Kittens are so sweet and cute—they’re also very playful. It’s so much fun giving our little fur babies toys to play with and then watch them chasing, throwing and hunting their pretend prey! When it comes to kitten toys, we often don’t really think about what we give them to play with. Kittens can make a toy out of anything—from string to feathers–they’ll be happy and imaginative with whatever you give them.
However, you should give a lot of thought and consideration to the toys you give your kitten. Just as we do with our human babies and young children, we have to watch out for hazards presented by our pet’s toys.
Cats Play with Anything & Everything
Kittens and cats will make anything into a toy. They are attracted to almost everything—from shiny pieces of jewelry to stuffed animals and everything in between. Cats turn their imaginations into creating wonderful games that we don’t often understand. We have the enjoyment of watching them play and so much fun when we play along with them. Everything is new for kittens—their whole world is full of possibilities, including possible playthings. They may find a pen and bat it around. Or maybe a kitten finds a small piece of balled up foil. This makes for great fun—she can bat it around and it makes crunchy noises when she steps on it or chews it.
Kittens also love fun cat toys you can find at the store or online. Now, you’d think that because these toys are especially made for kittens (and cats) that they’d be safe to give your fur baby. That’s just not the case. It depends on where the toy was made, the material it’s made of, and more. Not only that, but you have to consider what could happen if your kitten tears, breaks, bites off pieces of the toy, etc. It’s much the same when buying toys for a human baby. Cats and kittens are imaginative and will make toys out of anything. While that’s a good thing, it can also be dangerous and pose certain hazards. Let’s take a look at kitty toys to avoid, and then we’ll offer a few tips to help you find the best toys for your kitten.
Kitten Toys to Avoid
You can find such cute toys at the pet shop, the grocery store and even online. Such cute toys could be so much fun for your kitten! Let’s take a look at a few toys to avoid when shopping or even making homemade kitten toys for your precious bundle of fur.
1. Small Toy Mice
We’ve all seen these ever-popular fun cat toys at the store. They’re shaped like mice and are usually made with a fabric cover that’s stuffed and may contain some type of noise maker (like a bell or rattle). There may even be a little face on the mouse—making it too cute and enticing for you to pass up. The stuffing can be made of anything from batting, a combination of batting and Styrofoam beans, string or even a combination of these and small bits of who knows what. These toys sometimes contain rattles or small bells to gain kitty’s attention.
The problem with small toy mice is that kittens have very sharp teeth and claws, and they know how to use them. With small stuffed toys, your fur baby will likely tear through the outer fabric, then get into the stuffing, which can present a choking hazard if swallowed. Not only that, but the stuffing could even cause an intestinal blockage that requires surgery. The noise maker can present similar problems if swallowed or eaten.
In addition, if the mouse is small enough, it’s possible she might even try to eat it, causing a choking or digestive hazard
2. String, Yarn, Ribbon & Dental Floss
Kittens, and most adult cats, love to chase after a string you pull across the floor! In fact, string and yarn are considered traditional kitten and cat toys. We’ve all thought yarn and string were great toys for kittens and cats, but that’s simply not the case. While we’re on the topic of string and yarn, don’t forget that ribbons, thread and dental floss also fall within this category.
The main problem with string and yarn, etc. is that they can fray into single strands, which the kitten can (and usually does!) chew on. If she swallows a long strand of string or yarn, these can easily become a choking hazard, but can also cause intestinal blockages that lead to surgery.
Dental floss is not usually considered a traditional toy we give our cats and kittens. However, your kitten could be fascinated if she finds the end of some dental floss hanging from a counter or table, or even dangling over the edge of a waste basket. She may jump and grab it, running off to enjoy her prize! So be sure to throw dental floss away—putting it where your cat or kitten are not able to get it. Put your waste basket into a cabinet, if possible, or at least make sure it has a cat-proof cover, so kitty won’t help herself to floss and other “treasures.”
3. Hair Ties and Rubber Bands
These fall into the same category as string/dental floss/yarn/&ribbon. Cats love to get a hold of hair ties (either those that are like ribbon or those that are rubber bands covered with fabric) and rubber bands. These are easy for your kitty to flip, stretch, carry and more. It may be fun to watch her flipping your hair ties and rubber bands around, but consider the possible dangers.
Just like strings and yarn, hair ties and rubber bands can break, or kitty can easily chew off pieces and accidentally swallow them. Even worse, she could even swallow the entire band or tie. If swallowed, the rubber bands and ties can easily become choking hazards or cause a major intestinal blockage or worse.
