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My Cat Ate a Rubber Band: What Should I Do? (Vet Answer)

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By Dr. Iulia Mihai

cat biting rubber band

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Dr. Iulia Mihai

DVM MSc (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If your cat ate a rubber band, don’t panic. Swallowing a rubber band can cause severe problems for cats, such as intestinal obstruction, but not always. In most cases, when cats chew rubber bands, they swallow small fragments that don’t normally create any issues.

Therefore, if your cat has eaten a rubber band, it can pass through their digestive system in about 2–3 days. If after 2 days, your cat does not defecate, does not eat, or behaves abnormally, take them to the vet immediately.

In this article, you will find out what can happen to your cat if they eat a rubber band and what you need to do to help your pet.

How Do I Know if My Cat Has Swallowed a Rubber Band?

If your cat swallowed a rubber band and it got stuck in the intestine, your pet may show the following clinical signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Production of small amounts of feces in a short time
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Behavioral changes such as biting, growling, or hissing when picked up or handled around the abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Oversleeping
  • Changes in their drinking behavior

If you have seen or suspect that your cat has swallowed a rubber band or any other foreign body and you notice these clinical signs, take them to the vet immediately. Intestinal obstruction is a medical emergency, which can be remedied surgically. However, these clinical signs can also appear in other medical conditions, not only if your cat swallows a foreign body.

If your cat ate a rubber band but it didn’t block their intestines, you will probably see the item when they defecate or vomit. In this case, there are usually no clinical signs.

cat vomit on the floor
Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

What to Do if Your Cat Ate a Rubber Band

All you can do if your cat has eaten a rubber band is monitor their poop for a few days and/or take them to the vet. You can also observe if your cat vomits because, in some cases, the rubber band won’t reach the intestine, ending up in your cat’s stomach. At some point, your cat may vomit it up.

We know that monitoring your cat’s poop or vomit is not a pleasant activity, but it is necessary if your pet has eaten a rubber band.

Rubber bands cannot be broken down by your cat’s intestines. Therefore, they will pass through the digestive tract along with the poop. If you see a rubber band in your cat’s poop, it is good news because you will know the danger has passed. Because it cannot be broken down in the intestine, rubber can stay in your cat’s digestive tract for several days. However, if your cat starts showing the clinical signs mentioned above, go to the vet immediately.

Also, the rubber is not toxic, so don’t worry that your cat might get poisoned.

Is Playing with Rubber Bands Safe for Cats?

Many cats are not very interested in the special toys we buy for them and prefer to play with various household items, such as aluminum foil, paper, plastic bags, or rubber bands. It is not recommended to let your cat play with rubber bands or hair ties. Once swallowed, they can cause digestive problems, such as intestinal obstruction, which is a medical emergency.

Cat toys are designed in such a way that pets can play safely with them. However, no matter what toy you choose for your cat, it is recommended to supervise them when playing to avoid possible problems that may arise—your cat can choke on a ball, swallow inedible items, poke or scratch their eyes or mouth, etc.

Also, keep the rubber bands away from your cat to make sure they don’t steal them when you’re not paying attention.

Rubber Band
Image Credit: JumpStory

Why Are Rubber Bands Dangerous for Cats?

In addition to intestinal obstruction, swallowing a rubber band can cause other complications, such as:

  • The rubber band can get tangled around your cat’s tongue
  • Choking—especially in the case of kittens or when the rubber band is very thick
  • Damage to the tissues that line the mouth or esophagus
  • Blockage in the esophagus or stomach
  • Intestine entanglement or intussusception (the bowel folds in on itself)

Like intestinal obstruction, these complications can put your cat’s life in danger if you don’t act fast.

How Long Can a Cat Live with Intestinal Blockage?

Intestinal blockages are comparable to clogged pipes. Food and waste cannot move through the digestive tract due to the obstruction, affecting digestion and intestinal motility. Cats can have some bowl and gas movement with partial obstruction, but if the blocked item does not pass, it will eventually cause damage to the intestines.

If the blockage is complete, then your cat will survive for a few days only (3–7 days). Your cat’s condition will worsen day by day if they are not given adequate treatment.

Intestine entanglement can make cats sick very quickly, in a very short time. The sooner the condition is diagnosed, the greater the chances of recovery.

How Will a Vet Treat My Cat After Eating a Rubber Band?

Once you have arrived with your cat at the clinic, the vet will examine your pet and discuss their medical history (to rule out other diseases).

If the vet suspects a gastrointestinal obstruction, the next step is to order abdominal X-rays to look for foreign bodies or other abnormalities. A gastrointestinal study with contrast may also be needed to better visualize the obstruction. Your cat will need to ingest barium, a white, radiopaque liquid that appears bright white on X-rays. A set of X-rays will be done at different time intervals to track the movement of the contrast as the substance moves through the gastrointestinal tract of your cat. This study will allow the vet to visualize the flow of the gastrointestinal tract and determine the blockage location.

Other tests your vet can recommend are blood work and urinalysis. These tests will help your vet evaluate your cat’s blood cells and organ function. In other words, the vet will evaluate your cat’s overall health condition and determine the best treatment option.

vetirinarian conducting an x-ray to a cat
Image Credit: Pressmaster, Shutterstock


If your cat has swallowed a rubber band, don’t panic. Monitor your pet for 2–3 days and see if they defecate or vomit the rubber band in the meantime. Do not try to make your cat vomit because you risk poisoning them or irritating their esophagus and stomach. If you have seen your cat eating the rubber band, contact the vet.

Also, contact your veterinarian if your cat shows the following signs after swallowing a rubber band: lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, or lack of appetite. Cats should not be left for more than 2 days without eating because they can develop dangerous liver diseases.

Featured Image Credit: Nitavin, Shutterstock

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