Cat Toys: Everything You Need To Know

Cat Toys: Everything You Need To Know
aren’t all fun and games for your cat; whether elaborate or simple, toys give your cat exercise, mental stimulation, a chance to act on hunting instincts, and a way to bond with you.

There are so many cat toys on the market. It can be tough to pick ones that are both safe and appealing for your kitty.

Cat toys can range from free, homemade distractions to battery-powered devices. But regardless of the price tag, safety comes first.

Cats should never have any toy that includes loose string or yarn. The papillae that give the cat’s tongue its rough texture act as tiny hooks to draw the string or yarn into the cat’s throat.

Once ingested, string or yarn can lead to serious, even deadly, problems in the digestive tract.

You can find plenty of items around the house that make safe and fun toys for your cat, starting with a plain brown paper sack whose crinkly texture delights cats, especially if the back is large enough to crawl inside.

Empty boxes, from soda cases to cardboard boxes, are cat magnets.

Boxes too small to hold your cat can contain small or treats; cut small holes in the boxes so cats will be challenged to fish out the goodies such as store-bought “mice” or small balls.

Interactive Help You Play & Bond
You can join in the fishing fun with a fishing rod or teaser style toy with a wand that lets you easily move the toy and keep it just out of your cat’s reach for interactive play.

Toys like the MeoHui cat feather toy or the KONG active feather teaser catnip toy have easy-to-hold wands for you with feathery temptations at the other end of the toy for your cat.

Another toy that lets you be part of the game is a laser pointer specially made for pets. Although they should never be pointed in a pet’s eyes and only used with adult supervision, these low-level laser toys delight cats as they chase the light.

And if your hands are full, toys such as the SereneLife Automatic Cat Laser Toy, have an automatic timer so you can set it for a few minutes of play and exercise time for your cat.

Toys can also provide fun and challenge for your cat when you’re away. Catnip-filled toys fascinate some cats — only about half of all cats are fans of catnip — while balls, whether crinkly, rattling, or fuzzy, delight others.

For more interactivity, look for toys that challenge cats like the Cheese Chase from Petstages. A translucent track holds a ball and tempts felines to slap the ball in circles while a top compartment with holes tests cats with another ball contained inside.

And toys that contain treats — or your cat’s dry food — can make a meal last and help your cat maintain a healthy weight at the same time. Fill a toy like the PetSafe’s SlimCat, then watch your cat have fun rolling the ball around the room, dispensing one piece at a time as it rolls.

Just as with children’s toys, one of the keys to success is to rotate cat toys, leaving one out just a few days, then putting it away for a while for reintroduction later. And, just as with a two-legged child’s toy, don’t forget to save the box the toy came in — that can often be just as much fun!

What kind of does your kitty prefer? Which ones would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

There are many factors that contribute to the safety or danger of a toy. Many of those factors, however, are completely dependent upon your cat’s size, activity level and personal preference. Another factor to be considered is the environment in which your cat spends her time. Although we can’t guarantee your cat’s enthusiasm or her safety with any specific toy, we can offer the following guidelines.



Be cautious
The things that are usually the most attractive to cats are often the very things that are the most dangerous. Cat-proof your home by checking for: string, ribbon, yarn, rubber bands, plastic milk jug rings, paper clips, pins, needles, and anything else that could be ingested. All of these items are dangerous, no matter how cute your cat may look when she’s playing with them.

Avoid or alter any toys that aren’t cat-proof by removing ribbons, feathers, strings, eyes, or other small parts that could be chewed and/or ingested.

Soft toys should be machine washable. Check labels for child safety, as a stuffed toy that’s labeled as safe for children under three years old, doesn’t contain dangerous fillings. Problem fillings include things like nutshells and polystyrene beads. Also, rigid toys are not as attractive to cats.



Recommended toys
Active toys

Round plastic shower curtain rings are fun either as a single ring to bat around, hide or carry, or when linked together and hung in an enticing spot.
Plastic rolling balls, with or without bells inside.
Ping-Pong balls and plastic practice golf balls with holes, to help cats carry them. Try putting one in a dry bathtub, as the captive ball is much more fun than one that escapes under the sofa. You’ll probably want to remove the balls from the bathtub before bedtime, unless you can’t hear the action from your bedroom. Two o’clock in the morning seems to be a prime time for this game.
Paper bags with any handles removed. Paper bags are good for pouncing, hiding and interactive play. They’re also a great distraction if you need your cat to pay less attention to what you’re trying to accomplish. Plastic bags are not a good idea, as many cats like to chew and ingest the plastic.
Sisal-wrapped toys are very attractive to cats that tend to ignore soft toys.
Empty cardboard rolls from toilet paper and paper towels are ideal , especially if you “unwind” a little cardboard to get them started.
Catnip

