When it comes to our pets, we love to spoil them. New bags or cans of food, despite the old ones still sitting in the cupboard (and if they don’t approve of it, does it even deserve to be sold?), colourful accessories, and of course – toys. However, there is a lot more depth to toys than simply choosing a grey mouse with a pink tail from the closest pet store. They need to be properly cleaned, thrown out when needed, and changed (or as professionals call it – rotated) regularly.
Let’s first talk about rotating your cat’s toys – what is it and why is it important
While cleaning your house, you’ve probably discovered your cat’s secret collection of toys at least once. They are most likely dusty, dirty, and not safe to play with.
Even though cats are smart creatures, they can only be focused on and interested in a limited number of toys at a time. Toy rotation means changing your cat’s toys about once a week. This however does not indicate purchasing new toys every week. From an already existing collection of toys, choose four to five, and put others away. Next week, hide the toys from the previous week, and bring out the previously hidden toys. Rinse and repeat. The truth is, you don’t need hundreds of toys to keep your cat entertained.
Toys can lose their initial appeal. If certain toys are no longer of interest, whether it’s because your cat is no longer a lively, full of energy kitten, or certain health issues are preventing them from enjoying a toy that requires a lot of mobility, you may need to experiment with different types of new toys, or re-evaluate your way of playing with your cat to accommodate their needs.
You also don’t have to keep purchasing new toys. There are a lot of DIY tutorials on how to make interesting toys out of everyday objects, such as socks or carton boxes. Make sure your homemade toy is durable and safe for your cat to play with (ensure it’s not made out of toxic materials, and check for any sharp or easily breakable edges).
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to how to take care of the toys
You’ve carefully watched your household tiger, made notes on which toys they enjoyed playing with, and chose new toys specifically for your cat’s needs. Now what?
Check your toys regularly and discard those which are damaged, ripped open, extremely dirty or have any sharp edges. Small pieces could be a choking hazard, while sharp elements could hurt your cat. When should you throw them out?
Fabric toys should be thrown out when the toy begins to rip, and the stuffing can be found on your floor. Likewise, if the toy gets urine or other bodily wastes on them, or if it ends up in an unclean litter box.
Plastic toys should be thrown out if you see scratches (tiny scratches can harbour bacteria, which can make your cat sick), if the toy breaks, or if small pieces have started to come off (they can end up in your cat’s stomach).
Feather toys should be thrown out once the feather part starts falling apart.
If you are concerned about the safety of your cat’s toys or want to find more suitable ones, speak to your vet for advice. They can provide further recommendations and help you make smart, responsible decisions. How to wash your cat’s toys:
Most catnip toys are made out of fabric. Since cats chew on them, a hand rinse without detergent, soap or fabric softener is recommended. Hang them to dry in a sunny place, out of your cat’s reach.
You can add longevity to your cat’s catnip toy by purchasing a re-fillable version. Empty out the catnip, and wash the toy according to the label. After the fabric is dry, re-fill it with fresh catnip.
Feather and fur toys
Gently wash the wooden/plastic part of the toy with a pet-safe soap and hot water to kill any germs. Rinse the feather or fur part in hot water. Leave the toy to dry, again, out of your cat’s reach.
Similar to feather toys, wash them with a pet-safe soap under hot water. Make sure you clean every little crevice. Leave them to dry on a clean towel or cloth.
These are usually the easiest to wash. You can either wash them by hand in hot, soapy water or in a washing machine. If you decide to use the washing machine, avoid using scented detergents and fabric softener, as they can be dangerous and off-putting to cats. Washing should remove any stains and kill germs. Hang the toys to dry.
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