Cat Health

Why Do Cats Like Hair Ties? Explained!

You may have noticed that your cat likes to play with hair ties, just as they like to play with pipe cleaners. It can be very unpredictable when it comes to deciding what your cat wants. You could spend some cash; expecting your cat will be pleased, but in the end—they’re not interested.

I have had so many complaints about people getting cat trees with exercise wheels, and yet—their cats never use the wheels. The same goes for my cat; since it’s an indoor pet, I tried to get some mouse-like stuffed toys, but he prefers to play with pipe cleaners or my wife’s hair ties.

Why do cats like hair ties? Cats love hair ties because they’re made of materials that are similar to prey, such as mice or birds. The sight and spring-like feel of hair ties can be incredibly stimulating for cats, so they often get so excited when they see them.

Unfortunately, you cannot do much to stop your cat from being attracted to hair ties. But you can take steps to reduce the risk of them getting into serious problems that could lead to their death. In this article, you’ll learn everything regarding cats and hair ties, including safety measures.

Table of Contents

Do All Cats Like Hair Ties?

No, all cats don’t like hair ties, but most cats are likely to be drawn to hair ties—cats always fall in love with obscure things and decisions. The same reasons why your cat loves hair ties is the same reason why they would eat a meal today and tomorrow—they don’t want to eat that same food.

Hair ties are dream come true for cats. They will enjoy playing with them over a dangling string toy; the hair tie offers more entertainment and fun for your fur buddy.

Bear in mind that cats have varying personalities, the only thing constant in cats is that they have allure towards things you don’t expect; like when I bought my cat a pod, and yet he preferred to tuck himself in the pod’s cardboard box.

Why Do Cats Like Hair Ties?

Like the saying: “curiosity kills the cat”, not literally, but this goes a long way to highlight the extent to which a cat’s curiosity could get. Your kitty will entertain itself by trying to figure things out; this includes jumping into your drawers or tables and helping himself with rubber bands or hair ties. Here are the reasons why your cat goes crazy for hair ties:


If there are stressors present, be it social or environmental, it could impact your cat’s behavior. Your cat will show some level of aggression, chewing on household objects and hunting. When your cat begins to chew excessively on hair ties, rubber bands, or similar objects; this is an indication that your cat is stressed and is trying to relax. explains that ” Cat owner’s negligence in detecting and resolving stress in their furry friends can lead to emotional and physical illness, which could lead to problematic behaviors.” If you’re unsure what to do, and how to get your pet back on track, contact your veterinarian or a feline behaviorist to facilitate the discovery of your cat’s stressors, and resolve it.


Cats are keen on carpets and upholstery because scratching them with their claws feels good. Likewise, a ball or things made of yarn pose a large appeal to your pet; since it’s soothing to claw on. Unlike smooth and plain surfaces, wool and rubber bands provide so much entertainment and fun.

Hunting Instincts

A closer observation during cats’ play time, suggests that; they engage in predator-like activities, this is paramount to their wellbeing.

Outdoor and wild cats will always go after rodents and birds; asides from the fact that your kitty is not big enough to go for bigger prey—they just have a love for rodents—who they eat their heads and bring the body home, or just consume whole at the spot; this is why most of their toys are designed to mimic the fur of rodents

The Material has A Strong Appeal

Your Cat will love to play with hair ties because of the materials used in making them. My experience with my cat and wooly objects makes me understand; that beyond the feel, they like hair ties because of how it smells. According to VCACanada, “cats have 45 – 80 scent receptors that they rely on to pick scents we humans can’t pick up with our 5 million scent receptors”.

Your cat’s behavior towards rubber bands and hair ties can be explained by Catbehaviourassociates “Although your feline friends would be attracted to plastics for numerous reasons; they love plastic as a result of chemicals inherent in them, such as stearic acid or cornstarch, which attracts them”.

Also, your cat may like hair ties because of your scent deposit, which makes it seem more relaxing. Scents go a long way when it comes to feline behavior, which is why a resident cat will fight a cat who went to visit the vet upon its return—because he/she smells different—in cases like this, you can use the vanilla extract method to stop your feline friends from fighting in a multi-cat home.

Why do Cats Eat Hair Ties?

Why do cats eat hair ties?

It is unusual to see cats eating non-edible things, this act could be accidental; “a teething cat who is trying to soothe its gum may chew and swallow none edible things” according to Purina. Some cats will purposely chew and swallow hair ties and rubber bands as a result of PICA and other absurd causes as listed below:


Pica is a compulsive behavior where your cat sucks and consumes inedible things. This can explain why your feline friend always tries to get access to your rubber bands and hair ties.

