Kitties Love Cat Toys: But are Their Toys Really Safe?

Feline guardians derive great pleasure from spoiling their kitties since making their cats happy is a priority. Guardians may go to great lengths to find ways to entice them, delight them and to keep their highly intelligent brains stimulated. The word “Catification” has become one of the newest and most popular buzzwords avid feline lovers are adding to their feline-related vocabulary.

Feline guardians build magnificent catios for their kitties, purchase cat trees, scratching posts, hang designer shelves on walls to create super highways, ply them with music and kitty TV to keep them occupied and entertained. Cats are given the best litter and litter boxes, and are nourished with wholesome food. In fact- there is practically nothing feline guardians won’t do to try and keep their cats happy and content.

Although feline guardians spend considerable time engaged in interactive play with their cats, tempting them with the most appealing toys, in reality are all the toys they use completely safe? Based on my recent experience with the Ethical Pet Telescoping Kitty Teaser Cat Toy, (an extremely attractive and alluring item), I was terribly disappointed that this toy was downright dangerous.

The feathers are attached to a plastic housing that holds a thin nylon cord. This puts a cat at risk of receiving a serious mouth injury. With one quick leap and bite, Aki, my young Oriental Shorthair pulled the feathers out of the plastic housing, grabbed the feathers in his mouth, and ran away. I had quite a struggle to take them away from him to prevent his ingesting them.

Multipet Cat Toy: Facebook
Multipet Cat Toy: Facebook
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I have been trying my darndest to find a toy our cats will go bonkers over but won’t endanger them. After considerable searching that yielded few results, it became apparent to me that the majority of cat toy manufacturers aren’t that entirely cat savvy and simply overlooked the safety factor.
Almost every feather/wand toy is made with plastic housings which easily separate from the wand. The feathers can quickly be pulled out of the housing by a determined kitty. This not only destroys the toy; a cat can easily chew and swallow the loose feathers.

Feather and wand cat toy
Ethical Pet Telescoping Kitty Teaser Cat Toy ($5.87) — Source of photo: Internet

One review of a very popular feather/wand toy read,

“After my cat destroyed this within minutes of us playing with him, he somehow got a hold of the little black cap (after we threw it away), that connects the feathers to the string. He ended up swallowing it (likely not on purpose) and that little black cap got lodged in his intestine and our poor cat spent days in the hospital, having surgery to remove the damn thing, and $4,000 later, I will never, ever buy any toy like this ever again. As I realize it’s not the fault of the company completely, not putting little pieces on toys for animals like this would avoid incidents like this from happening. VERY disappointed!!!”

Another review from a rescue group read,

“The kitten was playing with her toys while they were at work and a feather got stuck in her throat, subsequently choking her. We share their devastation in this terrible loss and want to warn anyone with young kittens to stay away from feather toys.”

Many cloth toys stuffed with catnip are hardly any safer. The beaded eyes, the leather ears and tails can easily end up in a cat’s digestive tract. In order ensure the cat’s safety, it’s prudent first remove the ears, tails and eyes. I initially believed that Rosie the Rat was relatively safe (after removing the eyes and tail) but Aki managed to eat most of the fur off the Rat.

The majority of cat toys should only be used under the guardian’s strict supervision. Toys that are relatively safe, such as nylon tunnels, The Bergan Scratcher Cat Toy, ping-pong balls, paper bags (with handles removed) cardboard boxes, felt mice stuffed with catnip (no ears, tails and eyes) are all toys that don’t require constant supervision. Aki goes bonkers over small rolled up paper balls since they skim across the floor really well. Some cats enjoy playing with ice cubes, and some kitties truly “get off” on Catnip filled Banana toys.

We love to play with our kitties and some toys appear to be the “Cat’s Pyjamas”. However, interactive toys require careful supervision to keep our beloved kitties safe.

What safe toys do you recommend for cats? Share your suggestions with a comment. Do you make your own cat toys?

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

18 thoughts on “Kitties Love Cat Toys: But are Their Toys Really Safe?”

  1. I’ve pretty much gotten to the point where I won’t buy any more manufactured toys.
    My cats are perfectly content to play with any sort of box, toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls. When they seem to get bored with them, I have a catnip spray that I spray on them.
    I can’t discount that they, also, love to play and wrestle in my dirty or (oh, goodness) clean laundry.
    Cats are experts at finding amusement.

  2. Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

    Also sequins, as shown on the feather toy, could really cut up a cat’s insides. A lot of cat toys are cheap junk made in China and even if the cats are given such toys, I don’t let them have them. They’re like small children where that sort of thing is concerned except small children don’t have the hunting instinct compelling them to kill everything and eat it. I’m sort of surprised feathers can be so harmful since birds appear to be part of their prey diet, but I know rubber bands can harm them. Another danger of the fishie toys with the pole and dangling teaser is the cord. When Cisco was little, I laid his beloved fishie toy on the floor because he still liked to chase the toy even when I wasn’t holding it, but somehow he got the cord wrapped around his neck and then tried to take the pole through the cat door and almost strangled his silly little self. Fortunately this happened while I was home. So I only bring out the fishie toy when I’m here to play with it with him, which is how it’s supposed to be used anyway.

