If you haven't heard about them yet, you'll soon be hearing quite a bit about wool cat toys. They are rapidly gaining in popularity, and it makes a lot of sense: most wool toys are eco-friendly, ethically made, and extra appealing to our feline friends. Today, we'll talk about what wool cat toys are and why cats love them. We'll also look over some of the best on the market.
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What Are Wool Cat Toys?
The majority of wool cat toys are simply high-quality wool that is felted into fun shapes. Often times, they are dyed in bright colors to be more aesthetically appealing to human users, usually with vegetable or other pet-safe dyes. Sometimes these felted playthings are made into simple shapes – the circular ball toy being the most popular – while at other times they are molded into animals, bugs, or food-shaped items, often with a thin wire or plastic ball to help the toy keep its shape. From time to time you might also see felted toys that are sewn together and contain other cat-enticing accouterments, like catnip, silver vine, or bells. Though less common, wool playthings are also sometimes attached to the ends of other toys, for instance, a felted ball dangling off the end of a teaser wand.
Why Do Cats Love Wool Cat Toys?
There is actually quite a bit of debate on this matter, and no clear and absolute answer. One of the main arguments is that wool contains lanolin. Lanolin – which is also referred to as wool grease – is a wax that is secreted by sheep, as well as other wool-bearing creatures. In nature, it protects the animal's skin and wool from harsh elements, amongst other things. So what does lanolin have to do with felines? Well, that useful wax also has a fairly strong scent. Now this is where the theory branches off a bit. One party states that the robust odor of lanolin reminds kitties of the scent of their mothers. Others, however, feel that it simply taps into their natural instincts by smelling strongly of delicious, delicious animals.
The other side of the debate states that it's simply a matter of texture. Unlike smooth or plastic gadgets, wool toys are easy to grab, and sink their claws and teeth into. Additionally, they have a more “realistic” feel to them, which might also account for our cat's woolly passions.
In the end, it doesn't really matter why cats love wool toys. All that's important is that your cat will likely spend hours chasing, kicking, biting – downright harassing – his fuzzy little plaything. Oh, and a nice side effect? It will take him a good deal longer to lose interest. So that is always a plus!
Are There Any Downsides to Wool Cat Toys?
Although most wool cat toys are produced with safety in mind, some kitties may not do well with them. If your feline tends to lick, suck, or chew on fabrics, these playthings may not be right for him. A third theory regarding why cats like wool toys has to do with something called pica. Simply put, pica is an unusual eating disorder that involves consuming non-food items. This is sometimes due to boredom or stress, but in cats, it's most often associated with early weaning. If theory number one is correct – that lanolin smells like mom – and your cat suffers from pica, then wool toys will likely not be the best option for him.
Are Wool Cat Toys Hard To Take Care Of?
Because wool toys are environmentally-friendly, some people assume that they're not as tough as their synthetic counterparts. While these fun little contraptions can sometimes lose their shape, they are easy to reshape, clean, and generally care for. If shape loss is an issue, you can simply squeeze the toy back into its original shape, throw it in a laundry bag or old sock, and give it a run through the washer and dryer. Just be sure not to use scented soap or fabric softeners, as the strong smell of your detergent may deter your furry little pal.
Good quality wool tends to be hard to rip apart, but if your felted toy is sewn together, ripping might occur near the seams. This should also be easy to fix with just a few simple stitches.
Wool Cat Toy Recommendations
Now for the fun part! There is a large variety of options available, so we'll break it down into a few categories: stand-alone toys, attached toys, and beds.
Stand Alone Wool Cat Toys
Wool cat balls are great – they're simple, they're efficient, and they're bright enough to find when they get lost under the couch. But balls can be kind of dull. This particular plaything takes the basic spherical design, and adds an exciting extra touch. In addition to the play-inspiring scent of wool, this ball also boasts a slot for inserting small catnip capsules, thus making it all the more appealing. These balls are made of 100% wool, and are colored with non-toxic dyes.
Teaser toys can be a real joy for many cats, but a teaser made entirely of wool? Now that's something else altogether. This toy is meant to be dangled and shifted around much like a regular teaser-style plaything; however, it does differ a bit in that it is made up almost entirely of soft parts – that is, no hard plastic handle. The beauty of this design is that it can be both a teaser for your hunters, and a fetch toy for your chasers. One of the neatest things about this toy, though, is that it is not only eco-friendly, but also helps support disadvantaged female farmers and artisans – so you and your kitty are helping to make the world a better place.
Like the teaser toy, this particular plaything is handmade by women artisans, is eco-friendly, and made of pet safe materials. One of the interesting things about this set is that it takes the traditional mouse and ball toys and gives them a neat, earthy twist. Each toy is hand felted, solidly built, and decently-sized – the balls being a little over 1.5 inches around and the mice being roughly the size of the real deal. Furthermore, because each toy is made by hand, they will all be unique.
Attached Wool Cat Toys
So why should you try a wool teaser toy when you have a million of the traditional sorts lying around? Because the wool version is much more likely to catch your kitty's eye. Or, rather, nose. As with all wool playthings, this 100% wool ball has that all-too-alluring scent. When you combine that with the flitting, flicking, and high-flying movement of a wand toy, you have yourself a winning combination.
All right, so... yet another teaser. I know, I know. But here's the deal, for one thing, they are made to be attached to popular wands – so if you have a few naked string or wire swivel poles sitting around your house, these will be perfect. And two, they're made up of all sorts of exciting things. Although they're not built entirely of wool, like most of the other toys in this list, they have enough to be enticing to your feline, plus they boast other equally entertaining things, like feathers.
Now we're onto something entirely different. This automatic cat toy ball has a bunch of really neat features and a wool attachment, making it an excellent choice for earth-loving technophiles. This funky little gadget shimmies, shakes, and whips its “hair” around, all while never falling over – due namely to its spinning tumbler-style body. So where does the wool come in? Why, in its hairdo, of course. This toy comes with two interchangeable hairpieces: yarn pom-poms, and wool balls.
Wool Cat Beds
So I know what you're thinking... in a list of wool cat toys, why are you including beds? Good question, but the answer is simple. Beds are never just sleeping places for cats – they're also fortresses, hidey-holes, and secret ninja attack zones. This particular cat bed ticks off all of those boxes as it's built to be both a padded mat, and a super-secret cave. It's made up of 100% Merino wool, and is totally free of anything synthetic or harsh.
Like the bed above, this cave is both a cozy cat bed and super exciting play cave. It is made up of fine quality, all natural wool from New Zealand, and is built using a boiling technique that utilizes nothing but water and soap – so, no nasty chemicals or weird synthetics. It can be either puffed up and used as a proper cave, or tamped down into a sort of bowl shape for a nice, comfy play mat.
Who doesn't love a good window perch? I mean, your kitty gets to enjoy the outdoors while still remaining safe. There are a ton of excellent perches on the market, but what makes this one special is that – you guessed it – it has a Merino wool bed! The perch itself is made up of sturdy metal cables, PVC pipes, and strong suction cups. The wool cover is handmade in Nepal, and is designed to be used either on the perch itself, or taken down and utilized as a standalone blanket. So it's not only fun, it's also incredibly cuddly!
Although wool cat toys aren't as ubiquitous as their synthetic counterparts, they are rapidly becoming more popular. And why not? These things are every bit as fun as other toys, but are also pretty earth-friendly, usually handcrafted, and are made with your kitty's natural instincts in mind.
Have you and your feline friend tried out wool toys yet? If so, let us know how it went!