03 November 2005

Tips for Sewing With Cats

Cat's can't spit!

I know, that sounds odd as a sewing tip, but if you have a kitty I think you'll follow me on this one. About 5 1/2 years ago, my wife and I held a lovely little renaissance wedding at a park in Nebraska. We made our own outfits and also garbed our wedding party to boot. Lots of sewing into the wee hours of the morning was entailed in this project, most of it with a kitty on the floor nearby playing with fabric scraps or chasing the thread or whatever. One night a few weeks prior to the wedding, Kris was putting the finishing touches on her bodice when Figaro (pictured in an earlier post) jumped up on her lap and got hold of a piece of thread. Lickety split, he had it down his throat, as well as the sewing pin that it had caught on as it passed! His life was saved by timely medical intervention.

The hairs on the tongue of felis domesticus are pointed backward. That is to say they are aimed at pulling things more easily into the gullet. This is why a cat's tongue feels sandpapery when they lick you. It aids in grooming, and lets them do things like drink by curling their tongue backward, or strip the feathers off of birds (in the wild, I mean).

To wit: A cat that gets ahold of a piece of sewing thread is going to swallow it because they cant spit it out, even if they want to! The backward facing hairs work the thread down the throat even as they're trying to spit it out. If there is a needle on the end of that thread... well, you're either going to be $600+ poorer for the surgery necessary to remove it - assuming you get the cat to an emergency vet on time - or... well I think you know the other possible outcome.

Incidentally, this is not why Figaro is currently ailing. But the current events gave me the idea for this post. If you have cats, keep in mind that - as far as they are concerned - you are playing with string and shiny dangly things. Those are cat toys right? Wrong! Of course they aren't. But they can't discern the difference, so it is up to us to keep them safe.

Keep your cats away whenever you are doing handsewing or pinning. Even if you're using so-called safety pins. Our new kitten Dusty will stop at nothing to get at the safety pins Kristin uses to put her quilts together with (easier to quilt through several layers when they're safety-pinned together). It's easy to say 'they're safety pins, whats the harm?' but Dusty can pull those suckers out faster than you can say 'knife'. For cats, 'safety pin' is a misnomer.

Figaro nearly died that night, which would not have been an auspicious event for the weeks prior to our wedding! As it was it was bad enough. It wasn't Kristin's fault, the event was something of a fluke, but the vets told us they see similar injuries all the time. Sometimes they see the same cat more than once! I guess they don't teach 'Sewing With Cats' in home ec! Lock 'em in another room during these activities or keep them above where the cats can get to, and NEVER leave your pin cushion unattended with kittens around. Practice safe sewing habits and your garb project need never necessitate an appearance on "Animal ER".

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