My Cat Ate A Rubber Band (What Should I Do?)

ball of rubber band

They say that kids eat the darndest things. Anything that looks small and interesting might end up in a child’s mouth.

The same thing can happen with our cats. Cats do eat the darndest things too.

Even something as uninteresting as a rubber band can be eaten by a cat. But how dangerous is it if your cat accidentally ate a rubber band?

It can be dangerous when cats eat rubber bands. If your cat has eaten one rubber band, it might be able to poo it out quickly. The problem arises when your cat has eaten a large number of rubber bands that can cause an obstruction in your cat’s intestines. This can endanger your cat’s life.

Do not underestimate the severity of an obstruction in your cat’s digestive system. If your cat has swallowed something that can pose a health risk, please take it to the veterinarian immediately.

In this article, we will be discussing what can happen if your cat eats too many rubber bands. Every cat owner needs to be armed with this knowledge.

Why Does My Cat Eat Rubber Bands?

Truth be told, it isn’t very often that you hear someone saying “My cat ate a rubber band!”

But it does happen.

Some cats are just too curious when it comes to inedible objects. There are times when it can also be caused by an eating disorder in cats.

Here are some reasons why some cats would eat a rubber band:

  • Strong prey drive
  • Curiosity
  • Pica

Let’s briefly dive deeper into each reason.

Strong Prey Drive

siamese cat hunting

Take a look at your cute little lazy and ‘chonky’ feline friend. Does it look like a world-class hunter to you?

When it comes to cats, looks are definitely deceiving.

Cats are one of the top predators in the world with a high kill success rate. Research has shown cats have a great impact on the surrounding wildlife numbers. Many cats kill for ‘fun’ due to their strong prey drive.

Prof Roland Kay from North Carolina State University states that “cats in North America kill up to 10-30 billion wildlife animals annually”. This is currently a big problem as it affects the population of some species.

If you have cats, please do keep them indoors to prevent them from roaming around outside.

To some cats with very strong prey drive, the rubber band might resemble a prey when your cat plays with it.

The elasticity of the rubber band, the way it shoots away when stretched and released, its soft wobbly texture, all these factors can make the cat think that it is an actual living thing and eat the rubber band.

Curiosity

There’s no denying that our cats are really curious creatures. They love to investigate and observe anything that is new to them.

We can’t blame our cats for their innate curiosity as it is what keeps them alive in the wild.

Cats are also preyed on by other predators and need to be aware of what’s happening in their immediate surroundings. Cats in the wild also do not have the luxury of having food served to them by their human butlers.

Therefore cats tend to go around checking out their environment to be safe and survive.

Your cat might have eaten rubber bands out of curiosity without realizing how dangerous they are.

Pica

Pica is an eating disorder in cats that gives them a strong desire to chew and swallow inedible objects.

I’ve heard of cats with Pica ingesting things like plastic, fabric, dirt, cement and even metal. As you can see, this eating disorder isn’t just harmful to a cat’s body, it can even be deadly if the cat eats sharp objects like glass.

To date, there are still no known causes for this disorder. Some scientists believe that it can be due to malnutrition or a genetic disorder. There is no cure for Pica and it can only be managed.

If your cat has swallowed rubber bands along with other inedible items, you need to see the vet immediately.

What To Do If You See Your Cat Eating A Rubber Band?

If you happen to catch your cat in the process of eating a rubber band, don’t just freak out and start yanking at the rubber band.

The rubber band might already have been partially swallowed and in your cat’s food pipe (esophagus) or stuck around your cat’s teeth or tongue.

As with the cat’s bottom, gently tug at the rubber band to see if it easily comes out of your cat’s mouth. If it doesn’t, you need to bring your cat to the vet and have it removed.

Please do not use force to remove anything from your cat’s mouth as well. That area is just so delicate.

Can Cats Digest Rubber?

