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My Cat Ate Feathers – Discover answers to 3 Common Questions

Cats get into trouble as they discover every nook and cranny of your house or property. At times, they are bound to consume something they aren’t supposed to.

My cat ate feathers; If your cat has swallowed feathers from a toy or has hunted a bird, don’t worry; your little feline will be okay for the most part. All you need to do is look for some details and observe your cat’s behavior; watch out for signs of compulsive disorder, PICA, Blockage of the intestinal tract, vomiting, and diarrhea, and Get to your vet asap.

You should immediately ensure that your cat will be okay and that the feather ingestion won’t cause complications.

Table of Contents

What should I do if my cat ate feathers?

Now, the first thing you should do if your cat is feathers is to find out whether your cat ate the whole feather or not and where did the feather come from? From a toy or an actual bird?

Also, check if the feather had any sharp edges or if your cat ingested the feather spine too.

If the ingested feather belonged to a toy, your cat isn’t at much risk unless the feather is synthetic and made up of nylon or plastics. In that case, you need to contact your vet as soon as possible.

Suppose the feather originated from a bird your cat may have hunted. Your cat may be at risk of diseases or digestive problems as prey bird feathers come with their problems.

Observe your cat

You should observe your cat closely for at least 36 hours. Your cat should be comfortable and relaxed. Excessive meowing and visual signs of stress are all indicators that the feather is causing problems for your cat.

If your cat is young or a kitten, you must be even more careful that the kitten isn’t choking on the feather. Kittens have tiny airways which large feathers can block. If you feel like your kitten is choking—immediately take it to a veterinarian.

Another way of checking how your cat is holding up is checking its belly by gently pressing it; your cat’s belly should be soft to the touch. Any hardness or reaction of your cat upon pressing its stomach means that your cat is unable to digest the feather, which has started to cause digestive problems. 

If your cat loses appetite and seems to have lower energy than usual, these are tell-tale signs of an intestinal blockage. Measuring your cat’s body temperature can also offer insight into whether your cat is getting sick. If you observe your cat’s body temperature to be lower than expected, immediately visit a vet.

Keep an eye on your cat’s litter box; if she passes a stool within 24 hours and the cat’s feces seem normal, then all is well, and you don’t need to worry about your cat anymore.

Note: If, after consuming feathers, you observe your cat in any pain or observe changes in its breathing, get your cat to a vet immediately.

Can Cats Digest Feathers?

Cats in the wild often eat feathers as birds form a significant amount of their diet. As a result, they are also easily able to digest feathers.

This may cause some people to assume that house cats can digest feathers. That assumption is incorrect, especially for most house cats that weren’t adopted as ferals.

 Though feathers alone can be harmless, the spine in the middle of a feather is what can cause digestive issues for your cat. The spine of the feather contains a protein called Beta-keratin, which causes digestive problems for your cat. Beta-keratin is the same protein that makes up a bird’s beak, and claws, your cat’s digestive system cannot break down the Beta-keratin protein, and either it has to be passed out as it is or spat back.

That said, small feathers used in toys are safe for your cat beyond a doubt. Since they are small and harmless, they can’t be an issue even if ingested.

That said, don’t let your fear of your cat eating feathers stop you from getting your cat feather toys. As long as the feathers are small and not synthetic, it’s completely safe.

Feather toys are a great source of exercise and entertainment for your cat because they activate your cat’s predator instincts.

Although feathers are frequently seen in cat toys, kittens should not play with them. A tiny object like a feather may be chewed in two, consumed, and stuck in the throat or stomach since kittens learn with their jaws and chew on anything you serve them.

Diseases caused by feathers

Cats are predators and are bound to hunt birds and other small animals. More often than not, birds preyed on by cats are sick and can carry diseases that can infect cats too. At times these diseases can be further transmitted to humans also.

If you’re sure that your cat may have killed and eaten a bird, then you need to be sure that the bird was indeed healthy. If you can’t find out about the bird, you should take your cat to the vet if its behavior changes. Changes in eating habits are prime indicators of an impending infection.

Salmonella is the most common type of bacteria carried by birds and even their feathers. Salmonella can easily infect cats and cause a fever known as Songbird fever, which can make your cat very sick.

If you suspect your cat to be infected by songbird fever, be very cautious, as it can infect you too. In this case, going to the vet or quarantining your cat is the only option.

