Cats Who Quilt -- Where Quilters and Cats Meet on the Web
A Cautionary Tale: Supervise Those Cats Who Quilt!
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Quilters report that they spend an average of $1K on vet bills to save a cat that has ingested thread.
Linda, a quilter, wrote with a very sad story about how her beloved cat died from swallowing too much thread. The thread blocked the cat's intestines. Since I posted Linda's story on this Web page many more sewers have written to me to tell me how their cats have also died from eating thread. Or sewing notions like pins.

Cats love sewing baskets. They love to play with the tools we use to sew and a spool of thread is a marvelous toy to bat across the floor. But please, please keep an eye on your cat as she's playing with things she might ingest. Cats are like children and will chew and swallow anything they can get in their mouth. Several sewers have written to say that if you spot your cat sucking up thread as if it were spaghetti you should not necessarily pull it from the cat's mouth, since the thread may already be down in the intestines. Take your cat to an emergency animal hospital and have a veterinarian remove the thread!

Sewing Room Cat Safety Tips from Other Quilters



Kathy Goodwin of Vicksburg, Michigan writes, "Please remind all of your readers just how dangerous thread can be to their animals. I''ve known all along and I still made a very stupid mistake. I let my beautiful long-haired Scottish Fold, Leo, stay in my sewing room and sleep while I did some other work around the house. When I went back in, I bent over to pick him up and realized he had my embroidery thread in his mouth. It was wound around a chair and clear over into the other corner of the room where he was. It was too late when I picked him up and it broke."

"I didn't think anything about it until 2 days later when I saw what terrible shape he was in. He wouldn't eat, could barely walk and just layed in the kitchen sink. He looked like he needed a bath so I gave him one. Then it hit me! The thread!"

"Of course it was Sunday and the only vet open was the emergency one - $79 to walk in the door. Well to shorten my story $1,000 later, a week's hospital stay and some real touch and go moments - Leo is home and now acting like his old self. I had to hand feed him for almost a week because he also caught a bad cold and since he couldn't smell, he wouldn't eat anything"

"PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don't leave you animals anytime by themselves around thread, year or anything like it. The doctor has to make four incisions in Leo's intestines to get all the thread out. He also had it wrapped around his tongue and it had start cutting into that also. If I had waited or not noticed for one more day, Leo would probably be dead."

Elaine on AOL writes: "Ever since I found one of my cats with about 12 inches of thread down her throat, and the needle wedged in her mouth, I have been very careful to keep all needles unthreaded when I'm not actually using them. My cat did not need any expensive veterinary treatment as a result (since she hadn't actually swallowed the needle), but my vet told me that swallowing threaded needles is a common life-threatening accident for cats."

She adds, "I have since discovered what's called a 'dome threaded needle case' or 'quilt dome' which lets you keep up to ten threaded needles safely enclosed and ready to use. I have two of them, and they are great for keeping threaded needles handy for hand quilting. My cats have mistaken the dome for a cat toy, but even so they haven't been able to get the needles out of it."

What a great idea! You can find dome threaded needle cases at most sewing and quilting stores. They're also available in Quilts & Other Comfort's catalog (800/881-6624) for under $7.

One quilter writes "I have eleven cats and they feel they are the masters of my sewing room. I am concerned about pins,needles and thread. I have found that plastic and glass jars do very well and are very easy to use in keeping everything away from my animal companions. I keep all my threads in very large glass jars (gallon size) and sorted by color. The pins I use are on a magnetic holder which fits very well, small scissors and all into a large, wide mouth peanut butter jar. I also have taken up all the carpeting in my house and have linoleum. This makes pins, needles, and other small objects very easy to find in the den. It also makes it easy to clean up accidents from the elderly cats."

Jean Rabe in Vermont says she nearly lost her beloved Maine Coon cat to an intestinal blockage of thread and plastic. Many cats (and dogs) love to eat plastic bags, as animal fat is sometimes used in its processing. Plastic can jam up in a pet's intestines, and remain invisible to x-rays. Jean's cat survived (just barely), "But he still attacks my sewing machines/serger, biting the thread, so I cover them up with towels, and we never leave groceries in those plastic bags."

Keep a Close Watch on Kittens



"You must make your sewing room kitten-proof!" writes Dellie Morse. After Dellie had found that her kitten had batted around a spool of thread and wrapped thread around every chair and table leg in the room, she pulled from his mouth a very long thread which he had swallowed. The next morning, when he began vomitting repeatedly, she rushed him to the vet. The vet found thread wound around the cat's tongue, with both ends in his belly. He feared the thread would tie off part of the cat's intestinal tract and gangrene would set it. He operated, and luckily Dellie's cat survived. But the vet bill was over $1,000. (That's what quilters typically report that they end up spending to save their cat when he's swallowed thread.) Dellie says she nows puts away every bit of thread, as well as needles and pins, whenever she leaves her sewing machine, even though it's often a hassle.



Maggie writes that after her cat swallowed a needle and thread she asked her husband to replace the sewing room's door with a screen door. "It works just great," she says, "the cats can see me, but they can't come in. I have a hook on the door, as one of my cats can climb partway up the door. We installed a screen door grid on the bottom half of the door so the cats wouldn't scratch through the screen. Mooshie and Ty are very happy watching me through the screen."

Dogs Get Into Trouble Too



Jean Fletcher writes that many dogs have a habit of checking out garbage cans--like the one in a sewing room--and, even if there's no food in it, may chow down anything interesting they find. She says that quilters should put the trash can away when leaving the room, and should also be careful of their dogs ingesting thread and notions.

Please, please keep needles, pins, thread and other notions away from pets who might ingest them!






Kris's cat Chianti Kris's other cat


"I am a quilter, and also a veterinarian. I have often been amazed by the apparently magnetic attraction between cats and quilts." -- Kris Smith, owner of Chianti and other "boys"


Quilty Line Break

Cats Who Quilt is a trademark of Fruitful Plains. Text on this Web site Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Judy Heim. May not be reproduced in any form--in either e-mail messages or on Web sites without written permission. All illustrations are copyright 2000, 2001, and 2002 Irina Borisova. They may not be reproduced without permission. Photos and quilts are copyrighted by their respective artists, and may not be reproduced without their permission.