“I was over at a friend’s house recently and was shocked to see him open a jug of milk and toss the little plastic tab onto the floor for his cats to chase (which they did rather enthusiastically, I should add). I noticed that there were a lot of these little tabs around on the floor. I know this to be dangerous as the cats might eat them but he said he didn’t have any problem. Is it alright to put down those little toys?”
Unfortunately, the correct answer is yes – and no. When selecting appropriate toys for a cat, think of what would be safe for a human infant or toddler. Unfortunately, there’re no regulations or cautionary statements on toys for pets so it’s up to you as pet owner to decide if the toy is alright. Simply put, if it can be swallowed, it’s dangerous.
The same backward-pointing barbs on a cat’s tongue that allow it to groom also make it difficult for them to remove items from their mouth.
String, yarn, floss, ribbon, twine, rubber bands, bells, etc. can be swallowed and may cause severe injury to your playful pet. Check toys for glued-on decorations or trim that could come off and be swallowed. The eyes on some playthings can be especially hazardous. For example, one very popular toy, those small mice made of real fur, have eyes that are tacks and should be removed before being given to your cat.
Be aware that while some toys (such as the ubiquitious milk bottle rings) may be perfectly safe for some cats others, specifically those that may have a penchant for chewing, may get into trouble with them.
Know your cat and if in doubt, supervise playtime with the new toy. Play with feathered toys should always be supervised as an exuberant cat will chew the feathers and the shafts can become lodged in the cat’s throat.
Generally, if you use common sense and provide safe, acceptable toys for your cat, the resulting mental and physical stimulation will produce a happier, healthier, pet.