Why Is My Cat Scared of Toys? What to Do to Stop It?

As cats become more domesticated and playful, there has been an increase in the number of cats that are scared of toys. Some veterinarians believe this fear is because many toys are made from materials resembling prey, such as feathers and rubber. 

Toys can also be dangerous if they are too large or if they are picked up by a cat without being given time to explore them first. 

As a result of these fears, some cats have difficulty playing with toys and may instead prefer to lounge around waiting for something interesting to happen.

Why Is My Cat Scared of Toys?

Most cats enjoy playing with toys, but some are scared of them. Some cats may be scared of certain types of toys or may be scared of being handled with them. There are a few reasons why your cat might be scared of toys, including:

  • Your cats may be interpreting the toys as potential predators.
  • Your cats may have had negative experiences with toys in the past, and they may be wary of them from then on.
  • Your cats feel overwhelmed by the newness of the toy.
  • Your cats may be afraid that small objects will become projectiles if they’re played with too much.
  • Your cats don’t understand the toy’s function.
  • Your cats are afraid of loud noises associated with playing with toys, such as clanging bells or shaking balls.
  • Your cats may associate playing with toys with being chased or hurt, which could make the toy appear threatening.

If you notice that your cat is always avoiding playing with toys, it might be time to try different types of toy options to see which one works best for him or her.

Interpreting the Toys as Potential Predators

Cats are naturally curious animals and love to explore their surroundings. However, some toys can be a source of fear and anxiety for cats. 

Toys that resemble real predators, such as birds or snakes, could cause a cat to become scared and anxious. 

This happens because cats are natural scavengers and may associate the toy with a predator they have seen before. 

When a cat is scared, it may become defensive and lash out at people or other animals. This can lead to problems in the home, such as aggression or destruction. 

It is important to keep your cat safe by choosing toys it is familiar with and does not fear.

Had Negative Experiences With Toys in the Past

A Scared Cat Because She Had Negative Experiences With Toys in the Past

Some cats have had negative experiences with toys in the past and as a result, they are scared of them. These cats associate the toy with that experience, so they are unwilling to play with them. 

Some examples of negative experiences that make cats afraid of toys include:

  • If you used a toy to punish your cat in the past, they might associate the toy with that event. 
  • A toy may have been associated with a traumatic experience, such as being dropped or stepped on.
  • A traumatic experience when they were younger, such as being hit by toys or thrown from a high place.
  • Saw another cat being hurt using the toy.

Toys can be helpful for cats when used properly. Still, for some cats, their previous experience with toys has been traumatic, and as a result, they are afraid of them. 

Cat owners must understand this fear to provide a safe environment for their feline friends.

Feeling Overwhelmed by the Newness of the Toy

Cats may be scared of toys because they feel overwhelmed by their newness or do not understand the concept of ‘playing.’ 

Cats are experts at using their senses to explore their surroundings, and when presented with a new toy, they may think it is a threat. 

Toys can be great for providing cats with stimulation and exercise. Still, cats may retreat from them if they are not introduced properly and become overwhelmed. 

If your cat seems scared of toys or avoids them when you try to play with them, start by introducing them slowly and work up to bigger, more challenging toys. 

Afraid That Small Objects Will Become Projectiles

Many cats may fear small objects because they associate them with being projectiles. Small toys, like a ball or a feather, can be easily picked up and flung around, potentially causing serious damage if hit by a cat. 

This behavior is usually due to a traumatic experience early in the cat’s life when he was accidentally hit with something small and heavy, such as a toy. 

To avoid this frightening experience, cats may learn to associate small objects with being tossed around and potentially hurt. 

If your cat is displaying this fear of small toys, it might be helpful to provide him with smaller versions of his favorite toys instead of forcing him to play with larger ones.

Cat Doesn’t Understand the Toy’s Function

Many cats do not understand the function of toys and, as a result, may be scared of them. Cats enjoy playing and exploring their surroundings but may be scared of objects they do not understand. 