4. Plastic & Cellophane
Cats also love plastic bags (dry cleaner bags, shopping bags, etc.) and cellophane (including plastic wrap, etc.) of all kinds. Leave a bag or plastic wrap laying around long enough, and your cat or kitten will quickly make it their own. The bag becomes a fun place to hide, making it easy to pounce on you (as the imagined prey animal) as you or another pet walk by. The cellophane (plastic wrap, etc.) is fun to stretch and claw, or if crumpled into a ball, kitty will enjoy batting this cellophane “ball” around the house. Often dogs tend to eat everything they can find, it is not rare to see a dog eat a plastic bag to be careful if you have several animals at home!
These may seem like harmless things for your kitten to play with, but they can quickly become dangerous playthings. If your kitten becomes stuck inside a bag, she may get scared and not know how to get out. The bag could cause your kitten to suffocate if she can’t get her head out. Another problem is plastic bags (or any bags) with handles. Your kitten or cat could get her head stuck, with the handles twisting tightly around her neck, leading to suffocation. We don’t mean to alarm you, but you need to know and understand the possible dangers these seemingly innocent items pose to your cat or kitten.
5. Peek & Play Toys
Peek & play toys are very popular with cat owners. These toys are created with your kitten’s hunting instincts in mind. The toys usually include some type of “box” with holes and inside the box are small balls that roll around. Your kitten sees the balls and wants to get them, so she reaches in with her “arm” to bat the balls around inside the box. These are great for keeping the balls from rolling all over the house where they might get lost; however, these toys can be dangerous, especially for kittens.
The problem comes when kitty wants to reach in and get the ball. She’s small and may be able to get her entire arm inside the box, which could lead to her trying to get her head through the holes, too. She tries to reach the ball but can’t, so pushes her little head through the hole, and then becomes stuck. Some kittens are even small enough to get their entire body through the hole. When this happens, your kitten will be completely trapped inside the box.
It can be more than challenging to get your fur baby out of the peek & play box toy
6. Feather Toys
Feather toys are another popular toy for cats—you can find them everywhere online and in pet shops. Kittens and cats love feather toys on a wand or even feathers attached to a string and drawn across the floor. They can’t avoid the temptation to pounce and bite! These toys, too, can be dangerous for your kitten or cat. Feathers may be sharp on the end, and if your kitty bites this part, she could cut her mouth. Feathers can also pose a choking hazard if your precious bundle of fur accidentally swallows them. Some cats are tempted to eat these feather toys.
If you chose to buy your kitten a feather toy, then only let her play with it when you’re supervising her playtime. Then if you catch her trying to eat it, you can take the feather away and give her some other enticing toy to distract her and let her keep playing.
The Best Kitten Toys
We’ve had a look at the dangers presented by even the most innocent of cat toys, so now let’s keep it balanced and review what to look for in the best kitten toys for your kitty.
1. Stuffed kitty toys
The best stuffed toys are made of felt—this goes for store-bought or homemade stuffed toys. Look for toys made in the US and look for catnip-filled stuffed toys with organic catnip grown in the US. Avoid buying toys with string (etc.), small parts or pieces that could easily come off and pose a choking hazard.
2. Balls & toys the right size
Make sure the toys and balls you buy for your kitten are big enough for her to carry, but not small enough that she could swallow them.
3. Paper bags & boxes
These make wonderful toys for kittens and cats. If the paper bag has handles, be sure to remove these before letting your kitten play with the bag. And for boxes, be sure to remove any small parts, fasteners (staples, tape, etc.) before allowing kitty to play with them.
4. String toys
If you’re really set on allowing your fur baby to play with these, then be sure to supervise her play at all times. When she’s tired of the game, then put the string and feather away for another playtime together later.
5. Cheap cat toys
Tempting to buy, but may contain or be made of materials hazardous for your kitten. Before buying cheap cat toys, be sure to check the labels for what the product and any stuffing are made of. Some of the best, inexpensive toys for your cat you can make right at home with safe materials such as felt and batting. Another inexpensive option is golf balls with holes. Use your imagination, but make sure any toy for your cat is safe by following the tips above.
We hope these tips help you find the best and safest toys for your kitten! She deserves only the very best. Have fun and keep your kitten safe and healthy by providing her with fun and safe toys for her play time.