Why did my cat eat feathers?

Your cat’s ancestors have hunted birds for more than a millennia, your cat may be a more tame version of its ancestors, but it still has the instincts of its ancestors.

As feathers are an identifying feature of birds, they activate your cat’s hunting instincts and make them react to them. That’s why many toys use feathers to appeal to your cat. Sometimes your cat gets over excited and treats the feather as prey and ends up eating it.

Generally, if your cat ate feather toys and starts eating non-food objects, it could result from a disorder known as PICA.

What is PICA in cats?

PICA in cats is a condition where non-food objects like papers, fabrics, and feathers become appalling to your cat’s taste buds. Nutritional deficiencies and anxiety are known triggers for PICA.

It is usual for cats to play with their toys—this is its hunting instincts playing out, but when the fabrics on its toys beings to miss, or it takes a particular liking to chewing papers, shoes, furniture, etc. Your cat may be having PICA. A proper diagnosis is usually carried out and decided by your vet.

The first step to diagnosing is witnessing your cat in the act; how else can you tell if you haven’t seen convincing symptoms?  It is usually challenging to detect PiCA based on its symptoms–the symptoms of PICA are just like the symptoms of many other diseases. This is why you need to look beyond the symptoms below and observe your cat closely to see if eating and swallowing non-food objects is unusual.

The symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, constipation, diarrhea, less appetite, etc.


Lacking nutrients: PICA in Cats can be caused by a deficiency of the cat’s needed nutrients; this will cause the cat to eat other things to supplement its lacking nutrients.

Anxiety is the cause of the majority of cats’ behavioral misconduct–anxiety will make your cat chew on furniture, your personal belongings, and anything it could see.

Teething can make a cat chew on stuffed toys, foam, and blankets; the cat is only trying to soothe its teeth—this will stop after your cat’s teething. If it extends beyond the cat’s teething period, call your vet.

If you are convinced about a strange eating behavior in your cat, get your vet involved.

What happens if my cat eats feathers?

Depending on the type of feathers ingested by your cat. If ingested, a little feather from a hunted bird or a chicken may not necessarily threaten your cat’s life. However, bacteria or parasites available on the feathers can cause issues if your cat eats birds’ feathers.

On the other hand, feathers from toys can cause issues if they are synthetic since they don’t break down like the feathers from animals.

If you procured a cat wand or feather-like toy for your cat, the toys usually come with synthetic feathers— which is why you should supervise your cat when they play with toys like this one. When the feather component starts to detach, there is a high chance your cat could ingest these feathers. I advise you to avoid toys like this.

If your cat is having a blockage from swallowing feathers, you should also look for the following accompanying symptoms: lethargy, lack of appetite, bloating, and low body temperature. If this is the case, you may want to communicate with the cat’s vet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Cats Eat Feathers?

Yes, cats can eat feathers, but the question is, are feathers safe for cats? No, feathers are not safe for cats, especially synthetic feathers found in toys; your cat system will not be able to process these feathers, leading to complications. In the wild, feral cats will eat the fur of other animals they hunt and kill; this fur has fiber and is quickly processed by their digestive system.

My Cat Ate a Feather From a Toy

If your cat ate feathers from a toy , there is no cause for alarm; a few feathers will not harm your cat. Constipation, stomach pains, and bloating may occur; keep an eye on your cat if you find out that a part of the kitty’s toy is missing. Get your vet involved if symptoms don’t resolve in a day or two.

How long does it take a cat to pass a foreign object?

It takes 10 to 24 hours for a cat to pass a foreign object; in some cases, it may t, take beyond 24 hours for a foreign object to move through the cat’s digestive tract. Contact your vet if you know your cat ingested a foreign object.


Cats will play with or hunt down anything moving fast, including roaches, birds, mice, and flies, but they don’t eat them most; if your cat begins to take a particular liking to eating non-food objects, the chances of getting sick become higher.

Typically, a cat will swallow its hairs while trying to groom itself, which leads to hairballs; aside, they are very intentional about what they swallow. If your cat ate or is still eating feathers, you need to see a vet before it becomes more severe.

Joshua Kaynard

I am Joshua kaynard, an avid cat lover. Our pets provide an excellent way of connecting with nature; I am committed to helping you understand all the aspects of your feline friend's life. Enjoy!

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