Choosing Safe Cat Toys and Presents

String and toys with glued-on decorations and removable parts are not recommended for cats.

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Safe Toys and Gifts Month is in DecemberWhile a ball of string might seem like a harmless toy for your cat, many feline health practitioners say it is a serious health hazard.

Cats’ tongues are covered with sharp, backward-facing barbs that can make it difficult to spit out the string. If the string gets stuck in your cat’s mouth, the cat or kitten might continue to swallow the string, which can cause internal blockage and intestinal injuries.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recommends avoiding small balls, yarn, ribbon, tassels, rubber bands and bells as cat toys. Toys should also be checked for glued-on decorations or trim. Stay away from cat toys that have shiny bits of metal that pets could swallow. When choosing cat toys, avoid any that might be a choking hazard, such as toys with small parts or that have pieces that could become dislodged during play. Also, make sure the toys are non-toxic.

So what types of toys are good for pet cats? The HSUS and Dumb Friends League recommend:

  • Round, plastic shower curtain rings that can be batted around, hidden or carried
  • Soft, stuffed animals. For some cats, the stuffed animal should be small enough to carry around. For cats that prefer to wrestle with the toy, the stuffed animal should be about the same size as the cat, according to the HSUS.
  • Plastic balls with or without bells inside
  • Ping-Pong balls
  • Plastic, practice golf balls with holes
  • Catnip-filled soft toys


    These toys will allow your cat to have fun and stay safe.

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    Reader Comments

    Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

    3/19/2013 11:51:33 PM

    Good to remember.

    Marilyn    Columbus, NE

    10/30/2011 6:14:52 AM

    My six month old kitten found a small ball of yarn that I didn't know about. She had eaten it before my husband heard her choking and pulled about 12 inches of yarn out of her throat.

    Amanda    Greenville, SC

    12/24/2009 7:35:28 AM

    My sister's cat LOVES bouncy-balls. But as soon as they stop bouncing he looks at her or me and mews until one of us gets the ball bouncing again. He refuses to touch it sitting still or rolling lol

    Wendy    Nanaimo, BC

    12/20/2009 10:41:20 AM

    I'm surprised nobody has said that you should check the toys often, and replace them as soon as they get worn, ripped, or tattered.

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