Cats are playful and curious creatures by nature. They’re also born hunters, which is why cats enjoy playing with anything that might resemble their prey in the wild. Fur parents everywhere love to spoil their kitties with a multitude of different kinds of toys. Unfortunately, some toys can be risky for your furry friend. Not to worry, Cat in a Flat is here to talk you through potentially dangerous cat toys and tips on how to recognize when a toy is safe for your kitty. 

What dangerous cat toys should I avoid? 

Felines can entertain themselves with almost anything—sometimes even just normal objects! While regular household items like bubble wrap and corks are usually harmless (and make great no-waste Christmas gifts for cats), there are others which can be dangerous toys for your cat. Accidents do happen, and you want to make sure you keep your kitty happy and healthy, especially around the holiday season when there are more hazards than usual in the home. 

cat with toy

Toys cats should play with under supervision: 

Feather fishing rods

Feather rods are a fun and popular toy for our fur friends. However, there are a few hidden hazards you should be aware of. Feather rods often have string which cats can swallow. If the string is too long, it can also wrap around your kitty’s neck and possibly suffocate them. Keep feather rods hidden safely away in cupboards and only get them out when you’re able to supervise your fur friend. 

Tip: Make sure to keep similar objects out of your kitty’s reach. Laces, strings, and yarn can all be dangerous toys for your cat. 

Plastic play mice/birds

Plastic play mice or birds might not seem like they’d be a danger to your kitty. Most of the time they’re not, but as an owner (and a cat sitter) you need to take care that your feline friend doesn’t accidentally swallow any of the plastic parts. If the item is cheaply made it may break apart and your kitty could accidentally ingest something they shouldn’t. Supervise Mr Whiskers whenever he’s playing with a plastic cat toy. 

Tip: Instead of plastic creatures, why not opt for soft catnip-stuffed mice or birds instead? Make sure to keep it fun by batting the toy around so your kitty can chase it. 

Laser pointers

Laser pointers are great toys for any kitty with a hunting streak. It can be comical to watch them chase the little red dot around, but beware of the dangers with this particular cat toy. Take care when using a laser pointer because if the laser hits the cat’s eye, it can cause damage to the retina. 

Tip: Opt for a green laser pointer instead of a red one, and make sure it’s below 5 milliwatts in strength. Also, because your cat isn’t able to capture something physical with a laser pointer, you’ll need to give them the satisfaction of the ‘kill’. After playing with the laser pointer, give Mr Whiskers a toy he can grab and bite so he feels the positive effects of the chase. Be sure to treat your cat during and after playtime too, this helps reinforce it as an enjoyable experience. 

Soft plastic balls

While your kitty may enjoy batting a ball around, they should only do it under your supervision. Why? Because these types of balls are soft, they’re also easy to chew. This means your fur friend can potentially swallow small pieces of the ball. 

cat with yarn

Average items that are dangerous for cats

Whether you’re a fur parent or a cat sitter, you know that cats will play with anything that looks interesting. While some objects, like toilet paper rolls, can be completely harmless, others may prove dangerous toys for your cat. Here are a few items you shouldn’t leave lying around if you live with a feline or cat sit for them. 

Elastic bands/hair ties

Cats love to play with rubber bands and headbands. However, these items can also be easily and quickly swallowed, which makes them dangerous for cats. 

Ribbons

Everyone is exchanging gifts during the holiday season, but we know our fur friends are usually more interested in what the gifts come wrapped in. While wrapping paper can be safe to play with, you should be careful with gift ribbons. If swallowed, ribbon can cause intestinal obstructions and indigestion. 

Yarn and thread

Unfortunately, yarn is one of the more dangerous toys for your cat. Yarn can wrap around a kitty’s intestine if swallowed, or potentially even around their necks, which can cause them to suffocate. It’s best to keep yarn and thread out of Mr Whiskers’ reach. 

Plastic bags

Many kitties love to dive inside plastic bags because they make a funny rustling noise. But plastic bags are one of the more dangerous household items for cats. Your fur friend could crawl inside and not find his way out again. In the worst case scenario, they can suffocate. Some cats also like chewing plastic bags. Ingesting plastic can cause serious intestinal obstructions which may lead to your kitty needing surgery. 

Plants

With more people than ever working from home these days, we all like to spruce up our home offices with plenty of greenery. If you and your cat live in an apartment, you might also like to place plants around the home to give your kitty the feeling of being outdoors. However, there are many plants out there which can be very dangerous if your cat eats them. Be aware of which plants are poisonous for cats and opt for kitty-friendly ones like calatheas or succulents.  

Open windows

While open windows aren’t technically an item Mr Whiskers can play with, they can be dangerous for cats. Be careful about leaving your windows ajar, especially if you’re not home. Felines love to explore and it’s easy for a kitty to accidentally jump out a window, get stuck on a ledge, or escape.

Cat sitters: pay particular attention to this as you may be asked by owners to open a window to air out their home while they’re away. Make sure you always tightly close all windows between visits with your kitty clients!

How to keep my cat safe during and after playtime

Of course, you don’t want to completely ban all fun things from your home. Make sure to keep things like cords, ribbons, and threads out of your kitty’s reach. And remember, just because they’re dangerous for cats when unsupervised, doesn’t mean your fur friend can’t play with them at all. Keep an eye on your kitty while they are playing with these household items, or with any of the toys mentioned above, then put them away in a safe place afterward. 

Cat sitters: make sure to check in with your kitty client’s owners about the proper way to use their toys. When a kitty’s owners are away, they’re alone for most of the day and may get bored. Always spend some time playing with your fur friend and then properly put the toys away once you’re done. And be sure to leave something behind to keep Mr Whiskers busy until your next visit. Hiding treats around the home or putting them in a fumble board can provide a great source of solo entertainment for a cat. 

What are safe cat toys?

Don’t despair, not all toys are dangerous for your cat, and many can be used without supervision. Fumble boards and cat mazes can stimulate your kitty’s brain and give them something to do while you’re away. Catnip pillows or high-quality play mice offer hours of solo play. And collapsible tunnels are the best substitute for dangerous plastic bags. 

Of course, not all toys have to cost you. Cats love boxes and these are safe for them to play with. Crumpled up paper, toilet paper rolls, or bunched up socks also make fun, free toys and will often keep a cat busy for a long time. 

If you’re headed back to work and worried about leaving your cat alone, check out our tips for managing your cat’s separation anxiety

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