Catnip-filled soft toys are fun to kick, carry and rub.
Plain catnip can be crushed and sprinkled on the carpet, or on a towel placed on the floor if you want to be able to remove all traces. The catnip oils will stay in the carpet, and although they’re not visible to us, your cat will still be able to smell them.
Catnip sprays rarely have enough power to be attractive to cats.
Not all cats are attracted to catnip. Some cats may become over-stimulated to the point of aggressive play and others may be slightly sedated.
Kittens under six months old seem to be immune to catnip.
Catnip is not addictive and is perfectly safe for cats to roll in, rub in or eat.
Comfort toys

Soft stuffed animals are good for several purposes. For some cats, the stuffed animal should be small enough to carry around. For cats that want to “kill” the toy, the stuffed animal should be about the same size as the cat. Toys with legs and a tail seem to be even more attractive to cats.
Cardboard boxes, especially those a tiny bit too small for your cat to really fit into.


Get the most out of toys
Rotate your cat’s toys weekly by making only four or five toys available at a time. Keep a variety of types easily accessible. If your cat has a huge favorite, like a soft “baby” that she loves to cuddle with, you should probably leave that one out all the time, or risk the wrath of your cat! Provide toys that offer a variety of uses – at least one toy to carry, one to “kill,” one to roll and one to baby.

Hide and Seek is a fun game for cats to play. Found toys are often much more attractive than a toy which is blatantly introduced.

Copyright Dumb Friends League and Humane Society of the United States. All rights reserved.

While your cat may sometimes find a cardboard box more entertaining than a cat toy, that isn’t to say she doesn’t appreciate the real deal. Providing a variety of cat toys will not only keep your cat active, playtime also gives her much-needed quality bonding time with you. While playing, you also might see your cat’s “natural instincts” come to life through stalking and pouncing. This playful attacking or “object play” does wonders to stimulate your her predatory behavior.

Variety—and Access—are Keys to Success
Your cat will enjoy a variety of toys, but some of the usual favorites are teasers, balls, toy mice, balls, catnip-filled toys and interactive toys. Don’t leave all of her toys out after playtime; your cat may become less interested in a toy if she has easy access to it. Some toys may also have small parts that your cat could eat or choke on, so make sure you supervise playtime.

Even the greatest toy on earth is no substitute for having a playdate. Make time for play sessions once or twice a day. What’s equally important is that you stop playing once your cat seems uninterested. So what should you bring to your playdate? Let’s explore your options:

Fishing Poles/Teasers
A favorite among cats and kittens, poles and teaser usually come with feathers, ribbons or other enticing items attached. Most cats love it if you animate the target, so keep the line moving and watch as she leaps through the air and performs graceful tricks. This type of play is great for sharpening your kitten’s natural skills like stalking, chasing or pouncing, without making you the prey.

Mice and Balls
Cats and kittens love small, furry toys that resemble other creatures. These toys look like prey and stimulate predatory instincts. After your cat has hunted for her toys, she may decide to bring you the kill. Praise her for a job well done to encourage more play. Always supervise your cat to make sure she doesn’t try to devour her toys. Eating these types of toys may not cause a problem right away, but watch for any signs of gastrointestinal distress and call your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Mylar balls, plastic balls with bells inside, balls filled with treats or catnip or even light-up balls make a game of fetch exciting and provide a great cardiovascular workout to help your cat stay active, flexible and coordinated.

Catnip Toys
Catnip is a member of the mint family and contains an essential oil called nepetalactone that can neurologically stimulate your cat. Reactions to catnip can vary: your cat may eat it, smell it, roll in it, get a sudden burst of energy or just mellow out and take a nap. When buying catnip toys, keep in mind that a kitten may not develop a sensitivity to catnip until four to six months of age, and that only 50 percent of all cats respond to catnip.

Scratchers
Scratching is a normal and usual cat behavior. Scratching helps cats remove the outer layers of their claws. This behavior acts like a cat manicure, and helps your cat mark her territory.

Cat scratchers not only give your cat an outlet for her natural instincts, they can save your carpet and furniture from wear and tear. Types of cat scratchers vary: choose from flat scratchers, trees, condos, ramps, towers and perches in an array of shapes and sizes. Some incorporate balls, feathers or toys to catch your cat’s interest, while others provide a comfortable resting spot for an afternoon nap.

Interactive Toys
Interactive puzzle toys help mentally stimulate your cat by engaging her in play when you’re not home. Many include balls and other items that inspire your cat to chase, bat and uncover hidden items. When you are home, a laser pointer can provide hours of interactive entertainment and exercise for your cat as he tries to catch the bright laser beam.

Household Items
Cats are naturally interested in common household items like string, twine, rubber bands, ribbon, paper, tissue, buttons, marbles, balloons, tinsel and aluminum foil, but they aren’t safe options. Your cat could easily swallow these items, and if they get stuck in her stomach or intestines, surgery may be required.

Also, get to know your cat. If you notice that your cat stalks the electrical cords in your house, you may want to invest in cord protectors. Doing so will limit the chances of your cat chewing through the cords and getting burned, shocked or electrocuted.


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