Pet Q&A: String is fun for cats, but put it safely away

04/24/2012 12:00 AM

04/23/2012 9:50 PM

I read an article that strings are dangerous for cats, but toys with string are all over the pet store. Are they safe?

– H.R., via Facebook

Kittens and cats love playing with string, as well as ribbon and anything that twists and dances. They like to stalk, to pounce, to flip their slender prey into the air, and to start stalking again.

That's all good, clean fun, but there's a chance your cat won't stop with play and will decide to eat the toy. And that's where the fun stops, because any sort of string can wreak havoc in your cat's intestines and lead to surgery.

Once you're done playing the game with your cat or kitten, put the toy out of reach behind a cupboard or closet door.

Toys probably aren't even the biggest risk in most homes. If you knit or sew, put supplies away when you're done with them, and if you're opening or wrapping packages, clean up after you're done.

Packing material such as foam "peanuts" can also be a health hazard for pet.

Even if your pet's not really the playful type, it may find one kind of string irresistible: juice-soaked string from a roast or turkey. Dispose of these tempting dangers by putting them in a container your cat can't get into.

– Dr. Marty Becker

The buzz

New guidelines address overvaccination of pets

Veterinarians used to think vaccines were so safe that it was better to vaccinate if there was any doubt about a pet's vaccine status.

But research has shown that in some pets, the negative reaction to a vaccine isn't just a day of not feeling right: In a small but significant number of cats, cancer resulted.

New recommendations by veterinarians are a series of vaccinations to initiate disease resistance in kittens and puppies, followed by fewer "core" vaccines at longer intervals for adult dogs and cats.

White-coated and thin-coated dogs are vulnerable to skin cancer, and veterinary dermatologists have long recommended sunblock for these pets. Children's waterproof sunblock can be used. There are products that are made specifically for pets.

Some 80 percent to 90 percent of drugs used in veterinary medicine come from human medicine.

This use of human drugs allows veterinarians to treat conditions and species that might not be priorities for drug makers.

More routinely prescribed are antibiotics, anti-anxiety medications and other drugs that pretty much treat the same issues in people and in pets.

– Mikkel Becker and Dr. Marty Becker

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