Cats like toys that they can hunt, chase, or scratch. But while these types of toys are essential for your cat’s wellness, not all toys are safe for them to play with. 

In fact, just because you purchase a cat toy from a pet store doesn’t mean that it’s actually safe. Believe it or not, there are no government regulations for pet toys and accessories. 

So how do you choose safe toys for your cat? Take the word of a vet! Here’s our guide to choosing the best cat toys.

Why Do Cats Need Toys?

If your cat gets the zoomies in the middle of the night, it could be because they need more stimulation. Toys help keep cats happy and healthy by satisfying their hunting instincts and providing exercise. The best types of toys for cats are scratching posts, interactive toys, and ones that contain catnip.

Without the enrichment that play provides, cats will eventually need to release their pent-up energy. This results in hyperactivity at night and behavioral issues like scratching the wrong surfaces or aggressively trying to get you to play.

Avoid These Hazardous Toys

Certain components of pet toys and even some items your cat may try to play with around the house are dangerous for cats. Never let your cat play with anything that involves the following types of hazards.

Toys with String

Whether it’s your shoelace or a loose thread, string can be deadly for cats. String and similar objects like yarn and ribbons can pose a strangulation risk, and can also cause intestinal blockages if swallowed. Hair ties and rubber bands pose the same risks, especially if they break. 

If your cat eats any type of string, ribbon, etc, take them to the nearest emergency vet immediately. And if you notice a string coming out of your cat’s behind, or if they’ve partially swallowed the string, DO NOT pull on it. Pulling will cause serious damage—let a qualified veterinarian remove it instead. 

Toys with Removable Materials

Toys that have feathers, sequins, plastic eyes, buttons, bells, or other pieces that can be easily chewed off and swallowed are also a hazard. Feathers in particular can cause stomach problems, because cats can’t digest them properly. 

Toys with Small Openings

A cat can easily get their head, paws, or toes stuck in small openings. Be careful when choosing things like ball towers and puzzle toys. If a toy has any openings that seem similar in size to your cat’s head or paws, even if it looks slightly smaller, avoid it. 

Wooden Toys

Toys made of wood or that have wooden parts are also unsafe. The wood could splinter when your cat chews on it, and damage their mouth or teeth. Plus, the splinters can cause deadly intestinal damage if swallowed.

Choosing Safe Cat Toys

Aside from avoiding the above hazards, there are many other things to consider when choosing appropriate toys for your cat. Consider these questions when choosing a toy for your cat:

  • Is it the right size for my cat? 
  • Can my cat chew off any of the pieces?
  • Can the toy be easily destroyed?
  • Are there any sharp edges?
  • Can my cat get caught by moving parts, or in small openings?
  • Will it fall over if my cat climbs on it?

To protect your cat, keep wands and toys with moving parts out of reach when you aren’t able to supervise your pet’s playtime. It’s also a good idea to remove hanging toys from cat trees, because they can be destroyed and ingested or cause strangulation when you aren’t looking. And if a toy has a strong chemical smell or contains toxic materials, it’s best to avoid it. 

Emergency Vet in Gilbert, Arizona

If your cat gets hurt during playtime or swallows something they shouldn’t, contact Anasazi Animal Clinic right away. We provide emergency veterinary services for cats in and around Gilbert. Our compassionate team will evaluate and treat your pet as quickly as possible. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call in any emergency—we are always ready to help. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (12/2/2022). Photo by liang wang on Unsplash