Call me overprotective. Accuse me of being paranoid. I'm posting this anyway. It seems like a very large percentage of cat products -- from furniture to toys to training aids to kitty litter -- are made without thinking about the health or welfare of the animals they're intended for.
You may recall that we just tossed out of our first kitty condo (after only 3 weeks) because the boys kept pulling out pieces of carpet with glue on them and chewing them. They also risked injury from exposed staples and strips of fiber and plastic string that were just coming off the seams.
Just this evening, Liz and I visited a local Petco to look for a replacement kitty condo. We looked at the various models on the floor, sticking our hands into the little hideaways and feeling around for staples, loose threads, and splinters. We managed to find something dangerous about each and every one. Some had loose pieces of carpet hanging off. Others had splinters of wood coming out. Still others were unstable and looked like they would fall over the first time the boys wrestle on them.
But it's not just kitty condos we have to worry about. After giving up on the idea of buying a kitty condo, we perused the cat toy aisle. Most of the toys had small parts that looked like they could fall off so easily. We saw lots of toy mice with ears and eyes there were lightly glued on. We nearly bought a sissal mouse until we noticed that the manufacturer had spilled glue on top of it. And mind you, this is a mouse that is meant to be chewed.
It doesn't stop with fragile toys and dangerous kitty condos either. In previous posts, I have detailed the dangers of clumping clay litter, the risk of vaccine-induced sarcomas, and the toxic chemicals contained in certain "harmless" training aids.
Clearly, most cats manage to survive and stay healthy despite these risks. But these are unnecessary risks, brought on by irresponsible manufacturers who are more interested in making products that are attractive to humans than ones which are safe for cats. If a crib had staples in it where a toddler could swallow them, it would be recalled in an instant. If a child's teething ring was covered in toxic glue, there would be lawsuits until the end of time.
Here's a unique business idea: how about a pet store that sells only products which are truly safe and truly harmless, even for kittens. How about selling only toys that are clean and impossible to destroy? How about selling only cat furniture that is stable, has no sharp edges, and doesn't shed any little parts or fibers? How about treating cats as living creatures, not as objects that can be replaced when the next unsafe product kills them?
Cat owners have a part to play too. We need to demand better at the pet store and even at the vet. Caring for cats isn't on the same level of difficulty as raising a child, but it is a sacred responsibility, one made more difficult by all these dangerous products.