Friskies® Pull ‘N Play: Cat Toy and Treat Design Fail

Friskie-Pull-N-Play

I get multiple requests to review toys and treats almost every day. The majority of these requests are for clever, innovative and fun designs, and I share the ones that I think you’d be most interested in on this site. Every once in a while, I get a request to review a toy that just doesn’t look good to me, so I politely decline, and that’s the end of that. Reviews, by their very nature, are always in part opinion: just because I don’t like something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a good product.

For that reason, I don’t usually cover products I don’t like. However, I’m making an exception for Friskies®’ new Pull ‘N Play toy – for the simple reason that in the more than six years I’ve been publishing The Conscious Cat, I have not seen a more ill-conceived cat toy and treat design.

When I first received the pitch to promote this toy, I let the PR agency know in no uncertain terms that this toy is quite possibly the worst idea for a cat product I’ve seen in a long time. Then it fell off my radar, until a Conscious Cat reader brought it to my attention again last week. I decided that I needed to write about this product after all.

Let me be clear: even though Friskies® is not a brand I recommend, I’m not posting this to  malign the company. I respect and support what Friskies® and its parent company, Nestle Purina Pet Care, are doing to promote the bond between cat and humans. The company’s charitable giving arm has done amazing things to improve cats’ lives, and I applaud them for this. I truly  believe that this company cares about cats. Perhaps that’s why I was even more stunned by the utter design failure of this new product.

What is Pull ‘N Play?

Pull ‘N Play is a wobbly cat toy named Wobbert that can accommodate two treats at once: the new Pull ‘n Play strings which fit into the toy’s ears, and regular treats that can be put into the toy’s belly. As per Friskies®’ PR pitch, the treats are the “first and only tender, edible strings for cats on the market.”

Who on earth thought it was a good idea to create a treat that would make cats think that eating string is okay?

The treats themselves are not dangerous (although the ingredients leave a lot to be desired….), but I believe that allowing cats to play with these string toys is only going to entice them to play with anything else that looks like a string.

friskies-pull-n-play

Ingesting string can be life-threatening

Ingesting real string can be deadly for cats. Even though some pieces of string may pass through the intestines without doing any harm, it’s more likely that pieces of string can get wrapped around the cat’s intestines, cutting off blood flow or cutting through the intestines. Emergency surgery may save the cat’s life, but if the intestines have already become perforated by the string, fecal matter may have already contaminated the abdominal cavity, which can lead to a deadly systemic infection.

I find it hard to believe that this toy made it to market. I would imagine that at least some of the many veterinarians employed by Friskies® and its parent company, Nestle Purina Pet Care, must have voiced their concern about this product.

Ask Friskies® to take this toy off the market

If someone at Friskies® is reading this: I urge you to take this toy and the treats off the market. If you’d like to add your voice to my call to remove this unsafe product, please contact Friskies® through their website.

New Dr. Goodpet banner

 

 

40 Comments on Friskies® Pull ‘N Play: Cat Toy and Treat Design Fail

  1. Jim
    September 4, 2017 at 10:34 pm (1 month ago)

    My cat is smart enough to know the difference between food and string. I ought to be able to buy it if I want. My cat loves it!!

    Reply
  2. Mason Hutchison
    August 12, 2016 at 3:08 pm (1 year ago)

    Here’s a novel idea – IF you are a cat owner and IF you love your cat enough to research how to properly raise a cat, then the simple moral of this story is to not leave string (or other harmful items) laying around your house where your cat can get to it – REGARDLESS of this treat dispenser. Cats are like children. If you would baby proof your home, you should kitty proof it as well. I have owned 12 cats in my lifetime, the youngest one passing at 17 1/2 years old. NEVER ONCE have I had an issue with strings (or anything else!) and this treat dispenser happens to be my cat’s all time favorite!!!! I hope Friskies never discontinues this item…or they might as well discontinue Pokemon gummies, mickey mouse chicken nuggets, teddy grahams and smiley face mashed potatoes and anything else that a child eats that MAY look like a toy. UhOh! Otherwise, you may find your child eating their video games or worse, their little brother or sister when they put on their Halloween costumes this year…just saying! Get a grip, people!

    This comment has been edited by the site owner.

    Reply
  3. John mclain
    March 24, 2016 at 12:17 pm (2 years ago)

    “it’s more likely that pieces of string can get wrapped around the cat’s intestines”

    So the sting phases through my cats intestines and ties them up? The string would not leave the inside of his intestines.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 24, 2016 at 2:58 pm (2 years ago)

      An intestinal blockage is a life-threatening emergency.

      Reply
  4. Cassidy
    December 15, 2015 at 1:01 am (2 years ago)

    Wow! I hadn’t even thought of the string incident! To be fair, I just got a cat for the first time 2 weeks ago. She’s 3 years old, perhaps I’ll keep it for the treat dispenser, sans edible flavored string.

