5 Safe Toys For Kittens

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What makes a toy unsafe for kittens? The number one thing you'll want to avoid when choosing a toy for your new kitten is anything easy for them to swallow. That means popular toys for cats that are small and narrow (like dental floss or rubber bands) should be avoided. If you're shopping for safe toys for kittens, experts have a few tips.

"Toys are not an option for kittens, they are absolutely essential," says Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM. "Look for ones that allow kittens to express their natural hunting behaviors — stalking, pouncing, 'killing,' and eating." According to Coates, toys that involve string or are smaller than an inch can be dangerous for young cats, especially if the kittens are left unattended, since the toys can be easily chewed up and swallowed.

Look for larger toys as you shop, like a tall cardboard scratcher they can claw at, or a wand that can mimic the effect of smaller toys like tiny tinsel balls or feather toys in a safer way. And, if your kitten prefers small toys that they can bat around and chase, just ensure you're buying ones that are large enough not to be a choking or swallowing hazard (i.e., toys larger than 1 inch).

Here are some safe toys for kittens, as recommended by experts.

1This Tall Cardboard Scratcher For Kittens To Claw At

This scratcher from Catit is one that pet expert Andy Krinner, from TTPM.com strongly recommends, especially for kittens, since scratching is an important way for felines to mark their territory, stretch, and remove dead layers of tissue from their claws. "Keeping plenty of cat toys on hand will help keep the kitty entertained and it should help keep destructive behavior to a minimum," says Krinner.

This scratcher is eco-friendly and comes with rotating cardboard disks that you can configure and adjust in really neat ways for pets. Since these are cardboard, kittens especially will have no issues clawing away, and in turn that can help them stretch and satisfy their innate scratching needs. Easy to disassemble and move around, this scratcher is also perfect if you're on-the-go or taking your kitten with you for an extended trip.

2This Interactive Wand That Comes With Three Different Options For Play

A versatile feather wand like this — which comes with three adjustable heads, plus a friction-based pole — is really a must-own, and that's because it gives you more options than the standard wand and it comes with a soft foam handle, so it's really easy to grip and hold onto during playtime. Kittens also can especially benefit from this type of play, since they need all the chances to bond with you that they can get.

"Feather wands are a favorite toy for kittens," says Coates. "They let you play with your cat, which will strengthen your mutual bond." To really make the most of this experience, she also recommends making the feathers on the end of the string move along like a bird, since this can really pique a kitten's interest. By holding them still and making them "hop" short distances and then "fly" to safety, you can really keep your kitten's attention too.

3These Sparkling Crinkle Balls That Are Wider Than An Inch

Perfect for exercise or for interaction, these metallic crinkle balls are soft and lightweight and make a noticeable crunch sound when they're batted around. Since each ball in this 12-pack is nearly 2 inches in width, they also are easy for cats to chase around and pounce on and pose. "Shopping for new toys for a kitten is a lot like shopping for a small child," says Michael T. Nappier, DVM, DABVP, of the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. "There are lots of choices and kittens especially love things that make noise or sparkle."

According to Nappier, one reason these toys work so well with kittens is that they mimic the small, fuzzy prey that they'd be learning how to hunt otherwise. Word of caution, though: Since crinkle balls are just made with mylar, they can get chewed up and those pieces may be harmful to pets if swallowed, so be sure you're keeping an eye out during play-time.

4This Wobbling Container That Dispenses Treats

Durable and easy-to-use, this ball dispenser wobbles and releases small treats, and can also be used as a mealtime feeder to delay rapid eating habits, plus it helps reduce the risk of obesity because kittens have to actually work to get the grub. To use it, just twist off the top and add a handful of food, then put the top back on. As an added perk, this wobbling toy also comes with a floppy tail that's filled with catnip, so cats are naturally drawn right toward it. "Sturdy toys, for instance, those that encase a ball that can be batted around a track or those that dispense small bits of food, are excellent options when kittens must be by themselves for a period of time," says Coates.

5This Innovative Lounger That Kittens Can Use Even When You're Not Around

While "generally speaking," says Krinner, "all cat toys should be played with under pet parent supervision, you can limit the danger by using common sense and knowing your cat’s behavior patterns." But this interactive space station toy is actually one that he recommends. Unique and unlike anything else out now, this functions as a lounger and scratch pad, and comes with an elevated bowl so kittens can get a thrill jumping in and out of it. Since it comes with multiple holes in it, kittens have a quick and fun way to get away in case they get pounced on by another pet, and they can plan sneak attacks from inside too. This is also a toy that's great for multi-cat homes because of how spacious it is and how many great play scenarios it supports.

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