Kitty wantz to rite?
August 11, 2008 6:23 PM   Subscribe

My kitty loves playing with pencils. Problem is, he ends up eating them too, and that can't be good.

I just took a pencil away from him, and he gave me the sad face and is now bouncing aimlessly around the apartment, meowing, on the hunt for more loose pencils. What pencil like toy can I give him that won't hurt him? I think he likes the way it flips and rolls. He doesn't like normal cat toys, but gets all PENCIL! You're going DOWN! whenever he gets his little white paws on one.
posted by sweetkid to Pets & Animals (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A pen... (with cap on)

I can winz thred now?
posted by GleepGlop at 6:34 PM on August 11, 2008

Try a straw. It's a little lighter, but my cat goes crazy over them.
posted by imbri at 6:37 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: He'll take the cap off the pen, and I think he will eat a straw?
posted by sweetkid at 6:40 PM on August 11, 2008

posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:41 PM on August 11, 2008

I'll find puncture marks in the straw, but it's never gone beyond that. I think it's probably a bit more difficult to eat than the soft and solid wood. The straw just gives -- which might frustrate and bore him if he's a looking for something a bit chewier.
posted by imbri at 6:42 PM on August 11, 2008

toilet paper/paper towel tubes
Fiasco's idea for chopsticks sounds great, think my kitty might like that as well.
posted by idiotfactory at 6:46 PM on August 11, 2008

I promise you, a ballpoint pen won't hurt a cat even if it does manage to get the cap off, and you can get ones that twist out, etc. You may be a little overprotective of your little furball. By eating the pencil you mean it is leaving bite marks in it? That is harmless. Eating a little tip of graphite also probably harmless. Just give it one with the tip already broken off. And no eraser neither.
posted by GleepGlop at 6:46 PM on August 11, 2008

Which part of the pencil most attracts him? Does he chew the eraser, or the metal part? Maybe he likes the particular weight of the overall pencil?
posted by amtho at 6:55 PM on August 11, 2008

My pencil-loving cat also loves mechanical pencils--and you can take that down to just the plastic shell (remove the lead, eraser, any easily breakable-off bits).
posted by divka at 7:11 PM on August 11, 2008

I found this material safety data sheet on graphite. It's carbon so I can't imagine it's toxic to any substantial degree. I guess I'd be more concerned about what's in the wood... there's probably a world of difference in the composition of a Staedtler or Skilcraft pencil and those cheap-ass Fairmount pencils with wood-like chemicals (god I hated those in school... they'd never sharpen right).
posted by crapmatic at 7:11 PM on August 11, 2008

Response by poster: He eats chopsticks too. I am mostly worried about the sharp pieces that stick out when he chews on them, I think they'll hurt his mouth. I've seen him trotting around with nails in his mouth too, so he may have some kind of deathwish...
posted by sweetkid at 7:15 PM on August 11, 2008

Response by poster: Oh by eating it I mean really eating it. Like it will be half size, with half inside him.
posted by sweetkid at 7:16 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

On many pens you can remove the ink cartridge and just leave him the tube to play with.
posted by availablelight at 7:22 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Maybe test him with a regular straw and see if he likes it. If he does, you can get recycled paper ones. The paper towel and loo roll cardboard holders sound like a great idea to try.

He'd probably go batshit insane for those corrugated plastic tubes that make wooooooooo noises when you tilt them....
posted by DarlingBri at 7:41 PM on August 11, 2008

Have you tried commercially-available string-on-a-stick toys? Some cats ignore the string/toy part and just drag around the sticks. They can also enjoy chasing the end (either end) of the stick if you wave that around.
posted by amtho at 8:00 PM on August 11, 2008

Clarification: I mention those because the sticks are solid plastic. Not my favorite, but maybe better than splinters.
posted by amtho at 8:01 PM on August 11, 2008

Avoid plastic things - they can get stuck in the GI tract. And they don't show up on x-rays.

Paper is best, since it's easily digestible. Wood is somewhat digestible but can splinter, as you've noticed with the chopsticks. String is right out (for unattended play).

If you're supervising his play, then the pencils should be fine. Just take the toys away when you're both done playing. At least if you're watching you'll know exactly what happened, if something goes wrong. For unattended play, try soft toys stuffed with catnip.

