by GiGi McBreen
of Charming Station
When we talk about safety in the sewing room most people think about
keeping your fingers away from the needle as the machine sews and not
dropping pins on the floor. But there is another very serious aspect
to safety in the sewing room and, if you’re like me, it would never
occur to you that this could happen.
We have three cats, all of whom were rescued in one way or another.
The oldest was adopted from our local shelter and is a very unique
cat in that he has six toes on each of his front feet. The kids named
him Sneakers. Sneakers is a typical fuss-budget cat but also a
loyal, affectionate and wonderful pet.
Right before Thanksgiving last year, Sneakers got very sick but we
had no idea why. When we took him to the vet, she determined that
a piece of thread was wrapped around the back of his tongue and the
rest had gone down into his stomach. She was very cautious as she
explained that if it was long enough and had gotten all the way to
his intestines, there simply might not be any way to remove it and
the kindest thing to do would be to put him down so he wouldn’t
suffer. She would only know the extent of the problem by operating
We are very relieved to share that the surgery showed that there was
a large wad of tangled thread in his tummy but not further down so he
was eventually able to make a complete recovery. Our vet was great
and took the time to warn us that cats don’t learn in a situation
like this. Sneakers would go right back to his bad habit of chewing
on thread and other things he shouldn’t when he came home. She also
said that dogs do the same kind of thing.
We are extremely careful now to take clippings from jump threads and
place them in a cylinder where Sneakers can’t get to them. And since
this experience, we have realized that when we would pull the extra
thread off a bobbin in order to refill it, we had been wadding it up
and dropping that wad into the trash can. That is apparently what
Sneakers ate. We now make sure that all thread is kept where he can’t
get at it, including the thread that sits on the thread stand between
embroidery jobs (we keep that covered with a piece of fabric).
Remember that rayon and polyester thread do not dissolve so if it
remains in a pet’s mouth, they are probably going to try to swallow it
and that can cause great harm.
We shared this information with members of our group last year and
heard dozens of additional stories about pets ingesting everything
from needles and pins to other small things that we use in our sewing
room. Some of these included fatalities.
If you have pets, please take a few minutes to look at your sewing
room and figure out ways to protect them from going through what our
Sneakers did or worse! Here are some tips to get you started:
1) Make sure you dispose of thread in a way that a pet can’t eat it.
2) Be very careful about needles you need to discard – tape them to a
piece of cardboard or put them in an old medicine bottle with a cap on
it. That way they don’t puncture the trash can liner and hurt you or
someone you love.
3) Try to pick up any dropped pins as soon as you can so pets don’t
swallow them or step on them and get one stuck in the foot. Don’t
leave pins or needles lying around on a table either if your cat has
access to it
4) Be aware that strips of fabric and even left over strips of
stabilizer may be finding their way into your pet’s diet and it really
isn’t good for them.
Now that this has happened we realize that there are other things that
our cats find enticing – like the curly ribbon attached to presents
and helium balloons. While the image of a kitten or cat playing with
a ball of yarn or thread is cute,this is a potential problem if the
pet tries to eat any of the yarn or thread.
Keep an eye out for these kinds of problems and you can save yourself
a lot of heartache, not to mention a whopping Vet bill. Your pets
will thank you for it!
Editor’s Note: We have a young cat named Sparta. Sparta is
fascinated by plastics and wants to eat them, bags and more . . . just
another example of a cat with a strange desire to eat things he
shouldn’t. At times I feel like I have a toddler at home again.