How to Pick Safe Cat Toys
Did you know that the cat toy market is unregulated? This means that some of the mice, wands, plush toys, tunnels, balls, and lasers available for sale both in stores and online may be unsafe for your kitties. In fact, many cat toys (like the toy below) are made from materials that veterinarians say cats should avoid.
It is up to you, the cat parent, to decide which toys are safe to bring home for your kitties.
Yikes, that’s a big responsibility!
The Americat Company team (learn more about us) is here to help simplify cat toy shopping. In this article, we’re 1) giving tips on which cat toys to avoid, 2) sharing what to look for when purchasing cat toys, and 3) recommending our favorite, safe toy.
Dangerous Cat Toys
You wouldn't give your cats small, inedible pieces they can swallow. But have you ever considered whether cat toys have parts that your kitties can chew off and eat like the ones pictured below?
These toys and parts can be dangerous for your cats:
- Eyes, noses, ears, and tails that are not securely attached
- Small bells and pom-poms
- Batteries that can dislodge
- String-like materials (ribbon, yarn, rope, twine, floss, etc.)
- Rubber bands and elastic strings
- Sharp points and edges
It is frightening how many cat toys found online and in stores contain these materials!
Medical Hazards of Dangerous Cat Toys
Playing with unsafe toys makes cats susceptible to many health risks.
Small cat toy pieces can get stuck in cats’ larynxes and cause choking, potentially even causing cats to stop breathing.
Tip: Inspect your cats’ toys and cut off any pieces that can be chewed off or can fall off and be eaten.
Also, throw out any toys that start to tear.
You know how a cat’s lick feels like sandpaper? Cats’ tongues are covered in tiny barbs, which help them eat and groom themselves. Anything that gets caught on a barb is hard for cats to remove and usually gets swallowed.
Strings, rubber bands, and small pieces that have been swallowed can lead to partial or complete GI obstruction. This condition can be fatal and often requires surgery.
Tip: Dr. Alvarez from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine recommends avoiding cat toys that include feathers, strings, or sparkles, because cats who chew aggressively will ingest these parts.
Also, while wand toys are good for interactive play, cats can chew through the string if given enough time. Avoid this by putting away wand toys when you’re not playing with your cats.
Lacerations and Wounds
Any sharp edge can cause lacerations in the face, mouth, throat, and GI tract if ingested by cats.
Unfortunately, this happens often. Read one example of how a cat’s eye got scratched by a metal piece on a Petco cat tunnel, requiring surgery.
Tip: Unsafe cat toys are available everywhere! Even national pet store chains sometimes carry products that are dangerous for kitties. It’s up to you to dispose of any toys with sharp edges.
If you suspect that your cat has ingested anything that may cause choking, obstructions, or lacerations, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Safe Cat Toys
We recommend choosing cat toys that are:
1. Simple designs without parts or pieces that can easily come off
2. Made in the USA from U.S. materials
3. Made from non-toxic materials. (Avoid any toys that may contain BPA, lead, radioactive metals, or chemicals)
According to the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, “choose toys with sturdy construction that are manufactured (not just distributed) in the U.S. or Canada; ensure there are no loose decorations; cut off any loops or tags; and immediately remove any pieces that get chewed off.”
"Chase & Capture" Toys
The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine shares that balls are a great toy, because they let cats "chase and capture". Cats are fascinated by and love to swat things that move, like balls.
This particular ball spins and wobbles as it rolls, mimicking the irregular movements of cats’ prey in the wild. Cats love to “chase and capture” these balls.
Made in the USA
This cat toy (like all Americat Company products) is Made in the USA from U.S. materials for safety and high quality.
This safe ball toy does NOT contain any of the dangerous cat toy materials we have discussed. It is simply made from two U.S.-sourced materials: cardboard and non-toxic glue. Additionally, the glue is vegan, and FDA approved for food contact.
Your kitties thank you for being such a diligent cat parent and for treating them to the safest cat toys!