Yes, if it an old-style 40-wire cable. "Newer" IDE/PATA cables used 80-wires to the 40 pin connectors and some of the pins are joined together which can be bad news for a Pi.
I can recognise the two types of cable just by looking at them, but if you aren't sure then just count the first ten wires - if that gets you about a quarter of the way across the cable then it is good. If not, don't use it.
Yes, I've done it to utilize some old IDE cables. It's just a thin layer of plastic over the hole, and the female connector is in there. But as mentioned it has to be a 40 conductor cable, not a 80 conductor.