Toys can help keep cats entertained and can also help to keep them healthy. However, if a cat does not understand the purpose of a toy, it may become scared or hesitant to play with it.

Afraid of Loud Noises Associated With Playing With Toys

Many cats are scared of loud noises associated with playing with toys. The fear is often because cats have sensitive hearing and may be unable to tell the difference between real danger and a toy.

Toys that make loud noises are often associated with fear and can cause cats to be scared or anxious. 

Fear of loud noises is a common trait in many animals and is often seen in dogs as well. 

If your cat is scared of toys that make loud noises, try to find ones without those features or choose softer ones. You can also try engaging your cat in other activities, like playing fetch or scratching posts, to help build its confidence.

Associate Playing With Toys With Being Chased or Hurt

Many cats are scared of toys and associate them with being chased or hurt. This may stem from when they were kittens and first started playing, or it may be a result of the experiences that they have had as adults. 

Toys can provide excitement, but some cats may see them as a source of danger. 

The Effect of Fear

When a cat is scared of toys, the effects can vary depending on the cat and what kind of toy is making it scared, including:

  • Your cat may start avoiding toy play altogether.
  • Your cat may start using toys less, preferring to play with you instead.
  • Your cat may become more aggressive when playing with toys, biting or scratching you more than usual.
  • Toy destruction can occur. Your cat may tear apart the toy or even swallow it whole.
  • Your kitty might also develop separation anxiety if they cannot play with their toys as much as they used to. If this happens, try providing them with a few new toys daily to keep them entertained and busy.

Sometimes, a cat scared of toys may need professional help to overcome their fear.

How to Stop Your Cat From Being Afraid of Toys

When your cat is afraid of toys, getting them to play with them can be difficult. Here are a few tips to help you out:

  1. Start by providing plenty of toys for them to play with, preferably ones they enjoy.
  2. Playing with your cats in familiar surroundings, such as near their food or water dish. This will help build trust between you and your cat. You can also try playing with the toy yourself before giving it to your cat so they get used to the idea that it will not hurt them.
  3. If your cat is still refusing to play with toys, try using treats or positive reinforcement (i.e., petting and praising them when they interact with the toy).
  4. If these methods don’t work, consider changing the toy a bit- for example, if they’re scared of balls, try using small plush animals instead.
  5. Finally, if all else fails, consult a veterinarian. They may be able to prescribe medications or other therapies that can help ease your cat’s fear of toys.

Tips for Introducing New Toys Safely

You can do a few things to make sure your cat enjoys playing with new toys without getting hurt. Many cats are naturally curious and playful, but some may be more cautious with new objects. Here are some tips you can follow:

  1. Start by testing the toy out before giving it to your cat. This will help ensure that the toy is safe and won’t cause any harm.
  2. Try to choose small and lightweight toys, so they’re easy for your cat to play with. Avoid toys with dangerous edges or strings that could be dangerous if ingested or caught in the fur.
  3. Introducing the toy slowly and ensure your cat gets a good look at it before bringing it close or putting it in their mouth.
  4. If your cat seems interested in the toy, give her a few minutes to explore it before starting to play with her. This will help ensure she isn’t scared of the new toy and enjoys playing with it!
  5. If your cat takes the toy from you right away, they might not be interested. Try again later when they’re more relaxed. If your cat does not seem interested in the toy, do not force them to try it. There is always the chance they will eventually take an interest in the toy if given enough time.


If your cat is scared of toys, it may be because they perceive them as potential predators and have had negative experiences with toys in the past. 

Toys only serve one purpose: to provide amusement and fun for cats. When played with in the right way, toys can help to engage a cat’s senses and promote playfulness. 

For cats who have had negative experiences with toys, it is important to investigate why this occurred and to try different types of toys until a positive relationship is established. 

By understanding why cats are scared of toys, we can help them overcome their fear and have more fun playing.

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