Avoid these unsafe cat toys

Cats love toys, and playing with your cat is a great way for you and your cat to spend quality time together. Plus, the exercise will help your cat stay in shape, and stay mentally challenged as well. Luckily, there are a wide variety of toys to choose from, depending upon your own cat’s playtime preferences. One of my cats is especially fond of fishing-pole type toys, while my other cat is crazy for catnip toys. Whatever type of toy is your own cat’s personal favorite, here are some toys you should steer clear of:

String-like objects
Cats love to chase strings, but any long stringy object (yarn, ribbons, twine, elastic string, rubber bands, etc) can result in an intestinal injury or an obstruction if your cat ingests it. Keep in mind that your cat doesn’t intend to swallow a string. Once it gets inside the mouth, the backward-facing barbs on your cat’s tongue make it difficult for your cat to get the object back out of his mouth.

Make it safe: Look for linear toys with substantial bulk that can’t be swallowed by your cat, such as thick leather shoelaces or the soft belt from a bathrobe. If you can’t resist enticing your cat with string-like objects, just make sure they are put safely away when playtime is over. This also means that those fishing-pole toys should be put out of reach when you’re done playing.

Paper bags with handles
Lots of cats enjoy getting inside paper bags, but avoid bags with handles. A curious cat can get his head stuck in the handles and become frightened and possibly injured in the mad dash to get away from the attacking bag. If this happens when you’re not home to disentangle your cat, it can be a terrifying experience for your cat. Also, make sure not to place the bag where someone can accidentally step on the bag, not realizing the cat is inside.

Make it safe: This is an easy fix — simply cut or remove the handles to create a safe, fun and inexpensive toy for your cat. Or, try a cat-sized box instead.

Small objects
To prevent a choking hazard, avoid anything that’s small enough for your cat to swallow, or that has small parts that can be chewed off and swallowed.

Make it safe: Remove those glued-on decorations like bells, plastic eyes, feathers and dangling strings before you give the toy to your cat. Any ball you give your cat should be around the size of a ping-pong ball (which makes a fun and inexpensive toy, by the way). Regularly inspect your cat’s toys for signs of wear and replace anything that’s becoming frayed, chewed-up, or coming apart.

Cats have a natural desire to play, pounce, leap and run about and they’re easily entertained with a little effort. If you don’t provide your cat with appropriate, safe toys, he’ll almost certainly find something around the house to play with—and it may not be something you’d like to become a cat toy.