There are no strict rules or regulations when it comes toy pet toy safety. Unlike toys for children which are rigorously tested and limited in what materials are used to make them, cat toys offer no such safety guarantees. To keep your cat safe, it is important that you know what to look for in a good cat toy and what to avoid.
Toys for cats
When looking for something for your cat to play with, make sure you choose a toy that has been specially designed for pet use. cat toys tested to children’s safety standards won’t have taken into account what a cat’s teeth and claws could do to them, so don’t assume they are safe.
Watch out for cat toys that have eyes, tails and whiskers that could be chewed off by your cat and accidentally swallowed as this could cause choking or an intestinal blockage. Check that any seams on cat toys are securely stitched and that pet-safe stuffing material has been used.
Regularly inspect your cat's toys for damage and if you notice that they are beginning to come apart you should throw them away.
Cats enjoy playing with a wide variety of things that allow them to engage in natural behaviours such as stalking, scratching, chasing and pouncing, and if you don’t give your pet toys, they are likely to find things around the home that fulfil this purpose. Not all of these will be safe.
Most of the things that pose a risk to cats will be because of the danger of ingesting them – like feathers, toy stuffing, rubber bands, paper clips, and toys with small parts.
All cats love boxes and while these are usually safe to use as toys, you should be aware of other packaging your cat might like to play with. Curious cats are likely to want to explore bubble wrap but this can be dangerous if chewed and swallowed. Also, be vigilant for any hidden plastic bags which could suffocate your cat if it gets trapped inside.
Beware of string
Traditionally, dangling string and balls of yarn have been viewed as a way of engaging cats in play but these are very dangerous. The barbs on a cat’s tongue which make for efficient grooming can cause problems if string gets caught in them. Because of the direction that the barbs face, they do not allow a cat to spit anything out that has caught on their tongue. This means string is swallowed and can lead to choking.
There is also a strangulation risk with string if a cat become tangled up in it. Therefore, make sure any string, balls of yarn, ribbon and tinsel are kept well out of your pet’s reach.
Cats love to climb, which is why cat trees make great toys. They also help to prevent cats from scaling your own furniture or hanging off your curtains, which can be damaging and dangerous.
However, it’s important to make the right choice on cat apparatus, taking into consideration your cat’s size and experience. You should wait until your kitten is at least four months old before getting them a climbing tree as they are more likely to fall and injure themselves when they are young.
Importance of supervision
Some toys specially designed for cats should only be used with supervision, such as the fishing pole type that dangle toys. Playing with your cat using one of these toys is a great way to exercise your cat and bond with them. They get to pounce, jump and catch, stimulating their hunting urges but when you are not playing with your cat you should keep these toys out of the way.
The string can easily become wrapped around your cat’s paws, legs or even neck and pose a risk of strangulation. If left with a fishing pole toy, a cat could also rip off whatever is on the end of the string and choke on it.
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