Toys for cats are often made of plastic and can contain harmful substances. This can be harmful to cat health and is bad for the environment. An alternative is non-toxic, ecological toys.
Toys are especially important for indoor cats. However, it is often not harmful to health. Because there aren’t any for animal toys so far statutory limit values for potentially harmful substances. In addition, the manufacturers do not have to provide any information on the environmental toxins contained. If the cat is carrying its toy in its mouth or chewing on it, it cannot be ruled out that many products will ingest plasticizers, chromium salts, formaldehyde, and other problematic chemicals. The health consequences of this have not yet been scientifically researched. However, many of the pollutants are considered carcinogenic. Of course, plastic toys contaminated with pollutants are not sustainable or environmentally friendly either.
The alternative is cat toys made of natural materials that are harmless to health, preferably produced regionally. However, the offer in this country is not yet large. A small selection, for example, offers the mail-order company Waschbär with cat play balls (from 7.50 francs) and a play mouse (19.50 francs) made of pure new wool. In neighboring Germany, on the other hand, there are already a few companies that have specialized in ecological animal toys. One of them is kätts, since 2013 a “joint venture between the boss cat Felina and her human
Assistant Kirsten Fischer», which sells cat toys made from natural materials. On the website (www.katts.de) there are lots of useful tips for species-appropriate play.
Make Eco Toys Yourself
“I often get purchase inquiries from Switzerland. Unfortunately, because of the high shipping costs and the complicated customs formalities, I can’t send anything to Switzerland at the moment,” says Fischer. Instead, they refer to service providers who would offer German shipping addresses near the border for Swiss customers. “That’s suboptimal since naturally, not everyone lives near the border, but I haven’t been able to find a better solution so far,” says Fischer. In her experience, interest in ecological toys that are harmless to cats is steadily increasing.
Instead of buying good cat toys, you can also make them yourself at a low cost or bring them with you from your next walk. “In my opinion, the best ecological toys for cats can be made from combed-out cat hair,” recommends Helena Dbalý, who has been dedicated to the sensible occupation of indoor cats for years. “To do this, you rub combed-out cat hair with moistened hands. First, rub it in a circle, then just rub it vigorously back and forth until you get a matted, elongated, mouse-like structure,” explains Dbalý.
The piece should ideally be as long and at least as thick as a human thumb. According to Helena Dbalý, cats love the pleasantly scented toys made from their own hair. If you are enthusiastic about handicrafts and have enough time, you can also spin the combed cat hair and crochet or knit small balls out of the wool.
Hunting Games in the Air and on the Water
The ball can be filled with loose cat hair, straw, or hay. «Of course, such a toy can also be made with fragrant sheep’s wool or brushed dog hair. But cat hair is the most attractive,” says Dbalý, who lives on the outskirts of Basel with her husband, two cats, and a dog. Important: Even with toys made of natural materials, care must be taken that the cat does not eat them.
If small rattles or bells are incorporated, these should be large enough that the cat cannot swallow them. And the toy mouse should not have cute beady eyes or a nose sewn on. In the game, such small parts can detach and be eaten by the cat, which can cause life-threatening complications. The cat doesn’t care about such optical details anyway. It is much more important to her that people now and then pull the toy mouse by the “tail” (e.g. made of leather strap or hemp cord) through the apartment or roll the ball. This is the only way to turn the game into a real hunting pleasure.