Toys That Are Safe for Your Kitten

Kitten playing with toy
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Kittens love toys, and half the fun of having a kitten is playing with him and his toys. Toys are healthy for developing kitten minds. Kittens that are deprived of toys may have difficulty learning to play with them as adults. As with children, a variety of toys are now on the market designed to stimulate the intellect and the various senses, as well as to appeal to different age groups. And as with children, chances are your kitten will wander into your cupboard and find a plastic cap he likes much better than the expensive toy you've just presented to him. But be careful before you let him play with items he's found around the house. Many of them can be choking hazards or toxic if swallowed.

When choosing a cat toy, whether homemade or store-bought, consider the following:

  • Many items people think of as traditional kitten toys are also some of the most dangerous. String, ribbon, yarn and rubber bands are fun to play with, but potentially deadly if swallowed. And they are very easily swallowed because cats have tongues covered with rearward-facing barbs that make it hard for them to spit out string, yarn and similar things. Such long objects, if ingested, tend to travel lengthwise along the intestines. They can cause the intestine to scrunch up accordion-style, even turning in on itself like a sock. This is a life-threatening medical condition that usually requires surgery to correct.
  • Fishing pole–type toys (a flexible stick with a line of string and a toy at the end) are lots of fun, but should be placed out of reach when you're not there to supervise.
  • Also be careful about toys you give your kitten that might have strings, yarn, ribbons, feathers or plastic eyes or ornaments on them. Many furry mice on the market had plastic eyes and noses glued on them. The kitten could chew these off and swallow them. If you buy these, pull the eyes and nose off before giving the toy to your kitten.
  • With plush toys, avoid fillings such as polystyrene beads, nutshells or beans.

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