  3. i buy the largest catnip toys for the boys – then i spray them with catnip oil. i totally understand about how harmful some of the cat toys can be for our furred children.

  4. We have a toy here for your cats that is hand made. We make them for our cats and they are durable and fun to play with. We know where the parts for the toy came from and that they are tested by our cats as safe. Will send it soon. I have basically given up on most toys with the exception of the ferret balls, with the bells in them, that the cats adore and the mini tennis balls. Thanks for the article. Will be sending toy soon.

  5. Thankfully, we have never had any problems of this terrible nature! But I do know it’s very important to inspect toys for wear, damage, etc. and never leave any that might pose a danger lying around. The wand toys, for instance, are made for INTERACTIVE play and I always put them away after use, in a box in a closet where they cannot be pilfered. The toys that are out have never been a problem, and they are balls, well-made catnip toys, and one-piece plastic “jacks” and the like. I would recommend buying only a few well-made toys rather than a lot of poorly-made ones, and rotating them/keeping them in a safe, secure place when not in play. Just like products for humans, choosing a few well-made, high-quality things is always better than having a houseful of junk.

  6. All teaser with any type of feather or sparkly ending should be put up if not in use. I put them in a drawer that way I know my guys will not get to them. I remove any eyes, tails and ears off of mice. Mine do love the cat track and anything that has a ball that they can smack around in it. For catnip toys I only use Yeoww catnip toys they are strong and hold up very well, even after being chewed on. Of course boxes and paper bags are a favorite. Mine also love the white 3″ to 4″ stuffed white pelts. Something about white they love. Also I have found after Easter I go and buy lots of large and some small plastic easter eggs. They make great toys to bat around, putting a treat or a little catnip makes it all the more exciting. Warning small easter eggs will end up under the couch or anything else. LOL it is time to clean the stash under the couch anyway.

  7. I make and sell katnip toyz. Toyz are constructed with kitty’s safety in mind (there are no small objects which could fall off and be ingested); fabric has been carefully chosen and washed, seams are double-stitched and the toyz kontain generouz amountz of organic katnip.

    Soon Sir Hubble, Poe and Aki will receive toyz to test because of their mom’s participation in submitting ideas for a new line. Hoping they will submit their thoughts on the safety and enjoyment of the toyz!

    1. rosie raddatz WOW Thanks so much. The boyz will be thrilled to have safe toys and they will happily write a review. I know they will be safe because I know how incredibly careful you are with all things feline. Bonks and purrs to you!

  8. My policy is:
    NO FEATHERS EVER!
    So easily ingested. They may as well as be eating my carpet as one on my cats recently did.

  9. I usually inspect toys carefully before buying them,unless I get them online or someone gives them to me.

    “Interactive” means that I use them interactively with my cat.

    I noticed another danger yesterday, although not a toy. I take my cat out on a leash, and sometimes just let her wonder around close by. Yesterday, she laid down for a long time in the grass. When I picked her up to carry her in, I noticed a lot of “foxtail” like stickers in her fur. I knew that these could cause problems, so I spend several minutes finding each one, all over her body, and pulling them out with tweezers. She was so patient, it was as if she knew what I was doing. I’m just so glad I noticed.

  10. Some toys are direct supervision and have to be out of sight contained when not in play.
    Others are played with in the room when we are there but put in the toy box when we are gone or out of the room.
    My cats have feathered toys that they have had for years. Our new addition demolished the feathers in a heart beat.
    for the bat around toys. If I can pull it apart or pull something off of it either it’s not safe or I remove the suspicious parts.
    One of the favorites here is an empty paper towel roll soaked with catnip spray. Mercy has Skunky made by smarty kat I believe that has endured much love.
    It’s also a good idea to inspect toys periodically.

  11. I use a feather toy for feral kitties. I need the kitties to know I’m not dangerous (God alone knows what their relations with humans have been. But these toys are only used for a very short time to accustom kitty to my being around and not hurting or scaring him or her. The toys are removed from the room and placed on the top shelf of the closet. Cardboard boxes, cat trees without carpet, Sisal scratching posts, plain catnip scattered on the floor, and soft toys without appendages, wiffle balls and scrunched paper without writing are in pails in each room for the kitties to choose their favorites. As my furkids get older, they are more interested in petting and ear rubs and belly scratches than toys.

  12. Thanks for this Jo. I have some cat toys. I don’t really rate them that highly. Gabriel often prefers a piece of cardboard in the waste bin even when there is a pile of nice shinny playthings for him in the corner of the room.

    And they can be dangerous. My advice to at the very least be very selective with cat toys or avoid them completely. But that is just me.

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