cause even further damage. If things pass naturally, that is good but refrain from helping too much.
  6. Always contact your veterinarian for help rather than trying to remove obstructions yourself.
  7. Observe your cat’s stool. They may pass things that way. Even after passing, owners will need to be very alert for any signs of possible obstructions.

What will the Vet Do If My Cat Ate A Rubber Band?

The veterinarian will do several things to help a feline who has swallowed a rubber band. The very first thing will be a complete physical examination. They will check everything to look for signs of injury or blockage. Vital signs will be checked. Dehydration is a big concern, so they will look for any indication of that.

Your vet will likely recommend an x-ray if they suspect a blockage. This will help identify precisely what is going on and determine the best treatment plan.

Treatment for a blockage almost always involves surgery. Blood tests will need to be done before surgery to determine if a kitty can handle anesthesia. Some breeds, like the Bengal, are very sensitive to anesthesia and can have adverse reactions. In extreme cases, it can trigger a heart attack. Once a kitty’s blood work is shown to be healthy, they will be prepped for surgery.

Surgery will be performed to remove the blockage and repair any damage. Your cat will need to recover for several weeks afterward. This is not an experience that will be over quickly. Your kitty will be affected for quite some time after recovery.

Will My Cat Die If They Ate A Rubber Band?

As scary as it is, in some severe cases, a kitty can die after eating a rubber band if they do not receive timely treatment. This is not meant to be dramatic, but as a serious warning, these items are very dangerous for cats. They should never play with them. The risks of severe injury or even death are just far too much to ever risk this. Always take steps to keep these hazards far away from cats. This also goes for hair ties and elastic. Any of these can cause serious issues for a kitty.

Alternative Toys

Rather than let pets play with these literal death traps, find a feline-friendly alternative. Kitties love to play with tunnels, kitty wands, balls, catnip-filled toys, laser pointers, and more. They need places to climb, like cat towers, and some high-energy felines will benefit from a cat exercise wheel.

Pick feline toys that are sturdy and will not present a choking hazard. Look for toys with no hard plastic or other parts that can break off and become hazardous. Keep a variety of toys and change them out regularly. That way, a kitty is not playing with the same thing every day. This keeps them entertained while keeping toys in good shape for longer. Kitties that play with the same thing every day may get bored and go looking for other sources of fun. Putting toys away at night or having your kitty sleep in a contained area can prevent them from seeking out toys at night or when owners are not at home. Remember, a bored cat is a curious cat. They are highly skilled at getting into small spaces and finding things they should not play with.

Prevent An Emergency

It is always better to take steps to avoid a medical emergency, and prevention can go a long way. Very simple steps like keeping these items far from a cat’s reach and training them not to jump on desks and tables.

Keep potential hazards like this secure and away from a feline’s reach or inquiring exploration. Place them securely in a desk drawer or kitchen cabinet your kitty cannot get into. Make sure always to inspect new products for these hazards, and make sure to store or dispose of them where your sweet kitty cannot get into them.

Always have your veterinarian’s on-call number and a backup vet to call in case of emergencies. It is extra stressful to find a new doctor during an emergency. Consider pet insurance if you are concerned about paying for emergency care. This is something owners will need to set up beforehand. However, insurance can be a beneficial tool. It can help offset regular and preventive care and cover some of the high expenses that come with emergency veterinary care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I go to the emergency vet if my cat ate a rubber band?

If your cat is experiencing any immediate distress or pain signs, you should try to take them to the emergency vet. Observe your pet for any signs of distress, and always call your veterinarian immediately for advice. Even if your kitty is acting fine, but you suspect they have eaten a part of one, it is a good idea to call the vet. They can help you determine if your pet needs emergency care or can wait to come in for an examination.

Will my cat poop out a rubber band?

There is a possibility a feline will pass an ingested hazard like this in a bowel movement. This can often be accompanied by diarrhea. If you notice a kitty straining to go to the bathroom or having any difficulty, they may have an obstruction, and it is advisable to seek veterinary care.

Does olive oil help if my cat ate a rubber band?

Olive oil is known to be a helpful lubricant for felines who suffer from issues like excessive hairballs or gastrointestinal distress. Although it is helpful in certain situations, olive oil will not be of any help if a kitty eats a possible hazard like this. For starters, it is not safe to feed a kitty an excessive amount of olive oil. It should only ever be added to their food in very minimal doses and after consulting a veterinarian. Rather than try an at-home remedy like olive oil, owners should call their veterinarian for immediate advice.

My cat ate an elastic band. What should I do?

If a kitty ate an elastic band, it should be treated similarly. Elastic items can become choking hazards and also cause obstructions. These are not something pets should be playing with or eating. Owners should keep a very close eye on their pets for signs of choking, distress, intestinal bleeding, or a blockage.

Final Thoughts

Rubber bands are useful to humans but very dangerous to felines. If a cat eats one, it is imperative that owners observe their pets very closely to look for any signs of injury, discomfort, or pain. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for advice. If your kitty appears to be in distress, take them to the nearest emergency veterinarian.

Never try to remove an obstruction like this from a feline’s throat or back end yourself. While it may seem like the right thing to do, it can cause internal damage and worsen things. A cat eating a rubber band is a very serious situation and will require owners to take steps to ensure that their pet is okay. If a feline has an obstruction or anything has become wrapped around an internal organ, it can be a life-threatening emergency. Prevention is always the best treatment, and feline owners should take extra steps to ensure that these hazards are not accessible to their feline friends. The information in this guide is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Always contact your vet or an emergency vet if you feel your cat is in trouble or experiencing an immediate medical emergency.

Veterinarian holding cat in clinic

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