By Elisa Black-Taylor
My friend Jennifer had a YouTube video posted to her wall today, showing several kittens playing inside of hamster balls. I’m not sure how many of you have ever owned a hamster, or a gerbil, but they enjoy running around on the floor inside a ball. The ball may be clear, or any number of colors. The important thing is the pet inside can see where it’s going.
I’m not sure whether or not I like this toy as a form of entertainment for a kitten. Take a look at a few of the videos available on YouTube. All you have to do is Google “kittens in hamster balls.” This use for the hamster toys appear to be enjoyable for the kittens using it. A kitten may play alone inside the ball, or a littermate can push the ball around with another kitten inside of it.
The idea has been around for at least a few years, as Huffington Post reported on it back in June of 2011. Michael did a story on it back in February 2012. There were only a few comments on his story, and there are a lot of new friends to the PoC website here.
The idea seems to have grown a lot in popularity since both the PoC and Huffington Post articles. With the number of exploited cats now being marketed on YouTube and other websites, I thought this a good time to bring up this topic again.
Maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic in worrying about a kitten becoming stuck inside. It would definitely be a toy that would require supervised play. I picture the kitten turning it’s body in such a way to become trapped. If the kitten can’t get air, how long would it take to suffocate inside the hamster ball? If memory serves me, the ball can be twisted apart, so if the kitten runs into a problem, it’s easy to free it from the ball.
The hamster ball reminds me of the glass jar photo that was passed around a few years ago. The one with a kitten curled up inside a jar and possibly trapped. A lot of my friends thought that one was funny, but just as many found it upsetting and in bad taste. Exploiting the cat, if you really care to critisize the online photo.
Then there’s the reasoning behind getting your kitten a hamster ball. Are you doing it to entertain the kitten, or to entertain yourself, while having an opportunity to put something really cute on YouTube. People are YouTube crazy these days. Enthusiasts are always on the lookout for the next thing likely to go viral.
The kittens in the videos appear to be having lots of fun. It gives them something interesting to do. Hopefully, the kitten involved soon learns to escape the ball before it gets dizzy or injured. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with hamster balls for kittens, providing people don’t start pushing kittens down staircases or using them as soccer balls.
As far as dogs wanting to play inside a see-through ball, I don’t see it happening. Cats are much more curious about their toys. They investigate, where dogs tend to sniff and then walk away.
Have any of the readers purchased a hamster ball for their kittens? How do you feel about all the YouTube videos showing kittens in these balls? Are you nervous, or do you clap your hands and laugh?
Associated page: Homemade cat toys