Cats are notorious for being hard to please. I don’t want to think about the amount of toys we’ve bought that are now sitting in a drawer unused. Some of these were expensive, elaborately designed products, but just because a toy looks interesting to a human doesn’t mean your pet will like it.
There are a lot of lists of the best cat toys out there on the internet already but I thought it would be helpful to provide some insight into the personality of the kitties who enjoy them, so I asked some of my friends to share the toys their cats love most and play with regularly.
Why Sansa loves it: Sansa is the older of our two cats and she doesn’t enjoy vigorous play. She loses interest if she has to chase a toy too far. The Catit Design Senses Circuit is perfect for her because the balls are enclosed in a small space so she doesn’t have to run around.
Catit has created a really cool range of toys designed to stimulate your pet’s senses. This circuit is one of the more simple pieces which can be combined with others in the series to make a more complex cat playground.
It consists of a curved plastic tube with a ball inside. The top of the tube has peek-a-boo holes so your pet can stick his paw through and push the ball around. The fact that the ball moves in and out of sight appeals to their hunting drive – a trick that will catch most cats’ attention.
It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into this product – the swirl pattern and color of the ball is specially designed to appeal to cats and the sound it makes as it rolls also keeps them interested. his is a particularly great toy for indoor cats who are reluctant to engage in more active play.
Why Loki loves it: Loki is full of energy and needs a lot of exercise throughout the day. With this wand I can make him run all around the house and jump meters high until he gets exhausted. Unlike other wands with more delicate parts, the fabric “snake” can stand up to his biting and clawing when he “hunts” it.
One of the most traditional cat toys is the wand or fishing rod style toy. There are a lot of flimsy versions on the market but this one is an exception – it’s made of a strong polycarbonate wand with a colorful fabric strip attached at the end.
The design allows you to create circles and swirls – the changing shape is sure to catch most cats’ interest. This is one of the best cat toys for exercise as you can really run around with it and your cat should chase you at full speed. This makes it ideal for kittens and high energy cats. If your pet is a scratcher, it also allows you to enjoy interactive play while keeping your hands out of harm’s way.
Why Max loves it: Like Loki, Max loves to hunt, but he’s an outdoor cat so he prefers toys that look like small wildlife. He gets very excited when he sees the realistic “mouse” and will chase it until he gets it in his mouth. He’s not as rough with his toys as Loki so the mouse usually stays intact for a few months before it needs replacing.
Another variation on the fishing rod toy, the Cat Catcher features a 12-inch flexible glitter wand and braided safety wire with a handwoven mouse at the end.
The effect of light on the glitter wand is to spark interest while the mouse simulates natural prey. This is a sturdy and well made toy which should keep your pet entertained until he’s worn out. Great for indoor cats who don’t get to run around outside, regular play sessions will keep them healthy for years to come.
Why Stella loves it: Stella is a picky girl so it’s hard to catch her interest with regular toys. The smell of catnip however has her running across the room and begging for a sniff. We sometimes throw this beaver for her to fetch to give her some exercise; she’s an older cat and not very active.
Kong is a well established brand in the pet toy market – we have a lot of their products at home and haven’t had any issues with quality. This toy is a plush beaver with a refillable pocket for catnip. You can use the tub supplied and then top up with fresh stuff when it runs out.
If your pet is one of the 50-70% of adult cats that have a reaction to catnip, they’re in for a treat (source). The beaver is the ideal size for your kitty to grab and nuzzle as they love to do when they’re “high” on catnip. It’s robust and should last even when your pet is biting and scratching it on a regular basis.
I love that it’s refillable so you don’t have to throw it out once the catnip loses its scent. The design also allows you to twist the plushie to squeeze more oils from the catnip – so you’re sure to get good value for money. This toy is ideal for adult cats who get bored or are uninterested in plain toys; don’t bother getting it for kittens as they aren’t sensitive to catnip until they’re grown.
Why Moe loves it: Moe is a clingy boy and is constantly looking for attention from me. When I’m not able to drop everything and use an interactive toy with him, the Hex Bug Mouse toy keeps him occupied for a good 10 minutes – until he pushes it under the sofa, that is!
