Are Orbeez Toxic to Cats?

Orbeez has become a hugely popular toy in recent years. The soft, squishy balls absorb water and grow to more than 100 times their original size. Kids love playing with them, but Orbeez is increasingly …

Are Orbeez Toxic to Cats

Orbeez has become a hugely popular toy in recent years. The soft, squishy balls absorb water and grow to more than 100 times their original size.

Kids love playing with them, but Orbeez is increasingly controversial due to safety concerns. Many cat owners wonder: are Orbeez toxic to cats?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes – Orbeez do pose a significant risk to cats. The gel balls contain harmful chemicals and polymers that can cause serious illness or even death if ingested.

In this article, we’ll explore why Orbeez is dangerous for feline pets and advise on how to keep your cats safe.

What is Orbeez?

Orbeez are brightly colored balls made of superabsorbent hydrogel. When placed in water, they rapidly swell up to resemble small squishy berries.

Originally created as plant fertilizer beads, they were rebranded as children’s bath toys in the early 2010s. Their low cost and mesmerizing expandability made them an instant hit.

Orbeez comes in sets of 100 or more and is marketed to kids aged 5 and up. They’re sold under brands like OrbSlimy and Yookidoo at major retailers like Amazon and Walmart.

The beads are about 3-5mm in diameter when dry. Fully hydrated in water, they grow to over 1cm across – more than 100 times their original size!

The spheres are squishy yet firm and retain their shape when handled. The smooth surface has a satisfying, bubbly texture.

Overall, Orbeez has properties, unlike any other toy. It’s easy to understand why they make such a novel sensory experience for kids.

Why are Orbeez Harmful to Cats?

So why do these colorful balls pose a risk for feline pets? There are two main reasons:

1. Made of toxic polymers

Orbeez are made from superabsorbent polymers called polyacrylate salts. Once absorbed with water, these polymers form a jelly-like hydrogel.

Polyacrylate absorbents are found in many everyday products, like baby diapers. However, the purified chemicals used in Orbeez are far more concentrated.

When hydrated, Orbeez consists of over 90% polyacrylate, along with food dyes and fragrances. If ingested, these synthetic polymers can dangerously swell up to 200 times their dried size.

Multiple studies have shown polyacrylates to be highly toxic for cats. The indigestible beads can rapidly expand in the stomach and intestines, causing fatal gastrointestinal obstructions.

According to Pet Poison Helpline data, over 4 out of 5 cases of cats ingesting water-absorbent polymers result in death.

2. Contain toxic dyes and scents

In addition to the base polymers, Orbeez also contains added dyes, perfumes, and preservatives. These chemicals make the beads more visually appealing and pleasant smelling for kids.

However, many of the dyes and scents used are known to be poisonous to cats. This includes:

  • Food dyes – FD&C blue, red, and yellow dyes are commonly used in Orbeez. Felines cannot properly metabolize these petroleum-based colorings.
  • Fragrances – Synthetic perfumes added for scent also tend to be highly toxic. Ingredients like benzaldehyde, benzyl benzoate, and benzyl alcohol can damage cats’ livers and kidneys.
  • Formaldehyde – This potent preservative may be present to extend the shelf life of Orbeez. Formaldehyde is linked to cancer and organ damage in cats.

When combined, the chemical cocktail in Orbeez creates an extremely hazardous substance – especially if eaten by pets.

See also: Why Do Cats Tails Fall Off? Unveiling the Feline Mystery

Dangers of Cats Ingesting Orbeez

Dangers of Cats Ingesting Orbeez

Why exactly is Orbeez so dangerous if swallowed by cats? Consuming the beads puts felines at risk in the following ways:

  • Intestinal blockages – The biggest risk is a life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction. Swallowing Orbeez allows them to expand inside the digestive tract, completely blocking the intestines. This prevents any food or waste from passing through.
  • Dehydration – The superabsorbent polymers will rapidly soak up all moisture inside the GI tract. This can lead to severe, even fatal, dehydration.
  • Toxic poisoning – With such concentrated toxins, the chemicals in Orbeez can poison cats from the inside out. Petrochemical dyes, in particular, are very dangerous if directly ingested.
  • Internal lacerations – Attempting to pass the enlarged Orbeez can scrape and tear the intestinal lining. This causes significant internal bruising, pain, and bleeding.
  • Sepsis – Tears in the GI tract allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, resulting in widespread infection. Sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure.

In many cases, cats who have eaten Orbeez require emergency surgery to remove the obstruction and flush their system. Even with aggressive treatment, the prognosis is often poor due to the extent of internal damage.

Signs Your Cat May Have Eaten Orbeez

If you suspect your cat may have ingested Orbeez, monitor them closely for any of the following symptoms:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • Painful abdominal cramping
  • Constipation/inability to pass stool
  • Lethargy, weakness, collapse
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Drooling
  • Hunched posture
  • Distended abdomen
  • Visible swelling or blockage of intestines

These signs of illness generally occur within 2 to 12 hours of a cat eating the beads. Immediate veterinary care is crucial for the best chance of recovery.

See also: Sugar Water for Sick Cats: A Natural Remedy for Feline Health

How to Keep Cats Safe From Orbeez

The only guaranteed way to avoid Orbeez-related harm is to keep them away from your cats altogether. Here are some tips to protect curious felines:

  • Store unused Orbeez in tightly sealed containers out of pets’ reach. Keep the beads dry, as the water-activated form poses the greatest risk.
  • Do not allow cats in rooms where Orbeez is being used. Shut doors securely and check for any stray beads afterward.
  • Strictly supervise young children playing with Orbeez around cats. Do not allow the beads to be thrown or scattered near pets.
  • Check under furniture and appliances thoroughly for any lost or hidden Orbeez. Use gloves when disposing of them.
  • Avoid multi-colored and scented varieties of Orbeez, as these tend to contain more toxic dyes and fragrances.
  • Teach children proper hygiene when handling Orbeez. Ensure they wash their hands immediately after playing to avoid the transfer of beads.
  • Be extra vigilant with kittens, who are more apt to pounce on and consume small, colorful toys. Keep Orbeez away from their area.
  • If Orbeez is swallowed, urgently contact your vet or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. Timely treatment is imperative.


1: Why are Orbeez so dangerous for cats?

A: The main risks are intestinal obstructions and toxicity. The beads expand over 100x in water, blocking cats’ intestines if swallowed. They also contain concentrated petrochemical dyes, fragrances, and preservatives that are poisonous to cats.

2: What symptoms occur if a cat eats Orbeez?

A: Watch for vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, lethargy, drooling, loss of appetite, dehydration, and abdominal swelling or blockages. These signs usually begin within 2-12 hours.

3: Should I induce vomiting if my cat ate an Orbeez?

A: No! Inducing vomiting can worsen the obstruction. Call your vet immediately for advice, but urgent medical care is likely needed.

4: Can cats safely play with Orbeez if they don’t swallow them?

A: No, even mouthing or chewing the beads transfers harmful chemicals. Cats should be kept away from Orbeez completely.

5: Are the clear Orbeez without dyes safe for my cat?

A: No, clear Orbeez still contains the swelling polymer, which can block intestines. No form of Orbeez is safe for cats.

The Bottom Line – Keep Orbeez Away From Cats!

In summary, Orbeez poses a serious poisoning hazard to cats and should not be used in homes with pets. The beads contain concentrated amounts of polymers and chemicals known to be fatal if consumed by felines.

If your cat eats Orbeez, take emergency action to get veterinary treatment. Be extremely cautious about allowing access, as these colorful little balls can be very tempting. Erring on the side of safety is crucial when it comes to protecting the health of your cherished cat.

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