    Reply
  5. Diane
    September 8, 2015 at 10:06 am (2 years ago)

    I got my cats the pull n play . The string has made them sick on 2 occasions. The artificial color has stained my carpet where they regurgitated. So I definitely would not recommend this toy string treat !

    Reply
  6. Ingrid Ivins
    August 31, 2015 at 11:08 am (2 years ago)

    When I first saw the advertisements for this toy, the fact that it looked like string actually attracted me to it, because my toy-finicky cats love “real” string but they are not very interested in other toys, nor catnip. I didn’t think about the potential to encourage cats to go after real string, but for us the point is moot because none of the cats even liked the string treat. However I do find it to be useful to examine the toy and string issue from all perspectives.

    Reply
  7. Angie
    August 29, 2015 at 5:51 am (2 years ago)

    what an irresponsible and I’ll-conceived product. Like designing a children’s toy with edible screws. Sent a message to them. Hope this product gets pulled from shelves.

    Reply
  8. Debi
    August 27, 2015 at 1:12 am (2 years ago)

    I would never take a chance with a toy like this. I also think it irresponsible to sell such a “toy”. Unfortunately Nestle has been known for other irresponsible business practices in the past. I think they are still selling infant formula to third world mothers who would be better off breast feeding.

    Reply
  9. Kelly
    August 26, 2015 at 10:48 am (2 years ago)

    When I was a young girl, we had a tiny kitten who got hold of a piece of thread that, unfortunately, was threaded with a needle. Suffice it to say things did not turn out well. I cannot fathom giving either of my girls a toy that might even slightly encourage them to swallow string. It boggles my mind that this toy made it onto store shelves.

    Reply
  10. monica ackerman
    August 26, 2015 at 12:43 am (2 years ago)

    Hi everyone – yes, there are two sides to every story and they have been expressed here eloquently. My own opinion when I first picked it up at Target was the same as most of yours, why encourage a cat to eat string? That’s what surprised me most, that the design went right past their experts and proceeded to manufacture. I put the thing down again and shuddered. The price was only $2.99

    Reply
  11. Jackie Younce
    August 25, 2015 at 7:31 pm (2 years ago)

    I have this toy for my cats too. One of them gets so excited about anything that smells like food. He gobbled the strng down in seconds and I was worried for days. I broke the rest is the sttings in pieces and gave them the treats that way. My other cats hated the strings.

    I also found that it’s really hard to get the treats out of the toy for the cats.

    Mine do love the Temptations Snacky Mouse though! It’s easy to smack around and get the treats but not too easy lol

    Reply
  12. Wendy
    August 25, 2015 at 6:25 pm (2 years ago)

    I am surprised by this post. I have never met a cat that did not like string. I guess I don’t understand why you think this toy would entice a cat to eat string…every cat (ok, well, most of them) would eat string given the opportunity. So, give them a string that is safe to eat, I think it is a cute idea.

    I will not buy one for my cats but not because it looks too much like string.

    Now, I can see if you think the Frisky’s toy would give HUMANS the idea that “other strings would make a good cat toy too” that would be a disappointing result.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 26, 2015 at 6:38 am (2 years ago)

      You mention yet another issue with this toy, Wendy: it’s entirely possible that this toy sends the wrong message to humans who don’t know better about the dangers of string for cats.

      Reply
  13. Angela
    August 25, 2015 at 5:57 pm (2 years ago)

    You make a good point. I hadn’t thought about the string-alike issue. However, the cats LOVE the toy. They don’t get to play with it often, because I supervise them, but I’ll watch to see if I notice any string issues.

    Reply
  14. Annette Albanese
    August 25, 2015 at 2:27 pm (2 years ago)

    I own this product and I have three adult cats. I think your review of this product is not an educated review, regarding how cats will react to this product. Yes, one of the treats is a flavored…FLAVORED string for the cats to pull off and eat or chew off the toy and eat it. FLAVORED is the operative word here…my cats LOVE this treat toy! They know the difference between regular string, without a flavor and the cat toy that has a flavored string that they can have fun with and eat. I am wondering if you tested this toy out with your cat and then saw your cat eat an ordinary string because of this product? For my cats, this does not happen at all! They have other string-type toys that they play with and do not eat because they know that string toy is not food. Maybe some cats will eat anything but my cats are smart enough to know what is edible and what is not. They smell the item first, if it smells like food and is appetizing to them, then they will proceed and enjoy it.

    Reply
    • Lily
      December 26, 2016 at 6:00 pm (10 months ago)

      Exactly. Cats have a keen sense of smell and can tell the difference between string and a treat. My cat has not figured out how to get the treats out, but loves the string. Plus, if you don’t like the string just DON’T USE IT. It’s as simple as that.