Pet toys, like everything, have become more high-tech in recent years. I’m generally not a fan of automatic toys because I don’t like the idea of leaving a gadget to amuse your pet without any interaction from a human. However, the Hex Bug mouse is one of the good ones. It’s not something you can leave your cat alone in the house with, it does require supervision, but you can sit back and let this little electronic rodent do all the work for you.
Its erratic movement mimics real prey, it’s a real treat for indoor cats who’ve never seen a live mouse before and should entertain kittens and adult cats alike.
Why Jake loves it: Jake has a thing for flies. The second one sneaks into the house, he leaps up and catches it. Luckily we have fly screens so they rarely come in but Jake gets the same kick from chaing the small dot of light emitted by this LED toy. I shine it close to the ceiling and he can’t take his eyes off it.
We’re all familiar with the old reliable laser pointer toy for cats, but if if you want to avoid the risk of eye damage, this LED is a safer option. I find that my cats always look for the source of the light so it’s simply too dangerous for me to use a laser.
This is another great cat toy for exercise and high energy cats, you can make them jump as high as they can by shining the light on the ceiling. However, since your pet can’t physically grab the dot of light at the end of the recreation period, he can be left feeling frustrated. Make sure to finish this type of game with a physical toy like one of the fluffy mice below.
Why Smokey loves them: Smokey’s just eight months old so everything is still new to him. We didn’t want to overwhelm him with complicated toys right away. These mice are cheap, cheerful and small enough for him to carry around in his mouth.
An simple toy that’s perfect for kittens is the traditional fluffy mouse. These are definitely an interactive toy as you’ll have to help throw or kick them around to make things exciting. That said, young kittens are so excitable that they’ll chase their own shadows so they could be enough fun on their own. The simple fluffy mouse is also useful if you have a cat who likes to play fetch.
Why Sam loves it: Sam is an outdoor cat and judging by what he leaves on our doorstep, his hunting skills are pretty advanced! We keep him inside in the winter and he gets bored quickly. Adding this tunnel into the mix made things more interesting for him, now he can play hide and seek with his toys and with us.
If you want to be a really awesome pet owner, create a fun environment for your cat by providing lots of places for them to hide. Tunnels with crinkle fabric emulate the noises of the wild, such as walking on crunchy leaves. This one is collapsible so your home can go from feline playground to respectable human habit when you have guests over.
Why Patchy loves them: We got these crinkle balls for Patchy when we adopted her as a kitten and they’re still her favorites. She’s not a year old yet so she’s easily entertained – even though the balls don’t move by themselves, she manages to fling them across the room, down the stairs and pretty much everywhere.
Why Bella loves it: Bella is the pickiest cat I’ve ever met. She turns her nose up at nearly every toy we buy for her. We wanted to keep her mind active since she’s indoor only and doesn’t get to hunt. This food maze makes her work for her meal, even if she doesn’t like the toy, she has to engage with it to get her dinner! She uses it every day which makes us happy.One that’s guaranteed to engage every cat is the puzzle food dispenser – maze games which your pet must engage with to release his dry food. The Catit Senses Food Maze forces your pet to use his mind if he wants to fill his tummy.
Even if they aren’t that interested in the “game”, they will get hungry and engage eventually. This is best for cats who are reluctant to play and those who have a tendency to eat quickly.
Why Molly loves them: Molly is an indoor cat who has to spend some time on her own when we’re not home. These springs don’t require any human input and are safe for me to leave out for her. When she gets bored, she can bat at them and they’ll bounce and roll away from her. Chasing them gives her some exercise during the day.
These simple springs are good for kittens and indoor cats as a backup for interactive toys. They don’t require human involvement as they bounce and move about when your cat touches them, but you can get involved if you like by throwing and hiding them.
Stay Safe, Play Safe!
Always check cat toys for small parts which could break off and present a choking hazard.
Put fishing rod and feathers away when you’ve finished. Your pet can get tangled up in the string or swallow feather parts, leading to injury.
If you use a laser pointer with your kitty, make sure he doesn’t look into the light source as it will damage his eyes.
Don’t use your hands when roughhousing with your cat. Not only will you probably get scratched, you should train your pet to associate your hands with positive actions such as petting and feeding.
When providing hiding places for your kitty, paper bags work well but never use plastic bags. They are a suffocation risk.
Even if your pet loves a toy initially, he will get bored with it if you don’t mix things up. To keep his interest, get a few different types and alternate them.