by Nomi Berger
Fabric and rope toys: Most can be washed by hand in hot, soapy water or in hot water in your washing machine. While the hot water and detergent kills the germs, washing them should remove the stains. If using your machine, place your cat’s toys in a garment bag to keep them separate from any other items and avoid scented detergents and fabric softeners that may offend kitty’s sensitive nose. Hang the fabric toys up rather than machine dry them because the dryer can cause them to shrink or warp and the rope toys to unravel.
Plastic toys and puzzle games: Wash them by hand with dish detergent and hot water to kill any germs. Remove any sticky residue with a sponge or dishcloth, not a scrubber. Scrubbers create tiny scratches that can harbor bacteria, not only decreasing the life of the toys and games but potentially making your cat ill. Dishwashers aren’t recommended since soft plastics will warp in the heat and lightweight toys can get thrown around inside, possibly breaking both the toy and the dishwasher itself.
Fur toys: Whether real or artificial, fur toys are too fragile for the washing machine. Hand wash them in hot, soapy water, rinse them thoroughly, and hang them up to dry.
Feather toys: Rinse the feather parts in hot water and hang the toys up to dry.
Catnip toys: Most catnip toys are made of fabric, and since cats constantly chew and suck on them, detergent and fabric softeners may contaminate the catnip inside. The safest option is hand rinsing them, wringing them out carefully, then hanging them up to dry. And NEVER put catnip toys in the dryer – the catnip will lose its potency. If, however, your toys are refillable, simply remove the old catnip, rinse the toys themselves in hot water, and put fresh catnip inside once the toys are dry.
Fabric toys and catnip toys: When a toy starts to rip and the stuffing starts to fall out, throw it away. Otherwise, your cat may swallow some of that stuffing which could cause an intestinal blockage, resulting in an expensive emergency visit to the vet. If your cat urinates on a toy or a toy lands in a soiled litter box, toss it out. No amount of washing will eliminate those odors.
Plastic toys: If you notice scratches in any of these toys, toss them out promptly because of the aforementioned issue of bacterial buildup. Similarly, if a toy breaks or small parts have started to come off, chuck it before those parts end up inside your cat’s stomach.
Fur and feather toys: Once the feather breaks or begins to fall apart, throw it out and replace it. Fur toys should be thrown out immediately if they’re either soiled by urine or feces or so tattered that kitty is at risk of swallowing bits and pieces of the torn fur.