      Reply
  15. Lola The Rescued Cat
    August 25, 2015 at 2:19 pm (2 years ago)

    You make an excellent point, Ingrid. Lola is OBSESSED with string and I have to be very careful with all strings in my house. I don’t want her playing with any string, even if it’s edible.

    Reply
  16. Ellen Pilch
    August 25, 2015 at 1:44 pm (2 years ago)

    That is a very good point. We have one which I bought because Millie loves to go after shoelaces. It didn’t occur to me that he would think that was OK. I guess I was lucky because he doesn’t care for the taste, but I agree now that it is a bad idea for a product.

    Reply
  17. Laura & 7 cats
    August 25, 2015 at 12:39 pm (2 years ago)

    Thank you SO much for covering this toy. When I first saw it, I had the same thought. What on earth made them think this was a good idea?! I hope Purina pulls the toy, but seriously it’s the worst thought out toy I’ve ever seen

    Reply
  18. Glogirly
    August 25, 2015 at 11:10 am (2 years ago)

    Ingrid, I applaud you for this review. I also will politely decline requests to write about products I just can’t feel good about. And though I’ve never been approached about this product, I made my feelings known through their social media accounts when it first came on the market.

    I was shocked and saddened that my comments were responded to with nothing but a ‘thanks for letting us know’ from the brand. But I was even more saddened that so many other consumers blasted me, telling me I was completely wrong, it’s “just a toy,” or “It’s NOT string!”

    As you know, one of my cats ingested a small piece of skinny ribbon years ago. Emergency surgery on a Sunday night to the tune of $2500 and an absolutely terrifying experience for me AND my cat. She had such a hard time recovering from the surgery… I nearly lost her. To this day, every vet visit is terribly stressful and taxing on her. Cats don’t forget.

    When I told my story on their FB page and cautioned that with even the best intentions, accidents can happen, a few people had the audacity to tell me I didn’t deserve to have a cat if I can’t do something as simple as keep them away from string.

    Suffice it to say, I am not a fan of this toy. There are plenty of other fun puzzle toys out there that are safe and allow the pet parent to use a treat of their own choosing.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 25, 2015 at 12:21 pm (2 years ago)

      Debbie, thank you for this comment. I was actually thinking about Katie when I wrote this. I’ve had a few comments on Facebook so far telling me that I’m overreacting, and that cats aren’t “stupid” and can tell the difference between a toy and real string. And I actually agree with the person that said “cats aren’t stupid” – they ARE smart, which is why they’ll easily make the connection between “ooh, this tastes good” when chewing on this toy, and then moving on to real string because they remembered the pleasant experience with the toy.

      Reply
  19. Ilse Devriese
    August 25, 2015 at 9:27 am (2 years ago)

    Couldn’t agree more!

    In my days as a veterinary assistent, I saw several dogs and cats come in for an operation that cost a lot of money because they swallowed a toy that was potentially life threatening and for cats it is almost always strings. In fact, one of my acquaintances had a cat who went out of her way to find a string in the sowing kit, to then swallow it – it is one of the reasons any toys with strings should be safely put away once play time ends.

    Usually, the cats are more interested in what’s on the end of the string as prey, though. To actively teach them that eating string-like objects holds a food reward could end in disaster if the owner accidentally leaves any string type objects out. The cat could ‘generalise’ their behaviour to include the non-eatable variant, much like many generalise fireworks noise to car back firing and the like, causing year round fear instead of just the one day.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 25, 2015 at 10:56 am (2 years ago)

      I remember far too many foreign body surgeries that involved string from my years working in veterinary clinics, too, Ilse.

      Reply
  20. Random Felines
    August 25, 2015 at 9:09 am (2 years ago)

    we have to agree – a total design fail. even if your cat “never” eats anything that isn’t food, why take the risk?? plus we have seen several places where it doesn’t even appear many cats even like the string treats.

    Reply
  21. Diane
    August 25, 2015 at 9:09 am (2 years ago)

    Although I understand COMPLETELY that string is NOT good for cats to eat, I hardly believe that any cat that sees string will not be motivated to “play” with and/or eat it. It is just their nature. And I have had two young boys in the hospital after having the strings from carpeting stuck in their intestines. I think it’s just against their nature! Plus just like I’m totally against letting a cat outside (unless completely supervised, maybe), a toy like this needs complete supervision. I’ve given it to two of our cats and they enjoy it–even though it doesn’t go too far! I cannot speak to the content of the “string,” but since all our cats are fed raw, I don’t mind giving them a little treat every once in awhile. As with everything, moderation and supervision are key. But I also agree that there are lots of people out there that should be warned since they just might not realize how dangerous something as simple as a true piece of string or something like it can be!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 25, 2015 at 9:24 am (2 years ago)

      I agree that if you are going to use this toy, it should be used only with complete supervision, Diane.

