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Are Crocheted Cat Toys Safe?

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If you are a dedicated cat owner, chances are, you want to provide the best things in this world for your lovely feline, including their toys. When you are on the hunt for the best cat toys, there are a myriad of different toys on the market, all made from different kinds of materials.

The price tag on cat toys differs vastly depending on the quality and size. One of the most popular types of toys for cats seems to be crocheted cat toys. Whether it’s store-bought or homemade, you want to make sure the toys you buy are safe for your pet.

Are crocheted cat toys safe for cats?

Unfortunately, crocheted cat toys aren’t totally safe for cats. Although they are made from non-toxic materials, the structure and the way these toys are produced can impose health hazards on your pet.

Cute kitten sleeps sweetly hugging a knitted toy rabbit

For instance, your cats can choke on small items, strings, or pieces of the toys if they rip them apart. When the toys are ripped, there is a possibility that cats will accidentally swallow pieces of them, causing obstruction and complication in their digestive system.

Often, crocheted cat toys include plastic eyes, tiny ribbons, bells, or small decorations that are glued to them. Besides these hazards, strings and yarn that are used to make cat toys are potentially harmful if your cats suddenly swallow them.

Is Yarn Safe for Cats?

Cats love to play with balls of yarn. If given the chance, they will push and roll the yarn balls with their paws before chasing them around the entire house. One of the reasons why cats are attracted to yarn balls is because of their natural hunting instinct.

Researchers and science experts confirm that yarn balls produce the same predatory instinct of cats as when they notice mice and other smaller prey.

It is no surprise that cats are attracted to dangling strings or items because these things remind them of snakes, reptiles, and other animals.

However cute and adorable they are, playing with yarn balls or a crochet yarn stash is not totally safe.

Here’s why:

  1. Yarn can cause obstructions. In some serious cases, surgery must be done when an object is ingested by cats. The long pieces of yarn can entangle around the tongue, teeth, or inside of cat’s mouth and stretch out through their gastrointestinal tract. Yarn can also injure or cut through intestinal walls when peristaltic movement happens during digestion. This can result in internal bleeding and infections.
  2. Yarn is one of the major causes of choking problems in cats. When this object is inhaled, ingested, or gets stuck in the back of a cat’s mouth, you need to quickly dislodge and remove it before it starts to asphyxiate and lose its breath.
  3. Yarn can also get twisted and wrapped around your cats’ legs, foot, and tail. If your cats’ foot gets twisted up in yarn, pain and swelling might occur due to the restricted flow of blood into that body part. Worst case scenario, if the yarn isn’t removed, constriction can cause necrosis or tissue death.
  4. A linear foreign body is another issue that yarn can cause. This happens when any long, thin object gets stuck inside the digestive tract of cats. In some cases, foreign bodies or objects will be vomited or exit the body when cats defecate. However, some long strings or yarn might take a little more time to come out, leading to serious obstruction in their bowel.

Aside from yarn, other string-like, long, and small items should always be put in a safe place to avoid your cats from playing with them. These include shoelaces, sewing thread, dental floss, curtain strings, rope, tinsel, ribbons, and more.

If you notice your cat has swallowed or chewed on crochet, yarn, or any strings, there are a few things that you should do to treat this issue or prevent it from happening again.

These include:

  1. Set an appointment with your veterinarian. If your cats have ingested yarn or any string-like objects, it is best for you to immediately take your pets for a medical check-up. Although your cats look completely fine after they have ingested the objects, they need a thorough scan at the clinic. The gastrointestinal obstruction could happen if the string is too long and it cuts through your cats’ intestines.
  2. Look for any behavioral changes in your cats. Unless your cats eat big balls of yarn or crochet, they won’t show any signs of distress or physical pain during the first few hours. So, you have to monitor their behavior until they show symptoms such as vomiting, difficulty breathing, trembling, seizures, and loss of appetite. You can also check the back of the cat’s tongue or throat slowly and look for any strings that are stuck or lodged in this region. You can try and pull it out slowly to prevent the strings from moving down further into your cats’ stomach.

If you’re still unsure about treating this problem at home, then you should consult your vet for a further check-up. A veterinarian will usually induce vomiting to remove the strings safely and comfortably.

If the strings have moved too far down their digestive tract, then your vet will set a surgery to remove the foreign object and look for injuries inside the cat’s intestines.

 kitten playing with balls of yarn

Choosing Safe Toys for Your Cat

Getting the best and safe toys for your cat is not that hard. There are a few things to consider when choosing which item is hazard-free and won’t cause any harm to your cats in the long run.

  • Avoid purchasing plush toys with bean-like decorations, nutshells, and polystyrene beads.
  • When giving electronic toys to cats, make sure that they can’t get the batteries out or the compartments are tight and secure enough to prevent the batteries from falling out.
  • If possible, try not to give cats any traditional toys such as strings, yarn, ribbons, or rubber bands. Although they are cheap and fun to play with, these items are choking hazards and can be dangerous if swallowed. If ingested, long objects like strings or yarn can cause obstruction and other long-term injuries to their digestive systems.
  • Avoid giving small balls that cats can potentially swallow. Small to medium-sized balls such as ping pong, plastic balls, or practice golf balls are completely safe, given that these balls don’t have any ornaments in and around them.
  • Kittens and cats love to play hide-and-seek or sit in paper bags. As long as the paper bags are big with enough room for them to breathe, you can totally let them play with these items. However, avoid giving them any plastic bags, no matter how big they are. They can easily asphyxiate inside a plastic bag.

No matter how safe the toys are, they should be given to your cats under supervision.

Colorful croheted mouse toy and crocheted ball on yellow background

Final Thoughts

Giving your cats a safe toy to play with will keep them active and healthy through a lot of physical exercise.

It is true that different toys might serve different purposes, but in general, toys encourage the movement and exercise of a cat’s entire body.

The best toys will also keep their senses sharp while giving them more reasons to bond and play with their owners.