If you’re anything like me, you probably have dozens of toys for your cat, 90 percent of which she never touches. But that 10 percent of toys she does touch — they certainly get quite a lot of use, which equals a lot of grime and cat spit. So how exactly do you clean your cat’s toys?
Most fabric toys can be washed either by hand in hot, soapy water or in your washing machine with hot water. The hot water and detergent kills any germs on the toys themselves, and washing them should remove stains. If you’re going to use the washing machine:
I hang the toys to dry rather than putting them in the dryer. Machine drying could cause the toys to shrink or warp, or rope toys could come apart.
Wash plastic toys by hand with dish detergent and hot water to kill any germs. Clean off any stuck-on residue with a sponge or dishcloth, not a scrubber. Scrubbers create tiny scratches that can harbor bacteria, which decreases the life of the toy and could make your cat sick.
Most plastic toys and puzzle feeders are not made to be washed in the dishwasher. Check with the manufacturer to see if the product is dishwasher safe, but most soft plastics will warp in the heat of the dishwasher. Lightweight toys could get thrown around inside the dishwasher and possibly break not just the toy but the dishwasher as well.
Toys made of fur — whether real or artificial — are too fragile for the washing machine. Handwash in hot, soapy water, rinse thoroughly and hang to dry.
Rinse the feather part in hot water and leave the toy to hang dry — out of your cat’s reach, of course.
Most catnip toys are made of fabric. Since your cat does a lot of chewing and sucking on them, you don’t want to run the risk that the catnip will be contaminated with detergent or fabric softener. For these, I recommend a hand rinse and a good wringing out, then hang them to dry. Do not dry catnip toys in the dryer; doing so will cause the catnip to lose its potency.
If your catnip toy is the kind that you can refill with fresh catnip, simply remove the old stuff, rinse the toy in hot water, and, once dry, put in some new herb and watch your cat go to town!
Cats have certain toys that are their favorites. They carry them everywhere, play with them every day and sometimes even sleep with them. This means the favorite toys wear out faster.
I’ve been known to sew up the holes in old favorite toys and let my cats use them until there’s no stuffing left. But I know that’s a little bit over-the-top, so here are signs it’s time to say goodbye to your cat’s most-loved toys.
Thumbnail: Photography ©cunfek | Getty Images.
JaneA Kelley is the author of the award-winning cat advice blog Paws and Effect and a contributing writer at Catster.com. She is a volunteer with Diabetic Cats in Need, a nonprofit that helped save her diabetic cat’s life.
Editor’s note: This article appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Catster magazine delivered straight to you!