Cats have enzyme and hydrochloric acid in their stomach to help break down and digest the food it has eaten. But the cat’s digestive system isn’t strong enough to digest rubber bands.

Rubber bands are made from rubber or latex from the rubber tree. The only way to break down rubber is with direct heat or in volatile solvents.

Otherwise, the cat’s stomach will let the rubber band pass which is then expelled via the cat’s poo in the litter box. If the rubber band is still in your cat’s stomach, it might start to meow and throw up the rubber band.

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Pass Rubber?

cat passing out rubber in litter box

If your cat has eaten a small rubber band, there is a chance that it will safely pass through your cat’s system and out its anus.

Most cats will take about a day or two or expel a foreign object in their stomach. Make sure to check your cat’s poo in the litter box to confirm that the rubber band is expelled.

My advice to you is to at least let your vet know that your cat has swallowed a rubber band. They might ask that you give your cat a laxative like Laxatone to help get rid of the rubber band as quickly as possible.

If you see that the rubber band is partially stuck in your cat’s bottom, gently pull to see if it comes away. Never just forcefully tug at anything that is sticking out of your cat’s anus as it might have been intertwined with the intestines. Take your cat to the vet to have it removed.

If you still do not see the rubber band after a day or two, take your cat to the vet for treatment.

How Can You Tell If Your Cat Has A Blockage?

Not all rubber bands are made equal. Some are really small and thin. you also have rubber bands that can be more than an inch thick.

Other items like hair ties are also made from rubber bands.

The best case scenario after your cat swallows a rubber band is for it to get passed out in the poo shortly.

However, if your cat has eaten a large rubber band or many rubber bands, there is a risk of intestinal blockage. A blockage occurs when the rubber band/s partially or completely obstructs your cat’s intestines or bowels.

Here are some symptoms if your cat is suffering from an intestinal blockage:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sudden bouts of aggression
  • Drooling
  • Lack of energy

A blockage is very painful and dangerous for cats as it prevents food from being absorbed by the intestines and proper bowel movements.

Treatment For Intestinal Blockage In Cats

The only way to treat a blockage in your cat’s stomach is at the vet. The vet will do a series of x-rays and scans to determine where and how bad the blockage is.

If the blockage isn’t too severe, the vet might try to induce vomiting in your cat to expel the rubber bands. Cat parents should never attempt to induce vomiting in their cats without any veterinary advice or guidance.

For severe blockages, the best treatment is surgery to get it removed as quickly as possible. Your cat will have to be warded for a few days after the surgery to make sure that there isn’t any risk of abdominal infection (peritonitis).

Can A Cat Die From Eating A Rubber Band?

If your cat swallowed a rubber band, it won’t die if medical treatment is given promptly. it also depends on the size of the rubber band in relation to the size of your cat.

A normal rubber band can be a choking and obstruction risk for kittens. Whereby a normal-sized adult cat can pass it out without much problem.

It is best to just let inform the vet if your cat has eaten a rubber band and see what is the next best step of action.

It is the risk of intestinal obstruction that we need to be careful of. This condition can kill a cat in a matter of days in left untreated.

How To Prevent My Cat From Eating Rubber Bands?

Prevention is definitely better than cure when it comes to stopping such incidents from happening.

Keep rubber bands or anything that resembles a rubber band for that matter away from your cat. It is best to keep such items under lock and key as cats can be pretty good at opening drawers and cupboards.

Keep Them Occupied

Don’t let your cat go bored and restless at home. This applies to cat owners that have kittens or young cats. These cats tend to get themselves into trouble more often than an adult cat who has learned the ways of the world.

Keep your cat busy with interactive toys that help to stimulate them mentally and physically.

Conclusion

As a cat owner myself, I know that it isn’t possible to remove every item that your cat might happen to swallow.

It takes some time and effort to be more aware of what you should not leave lying around the house.

One thing for sure is that if your cat has eaten or swallowed something that it shouldn’t have, always seek veterinary guidance.

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