You wouldn't believe what kind of things have been retrieved from the stomach or intestines of cats and dogs - panties (usually not the wife's), peach pits, pacifiers, popsicle sticks, gorilla glue (terribly painful since it expands and becomes rigid), the list goes on.
posted by ebellicosa at 8:04 PM on August 11, 2008

Can you soak the pencils in a water and cayenne pepper mixture? I spray a solution of this on my plants (cat loves to eat them, but prefers cayenne-free foilage...sadly, I suspect the plants prefer the cat over the cayenne. Pencils have no preference, I'm sure).
posted by iamkimiam at 10:02 PM on August 11, 2008

Maybe a dowel rod with a slightly larger diameter? 1/2 inch or so... Not so easy to bite through, no point and no paint or eraser either.
posted by Jeff Howard at 10:19 PM on August 11, 2008

I have seen 'bones' for cats, and also little cat chewsticks. They're less popular, as cats don't usually play with toys like this, but they are around. They're also safe to eat. Check at the local petstores.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:35 PM on August 11, 2008

Someone with more cat knowledge than me can answer this, but if he's delighting in eating it too (and is an indoor cat), is it possible he's looking for a some grass/cellulose/whatever to aid his digestion?

The graphite should be fine (hell, we use charcoal to soak up toxins in humans who ingest nasty stuff) but the treatments of the pencil, or the paint on it would worry me. Sounds like kitty needs more expensive pencils. :)

Personally I'd not worry about splinters too much, but that's because my two eat all sorts of crap including all sorts of small animal splintery bones...

Quick thought - if he likes the way the pencil bounces, how about a D&D type die? Something like a d10 (if such a thing exists) that has suitably large internal angles. I'm sure someone must make them in wood or metal...
posted by twine42 at 3:06 AM on August 12, 2008

Summut like these d20 efforts.
posted by twine42 at 3:31 AM on August 12, 2008

Would there be any harm in getting one of those dentabones/chewable bone things made for dogs and giving that to the cat? That is probably what I would do, as if it is okay for a dog it is probably fine for a cat, though I'm not a vet....
posted by gwenlister at 5:40 AM on August 12, 2008

My cats love pipe cleaners.
posted by loiseau at 6:55 AM on August 12, 2008

What about getting him some little kids' pencils for his very own. I imagine they're about as edible as pencils get? Funnily enough I use some kids pencils (Crayola - the colours are nice and waxy and smear/blend better than expensive pencils, but anyway) Loopy LOVES knocking my pencils over, pouncing on them, rolling in them and chewing on them!! The paint gets dings but doesn't flake off or anything.
As they get shorter, they start to get awkward (for me!), so I began getting pieces of card and wrapping and taping them down into super tight cylinders, like a pencil extension basically.

And he REALLY LOVES chomping on those. Plus they're awesome for the health of his teeth. He also likes Mc D straws, but not as much as getting into my pencils. I think he likes the noise them make when he sends them skittering.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 7:20 AM on August 12, 2008

My cat is a pencil freak and also an eater of various objects. Her new favorite toy is a catnip stick that I got at Target. It's not nearly as thin as a pencil, but it's a long, linear object that she can toss around and pick up easily with her mouth and forepaws. They are about six inches long and a man's finger-width wide. They are made out of cloth and stuffed with catnip.

They come in a little plastic cylinder and there are about five sticks in a pack. Right now they are blue, yellow and red striped, like a barber pole. During the Christmas season they sell the ones that look like peppermint sticks.
posted by bristolcat at 8:32 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

My youngest ADORES (unused! Thank God!) tampons - if you just give them the tube there will be less cotton fluff everywhere, but the tube itself rolls around in a most satisfactory fashion, apparently.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:07 AM on August 12, 2008

Right now they are blue, yellow and red striped, like a barber pole. During the Christmas season they sell the ones that look like peppermint sticks

2nd'ing bristolcat ... my cats got a pack of these for christmas a couple of years ago, and I still find them all over my house. I should probably wash them or destroy them (the sticks, not the cats), but I don't want to risk their joy (the cat's, not the stick's).

It is a bit disconcerting to feel a gooey drooley fabric stick in my bed, though.
posted by CurlyMan at 1:28 PM on August 13, 2008

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