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Dec 01 2011

Choosing Cat Toys

With the approaching holiday season, many cat owners purchase toys as gifts for their furry family members. It is important to make sure that any toys are safe – avoid toys with small pieces that could be easily swallowed. It is beneficial to choose toys that provide exercise and mental stimulation to your cat

Outdoor cats may be able to get enough exercise and mental stimulation through exploration, but venturing outdoors comes with risks from encounters with traffic and other animals. Keeping your cat indoors provides a much safer and more controlled environment for your furry friend, but you will have to provide your indoor cat with much needed exercise and relief from boredom.

If you have more than one cat, they may play with each other, but for a single cat, the humans in your family will have to entertain your pet.

Playing with your cat can seem a pretty simple principle, but not all cats enjoy the same type of play. As the first step, you will need to find out how your cat likes to play – does she prefer toys or would she rather play games with a playmate?

Some cats like toys with strings or other parts that wiggle when batted about, while others prefer toys that make noises from bells, squeakers or cellophane. Your cat might like wind-up or battery-operated toys that move about randomly, or she might be terrified by these mechanical marvels.

Some general principles to follow to keep your cat entertained are:

  • Keep it simple – many cats decide that their favorite toys are empty boxes, bathroom tissue tubes, empty paper bags, or crumpled bits of newspaper
  • Provide variety – when a sound or motion is repeated in a predictable pattern, many cats become bored. Vary the speed at which you bounce a toy on a kitty wand, drag a toy across the carpet or wiggle a laser pointer along the floor. Swap toys occasionally to keep the game fresh.
  • If your cat seems to be bored with a toy, put it aside for a few weeks rather than pitching it out. Chances are that the toy will recapture your cat’s interest when reintroduced later.
  • Set aside some time every day to play with your cat, especially if she is an ‘only cat’.
  • Don’t use your fingers or toes as ‘pounce toys’ for a kitten – although a young kitten may not be able to hurt you too much, those adult teeth and claws can be dangerous weapons that can inflict unintentional injury.
  • Always consider safety. Never let your cat play with yarn or string since these materials are easy to swallow and can cause a life-threatening obstruction in the stomach or intestines (called a ‘linear foreign body’ by veterinarians).
  • Consider purchasing automated interactive toys that your cat can play with when you’re not around.
  • If you get toys that are catnip impregnated, be aware that some cats do not respond to the chemicals in catnip, while others can become excessively excited.

For more information on environmental enrichment for the indoor cat, go to the website of the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Indoor Pet Initiative at (http://indoorpet.osu.edu/) or contact our clinic staff, who would be happy to share some ideas on what may work for your cat and what you should avoid.

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Caution: These news items, written by Lifelearn Inc., are licensed to this practice for the personal use of our clients. Any copying, printing or further distribution is prohibited without the express written permission of Lifelearn Inc. Please note that the news information presented here is NOT a substitute for a proper consultation and/or clinical examination of your pet by our clinic veterinarian.

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