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Which toys are safe for our cats?

The pet toy market is a huge industry and not all toys are safe for our fur-babies.

It is recommended that you supervise your pets during playtime and remove the toys when they are home alone or you can’t watch them.

 (this information was found on https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/06/21/cat-toys-that-can-harm-your-pet.aspx )

Just think about the anatomy of a cats’ tongue. The common sand paper feel of a cat’s tongue is actually many small barbs that face backward, which benefits a cat when grooming. When presented with a material like a string or other fabrics, these barbs can act like Velcro and practically force the cat to continue to ingest and swallow the item, rather than spit it out. Once swallowed, the toy can then cause serious problems if not recognized and treated quickly.

Among the feathers, bells and colors that catch the fancy of our furry feline friends, the following is a list of seven to be mindful of when you purchase or toss them a toy.

1.Catnip

Catnip is not addictive although it is intriguing to see how cats react when we throw down a catnip toy or they find a patch of catnip in the garden.

Catnip is an attractant. It secretes a unique blend of chemicals that trigger the giddy response. They simply enjoy it. There is nothing harmful in catnip itself. The problems arise if the catnip gets wet, is stored improperly or treated with pesticides. It can get moldy and cause stomach issues. Cat owners should consider buying certified organic catnip or toys containing organic catnip.

2.Elastic lines

There are several types of cat toys that are attached by an elastic or stretchy lines or cords; they’re all proven winners in giving your kitty some jumping exercise. They turn dangerous, however, if the line is chewed up and swallowed, which is not a difficult thing for cats to do. If the line becomes detached from the wand it can get caught under the cats tongue or loop around a rear tooth like a lasso, while the other end is swallowed. The lines can act like a curtain on a curtain rod and loop around the cat’s intestines and constrict. This can cause serious lacerations and could be deadly.

3.Dangling toys        

Some toys have parts that dangle involving strings or thread, and cats can get tangled, but the potential threat is what can happen later. When a cat gets tangled up in strings, cords or even something as flimsy as thread dangling from a toy, it’s not the tangling that’s a hazard as much as the cat’s attempts to free themselves.

We have all seen a cat trying to wrestle with a roll of yarn they’re all caught up in, their actions usually involve them wildly thrashing around, and that in itself puts them at risk as the line becomes even tighter. As thin as one strand of thread is, a dozen strands together can prove lethal.

4.Sparkle balls

Colorful and sparkly balls are made small to entice playful pets into a game of chase and catch. One thing leads to another in kitty world, and cats being what they are, they can easily swallow the little balls in a single gulp.

Being made out of fabric, faux fur, fibers and other equally absorbent material, cats can’t always expel sparkly balls if they should try to throw them up like grass or a hair ball, and therein lies the danger. In such cases, the toy moves farther down the intestinal track where it can cause serious internal damage and even cause obstruction, requiring surgical intervention.

5. Feathers

Feathers can be a choking hazard for cats when they end up eating them, as veterinarians can attest. There are additional problems with the commercial kinds of feathers made into cat toys, though.

In addition, the points at the ends of feathers are sharp and can either cause lacerations or get lodged in cats’ mouths and throats. “Stuck” objects can cause discomfort and even pain for cats and be potentially dangerous. Additionally, feathers in or on toys have usually been dyed or chemically treated, making them potentially toxic or irritating to the GI tract.  

6.Toys with bells

Toy manufacturers pull out all the stops when they make ever more imaginative trinkets for cats to play with, so to put bells on or in toys only seems fitting. But there’s a drawback with these, as well, because cats love to chew on their prey, and when they “catch” the bell, it’s just one more texture to nosh on.

Curious cats might not be able to resist chewing and swallowing little bells, and while some of them might be small enough for a cat to pass, that’s not always the case. If the pieces aren’t small enough to pass naturally, the metal can break down in the cat’s intestine and emit dangerous toxins.

7. DIY toys

Not many cat lovers have been able to resist putting together toys to catch the attention of their playful cats. It no doubt saves money, and cats often play with homemade toys as enthusiastically as those purchased in expensive pet stores.

Hair ties, rubber bands and all types of string, from dental floss to butcher string, can be ingested with disastrous results. Even manufactured toys aren’t guaranteed to be safe when cats use their teeth and claws to go after a toy they really like, and that’s doubly true with do-it-yourself toy creations. A great DIY cat toy is an organic cotton baby sock filled with organic catnip and knotted or sewn closed. Simple, safe and enjoyable.

Cat Toys: Put the Toys Away

Especially if you happen to notice that your cat has stopped chasing and is now chewing on their toy, it’s time to intervene. That particular toy may have served its initial purpose and should now be retired if it’s become a chew toy. It’s anybody’s guess how many weird things cats have swallowed, and most vets could tell you a story or two (or more) about what they’ve found on the job involving cat toys. If your cat may have eaten something he shouldn’t have, Pet Health Network6 lists several symptoms to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdomianl tenderness or pain
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy

Prevention is always better than having to search out a cure. Keep small objects off the floors or otherwise accessible surfaces. Especially if you know your cat is a “getter,” every thread, thumbtack and coin is fair game. If you have to, go through the rooms your cat has access to and make sure nothing is “gettable.” If your cat has walked away from a toy and it’s clear he’s moved on to other amusements, get the toy and put it in a safe place where it can’t be reached until it looks like your cat is again ready for some play time.

Keep in mind that clever cats often find ways to obtain what you think is out of sight and out of mind. Additionally, if you notice changes in behavior such as hissing, meowing loudly or struggling to get away uncharacteristically when you try to pick him up, there may be a problem.

It never hurts to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible to be sure there’s not a life-threatening problem. As always, if you’re pretty sure your cat has swallowed something he shouldn’t have, call your vet immediately. Beyond that, it never hurts to supervise or at least be in the same vicinity where your cat is playing.

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