Hair bobbles (hair ties) are dangerous to cats as too often they like to ingest them

I’ve decided after a quick search on the Internet to declare to the world that hair bobbles are very dangerous objects from the domestic cat’s point of view. It’s a product which is very useful to humans but a product which is very dangerous to cats. A clash of two different worlds. This kind of cash happens quite a lot actually because of the entirely different culture between these two species. For instance, humans normally like to keep their homes clean and tidy. But in “our urge to cleanse and control our world we have, for cats, often unwittingly polluted it” (Desmond Morris).

Nero and Lucy the vet who removed the hair ties. Eleven in all with an endoscope. Image: Westway Veterinary Group.
Nero and Lucy the vet who removed the hair ties. Eleven in all with an endoscope. Image: Westway Veterinary Group.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Don’t know it is happening

There are a lot of stories of domestic cat eating a lot of hair bobbles, sometimes up to 30. The owner will find out when the cat begins to feel and be sick and lethargic and clearly show signs of illness but until then they may go on gobbling a woman’s hair ties for months without the owner being aware of it.


There are two ways to get them out of the stomach after they’ve been discovered through an x-ray and/or ultrasound. The cat can undergo proper surgery which is dangerous. That’s a story on the Internet of a cat that ate 31 hair bobbles and had surgery but died as a result of the surgery. Not only is the surgery dangerous but also the general anesthetic. That can blind, cause brain damage or kill a cat.

Nero’s 11

There’s another more optimistic story on the Internet right now of a domestic cat called Nero who swallowed 11 elastic air bubbles. He lives in the UK and he became sick as expected and started to vomit. The owner took him to the vets and they managed to remove every single one of them using an endoscope.

They performed an ultrasound scan to see them and they were all gathered in a clump in the stomach.


An endoscope is a long plastic tube with a device on the end of which can be various devices such as a camera and/or a grabber which can be operated at the other end.

The cat is sedated or anaesthetised and the endoscope is passed down their gullet into the stomach. The endoscope had a camera and a grabber on the end in this instance. In that way the veterinarian can see what they’re doing.

Nero’s operation took 90 minutes and his owner, Lucy said that she “couldn’t quite believe that he had swallowed so many had ties in total, but they just kept coming out!” I bet he had a sore throat after the operation.

Common hazard

Hair ties are a common hazard in the home (click the link under the image above for more on hazards). I think they are actually very dangerous and cat owners should be incredibly careful with them. Cats find them attractive to eat. It must be the smell of them which makes them smell like food. And cats are instinctively inquisitive with a desire to put stuff in their mouths, chew and swallow. Pica may be a cause which is eating non-nutritious/non-edible objects.

Some cats are very good at digging around in half open drawers and other storage places while their owner is away or doing something else. And they can return to the same place and eat a hair tie each time until they are thoroughly sick and it might be too late by that time.

Because an endoscope was used to recover them, Nero was able to go home on the day he was brought to the vets for the operation. It is a minimally invasive operation. But they can be deadly. One of many hazards around and inside the home.

General home hazards

The more I read about the dangers of the human home from the cat’s perspective the more I realise that one has to be very careful. And sometimes the damage can be done without any knowledge whatsoever by the cat caregiver. In this instance I’m referring to chemicals around the home such as cleaning chemicals and carpet chemicals or furniture chemicals such as fire retardants et cetera. They can insidiously poison a cat damaging the endocrine system leading to hypothyroidism for example.

Methacrylate in nail polish is a potential hazard to cats

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

2 thoughts on “Hair bobbles (hair ties) are dangerous to cats as too often they like to ingest them”

  1. Absolutely! So many families with younger girls let their hairbands lie all over the place. They also easily get sucked up vacuum cleaners


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