There is a movement underfoot that follows on the heels of the pet food recall, which was a turning point for many pet owners. The recall created a greater awareness not only of what we feed our pets, but also of what we buy our pets that has an effect – sometimes unknowingly harmful – on their lives.
This movement is a long time coming, but ultimately, is creating better toys for cats. Cats, like children, are more susceptible to problems arising from products made with questionable materials than adults are. Like toddlers, cats spend countless hours on the floor, put toys in their mouths, handle the toys and then lick themselves, thereby increasing their exposure.
Although there is much debate about the safety of certain products, Environmental Working Group has done an interesting study on toxic chemicals as it relates to our pets. It is well worth a read. http://www.ewg.org/reports/pets Increasingly, manufacturers are becoming more responsible and are making toys for cats from natural and organic materials like cotton and hemp, and using natural dyes rather than chemical dyes.
But it’s still a young movement, and it takes diligence to make sure that you are not buying something that could be toxic to your pet, as there are still many questionable toys on the shelves. Just roam the aisles of any pet store. There are countless toys with parts that could come off and be choked on, cheaply made products, products made of questionable materials, painted toys that contain lead, and on and on.
Here are a few pointers on what to look for – and not – when choosing a new – or replacement – cat or kitten toy:
- Plastic – There has been alot in the news lately about the dangers of plasticizers used to keep plastic flexible. Plasticizers, called Phthalates, can be very harmful. The European Union has banned the use of phthalates in toys. Plastic water bowls might also leach chemicals.
- Rubber – Synthetic rubber often contains petroleum products which can be harmful. More manufacturers are now switching to natural rubber.
- Lead – Painted toys can contain lead that can cause multiple health problems. Unfortunately, there is no restriction or testing for lead in pet toys. But consider if a child’s toy is not safe from high levels of lead, why should a pet toy be?
- Foam – Although beds are not technically toys, they are an “accessory” that our pets spend countless hours in. Many beds are infused with dangerous chemicals to make them fire retardant or stain proof. This chemical residue is easily ingested over time as a cat sleeps in their bed, and licks themselves afterward.
How can you choose the best for your cat? Take the time to read labels. Choose only high-quality, super tough items made from organic, natural and/or recycled materials. Know where the product was sourced. Some people these days feel comfortable only with toys made in the USA because there is assumed better quality control.
Whether you choose to go this route or not, never buy toys you don’t know the origin of (often sold in clear plastic with no brand name). Don’t buy toys or collars with rhinestones or other doodads that could contain harmful substances.
Take the time now to go through your cat’s toys and throw away anything that could be harmful. Buy a few new good quality toys. Your pet deserves the best. Check out our Safe Cat Toys here.