      Reply
  22. Lauren
    August 25, 2015 at 9:02 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Ingrid,
    I enjoy your site and read your posts regularly. Though I’ve never submitted a comment, I’d like to this time by offering a different perspective on this toy. I have a cat, Dexter, who has a significant chewing problem which has been an issue since the day I adopted him and his sister as kittens. I’ve worked with both my vet and a behaviorist on this, and we’ve found that giving Dexter food puzzles as well as acceptable chew toys to satisfy his urges has significantly decreased this problem. I added the Friskies toy to our collection a month or so ago and both my cats love it. The “string” part is kind of doughy and breaks off easily. It gives Dexter, “the chewer” an outlet for his behavior, and hasn’t caused Gracie, his sister, to show any interest in chewing anything inappropriate around the house. I enjoy your product reviews, and hope this adds to the dialogue. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 25, 2015 at 9:23 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you for offering your perspective on this toy, Lauren – much appreciated!

      Reply
  23. Janine
    August 25, 2015 at 7:54 am (2 years ago)

    I feel like a bad mom. The string thing didn’t even cross my mind. My complaint was the treats didn’t fall out of the bottom very easily. Then, my (too smart for her own good) cat shoved the toy into a corner and gobbled all the string thing down in seconds. After reading your post, I think the rest will go in the trash. We actually liked Temptations Snacky Mouse better. They enjoyed slapping at it and the treats came out easy.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 25, 2015 at 8:04 am (2 years ago)

      Don’t feel like a bad mom, Janine! But your comment is exactly why I felt it was important to write this post: not all cat parents will know how dangerous string can be for cats, or make the connection that this toy might make cats think that strings are acceptable toys.

      Reply
  24. Fur Everywhere
    August 25, 2015 at 7:31 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you for speaking out on this, Ingrid. I, too, thought it was a bad idea when I initially heard about it. It’s not okay to encourage cats to play with string, yarn, etc. It is so dangerous for them! I will definitely express my concerns to Friskies over the product.

    Reply
  25. Jane
    August 25, 2015 at 7:23 am (2 years ago)

    My cat doesn’t eat string or anything that’s not food, so I have no problem giving this to her. She loves it. It gives her a different shape and texture to munch on. She knows the difference between food and non-food. If you have a cat that tends to eat strings and foreign objects, then don’t give this to your cat. It’s about knowing your cat and what she can and can’t handle. Don’t ban it for everyone else.

    Reply
    • Ruth
      November 29, 2015 at 6:08 pm (2 years ago)

      I agree. My four cats love this and KNOW the difference between string and a cat treat. I’ve had cats for decades. One is a 17 year old. If you are watchful of your cats you should not have a problem. We play with thick long string like the size of washlline and also other string or ribbons. Never had a problem.

      Reply
  26. Jan
    August 25, 2015 at 6:47 am (2 years ago)

    Your review for the pull and play is exactly why I did not buy one for my kitties (4). I was afraid it would encourage eating string.
    Totally agree, bad design.

    Reply
  27. Jackie
    August 25, 2015 at 6:26 am (2 years ago)

    I agree with your comments and so glad you wrote about this toy. My thought was the same as yours…why make a cat think “all” strings are good to eat….I just hope that no kitty is harmed from this product and it does come off the shelves fast!

    Reply
  28. Sometimes Cats Herd You
    August 25, 2015 at 6:12 am (2 years ago)

    This product design is bafflingly bad. I’ve already told them once how dangerous I think it is, and I may again. Strings and cats don’t mix.

    Reply
  29. Rachel
    August 25, 2015 at 4:39 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing this information, I totally agree. Having worked in a feline vets I have seen the horror of cats eating string and this product will just encourage the eating of string surely? I hope this product never makes it to England but I will keep your blog post in case it does to show my cat sitting clients. X

    Reply
  30. NB
    August 25, 2015 at 3:45 am (2 years ago)

    When I first saw this in stores, it was for a high price. Last week I saw it on sale at several places for $4.00. Guess it was a bust sale-wise as well. As for strings, my cats through the years have always played with strings, shoelaces, etc. They have never “eaten” them, but they have chewed on them. I didn’t buy this because I didn’t think it was worth even $4.00.

    Reply
  31. Margaret
    August 25, 2015 at 1:12 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you for posting this Ingrid. I couldn’t agree more – when Gracie was a kitten she swallowed a small length of ribbon that I had cut off a garment. It fell onto the floor and Gracie pounced on it in an instant and swallowed it. I was beside myself! I can’t imagine why anybody would want to encourage cats to eat something that looks like string! Just asking for trouble …

    Reply

Leave a comment

First time visitors: please read our Comment Guidelines.