There is no definite reason why PICA may occur in your house cats,” but pica is mostly found in cats that are not fed as they should be, cats that were weaned early, suffering from boredom, anemia, and malnutrition” According to studies.

Siamese, Burmese, and Tonkinese are the most susceptible to Pica. If you notice such behaviors in your cat,  it’s best to reach out to your veterinarian to determine if it’s a mental or physical issue.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder can prompt your cat to get obsessed with a hair tie, lick them, excessively chew on them and chase them around. “OCD in animals could happen without any underlying neurological and other medical conditions” according to studies.

Stress usually triggers this condition; determining your pet’s stressors is paramount to eliminating traces of OCD. Since cats love routine, any change to how things are done or a change in environment could cause stress.

As a cat owner, punishing your pet only reinforces the behavior. Instead of dishing out punishments, why not pay attention and gather as many cues as possible, to aid your veterinarian to determine how to solve your pest problem? Signs of OCD in cats include pacing, repetitive and exaggerated behaviors, vocalization without a purpose, also, digesting their fur, and eating things made of wool.

Should You Be Concerned if Your Cat Plays With Hair Ties?

No! The good news is that there’s no need to worry— a hair tie could be harmless if it’s not swallowed. There’s a good reason why cats love hair ties—they’re made of materials that are similar to the ones found in cat toys.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some precautions. If your cat is playing with a hair tie, make sure they’re not eating it. Hair ties aren’t poisonous, but they can cause intestinal blockage or cause your cat to choke if swallowed—leading to death or a surgical intervention

And if your cat is chewing on a hair tie, replace it with a toy that’s made specifically for cats. That way, your cat can continue to enjoy playing with their favorite toy—without worrying about the dangers incurred when playing with hair ties.

To provide adequate mental stimulation, toys are important for your cats—aid them to hone their hunting skills while indoors. It’s an awesome way to get get your cat to exercise, and entertain themselves while you’re away or asleep.

How Can You Keep Your Cat From Playing With Hair Ties?

how to keep cats from playing with hair ties

You might be wondering how to keep your cat from playing with hair ties. Well, I’m glad you asked.

Provide a safe hair tie alternative

If you notice your cat is picking so much interest in unhealthy objects like plastic, hair ties, and rubber bands, make sure you’re keeping your hair ties out of reach. If they’re well kept, your cat can’t get to them, and that’s the first step in prevention. Provide a safe alternative such as turkey necks, this will help your cat keep its mouth clean without brushing.

If you are busy and don’t have much time to engage your cat’s mind and body in necessary exercise and game; you should provide a companion cat who will help keep your cat busy; they’ll snuggle together and hone their hunting skills together.

Provide safe toys

If you have eliminated the possible risk of your cat choking or dying from ingesting materials like hair ties, and rubber bands and by keeping them out of reach, the next thing will be to provide other safe toys your cat will enjoy playing with.

Toys that were made specifically for cats can still pose a threat especially toys made with feathers; when they begin to wear and tear, your cat could purposely or mistakenly eat them apart. When buying toys, make sure they don’t have small detachable parts that can be easily removed and swallowed by your cat.

Your feline friend will love toys made of spring, but they can be harmful to your cat’s health. Toys made of strong material fabrics are the best options. In case your cat likes hair ties and wouldn’t play with any new toy, you can let it play with a pipe cleaner, but keep an eye on them always.

Discovering what your cat likes can be difficult at times, but it’s worth it in the long run. The priority is to provide stimulating and versatile toys for your pet. Invest in some toys that stimulate the hunting part of your cat, and invest in playtime also. In case of a cat’s toy is stuck in its throat, get to the vet as soon as you can.

Eliminate stress

Eliminating your cat’s stress is a no-brainer, if your pet loves to play with hair ties as a result of stress, you should take proactive steps in ensuring they are relieved.

Stress leads to unwanted abnormal behaviors in cats, if you’re spending some time with your kitty, you’ll be able to notice some behavioral changes, and act as early as possible or inform your vet if you can’t handle it

How Do I Know My Cat has Eaten Hair Tie?

Your cat may show no signs even after eating a hair tie. You might only discover it after your cat passes it through poop, but if it gets stuck in the gut, your cat will develop symptoms.

