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Everyone who has ever had a cat, knows that they love string. However, cats have a tendency to swallow string when it gets caught in the bristles of their tongue.
A safer alternative to conventional string is the plastic 'lariat' type of cording available at hobby stores. It is used in macrame projects.
If you can't find this, you can use any type of cord that is at least as big as a pencil. This will be large enough that your kitty won't get it caught in his tongue bristles and swallow it.
And be sure to keep your needlework in a secure container when you are not working on your project. If the idea of your kitten swallowing thread doesn't make you tremble, think about that needle going down its throat as well!