Cats have a natural playfulness that’s simply irresistible to encourage. And if we don’t give them toys to play with, many cats will grow bored and restless. Some might even find their own fun and leave you a mess of torn-up toilet paper on the bathroom floor. Unfortunately, we have to be very careful about the toys we allow our beloved fur babies to play with.

Some toys that appeal to cats the most will also be a health risk for them. Consider ribbon, yarn and string. Although they’re a classic kitty play toy, and they often make for a perfectly idyllic scene to watch, they do pose some problems. If it’s long enough, a cat could roll around and get caught in a ribbon or yarn, which might strangle them. But the most common warning against ribbon and yarn is if a cat ingests it, it can cause blockage in the intestine. And small balls and other objects are always a choking hazard.  The fact that you get a cat toy from a pet store is no guarantee that it’s safe for kitty, either. Fake mice, for instance, can come with small plastic eyes that a cat might be able to remove and swallow. Remove the eyes, feathers or other things your cat could swallow before letting it play with the toy.

Playtime is important and Here are some suggestions for safe toys.

Playtime seems to be extremely important to keep a cat both physically and psychologically healthy. Cats are carnivores, and in the wild that means they have to be predators. It’s simply in their genetic makeup. You know that very well if your cat has ever brought you back a “present” of a dead bird or rodent. Playing is an energy outlet for a cat with excess predatory instincts. And it encourages exercise, which is important for overweight cats.

You can get safe cat toys from a pet store, like balls with or without bells inside (just make sure the toys are too big to become a choking hazard). Some cats really appreciate sisal-wrapped stands, too. Other cats like softer toys that they can dig their claws into. Cats seem to love “pole toys” that include a fake bird or mouse at the end of a string. You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a cat to have plenty of fun toys. Many cats are happy playing with shower curtain rings, either individually or connected. And ping pong balls or plastic golf balls are fun for cats to swat and chase.

You can find many safe catnip toys, too. Although some seem to be immune to it, catnip can be irresistible for many cats. Even though it can stimulate a sense of euphoria in cats, making some slightly sedated and others hyperactive, experts say it’s safe and isn’t addictive for cats.