Even if your cat is not used to eating non-edible things, and you know it plays with hair ties; if you notice vomiting( if the hair tie causes an obstruction, your cat will likely vomit), constipation, depression, and lethargy, let your veterinarian know.

What to Do if Your Cat Ingest a Hair Tie

Keep an eye on the cat and watch its poop regularly until the hair tie is passed. This may take up to a week, if your cat shows no serious sign of distress, there is no need to worry, the hair tie will pass, so your feline is eating and drinking, and behaves in a normal way.

The hair tie will show up in the cat’s poop in a matter of days, don’t expect to see it as a whole, it may be broken down a bit, keep inspecting till you’re sure the whole hair tie has passed, and you don’t notice any reduction in the quality of your cat’s health.

Is It Bad For Cats To Play With Hair Ties?

Yes, it is bad for your cat to play with a hair tie, because it could lead to the intestinal obstruction which will need surgery to save your cat.

Except your cat has PiCA or OCD, you can let them play with wool-like toys(including hair ties), but under strict supervision. You could avoid letting your cat play with hair ties, but if you buy them wool-like rodents or wands—the same thing huh? The main idea is to avoid things or toys your cat could easily swallow.

Can Cats Poop Out Hair Ties?

Cats could pass hair ties sometimes, however, you may not get that much time, and symptoms could develop much earlier. But if your cat is in luck, there will be no issues passing the hair ties with its poop—minor irritation may occur. Constipation, lethargy, and depression are pointers to getting your veterinarian involved immediately so your cat’s health won’t deteriorate completely.

Can cats die from eating a hair tie?

Yes, hair tie could obstruct the gut, impacting the gut walls — leading to leakage of fecal matter from the abdomen—which can cause peritonitis. Even if treatments are provided, peritonitis could cause your cat’s life. The earlier the hair tie is discovered, the better for your pet.

Other Things that Could be Dangerous to Your Cat

Being aware of other dangerous things your cat eats on the side will give you an upper hand, helping you regulate and monitor abnormal eating behaviors. Here is a compilation of cats’ non-edible passion.

Electric cords

Electric cords may sound absurd, but your cats are crazily in love because it possesses the same bouncy feel as rubber bands, which makes them appealing to your cat.

Take appropriate measures when it comes to electric cords, your cat could get electrocuted if it ends up chewing on a cord that isn’t thick and insulated.

Get rid of wires you’re not using. try and embrace the wireless life; wireless chargers, mice, and keyboards. You could also cover the wire in split loom tubing, or finally, you could apply things that taste awful to cats, like hot sauce or citrus(i don’t advise you to use the last step).


Cats love ribbons
Credit @istockphotos

As a new cat parent, I was guilty of this, I let my cat play with ribbons, I even introduced it to our play, but it’s way too dangerous; if ingested, a gastrointestinal obstruction can occur, preventing food from passing through your cute cat’s stomach and intestines.

This linear foreign object as described by veterinarians can cause infection, and also cause a tear in the intestine which would lead to the gut leaking into the abdomen—terrible.

Your cat is more likely to get into this trouble during the holiday season when many gifts will be rolling left, right, and center, try and be cautious and visit the vet if you feel your furry friend has ingested some ribbons.

Plastic bags

Cats and plastic bags
Credit @istockphoto

Cats love plastic bags, and it’s no secret. They like to scratch them, hide in them, and even chomp down on them. Your kitty is usually fascinated by the texture of the plastic bag, the sound the bag makes when playing with it, and the chemicals used in making the plastic bags.

It’s not dangerous for your cat to play with plastic bags, since they just love the texture. It is an issue if your cat ingests the plastic as it would cause intestinal blockages, if you’re going to let your cat play with a plastic bag, you need to supervise him, and ensure he is not eating and swallowing the thing.


There are a few theories out there. One is that cats view hair ties as prey. They might see the elastic as a snake or other small animal, and that’s why they’re so drawn to them. Another theory is that cats like the sound hair ties make when they chew them. The crinkly noise is pretty soothing to them.

Whatever the reason, if your cat is chewing up your hair ties, you can do a couple of things about it. You can try keeping your hair ties out of reach or get some pet-safe chew toys for your kitty to play with instead.

For your cute house cat, fun may mean spending time with you or playing with his favorite rubber or hair tie; if you can’t monitor him while he plays with a hair tie, don’t let him play with one. But if your cat ate a string, wool, rubber, or toys in that range, speak to your veterinarian about it.

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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