Cat toys keep Kitty mentally and physically sharp but they don’t do anything if your furbaby throws them under the sofa or the fridge. We need toys a cat will actually play with. In cat play it is all about engaging their natural instinct to chase, stalk, and hunt.
How to Find Toys a Cat Will Actually Play With
Just like kids, cats need a variety of toys to encourage solo and interactive play. In addition to providing a variety of play experiences, you want to consider safety, durability, and playability when choosing toys for your kitty. Safety and durability are obvious. Playability varies from cat to cat.
Every kitty has their own favorite play style. Some want to chase a ball and others just love throwing a catnip toy in the air. My Persian likes to keep his paws firmly on the floor. But my little girls love to fly. Playability is what makes a toy a winner or a loser for your cat.
Remember to observe your cat with whatever toys you choose. Treeno can’t have any solo play toys with feathers, he’ll just eat them. I had to cut tails off catnip mice for Midnight. Inspect Kitty’s toys regularly for loose pieces, holes or damage that could cause harm.
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Here are the best cat toys your cat will actually play with, based on my personal experience with my cats, my client cats, and 7 years in pet retail management.
Every cat needs a Turboscratcher. It is my classic “new kitten” gift to my friends. It is a combination scratcher and ball track toy.
You can use it on any type of flooring because it has non-slip feet so it doesn’t slide. The balls and pads are replaceable if your kitty pulls it out.
You can get upgrades and add-ons. They make a ball with flashing lights, a grass planter insert for the center, and the catnip cyclone, an extra ball track that you can connect to make it double track. You add catnip to it for added attraction.
Bergan makes a treat dispenser and a feather toy that you can put in the center. They were less than successful with my cats who preferred the scratching part left alone. There’s also a self grooming arch you can put on it too but we didn’t like it at all. My big cats just pulled it out as they went under it.
All of my cats have appreciated this toy, flyers and four on the floor types equally.
Yeowww Catnip Toys:
These things are the gold standard of catnip toys. Even my cats that aren’t usually excited about catnip go wild for these. I don’t know what their magic is, but it’s special.
The catnip stinkies little sardines are the best thing around here. But the banana is usually the most recommended in my experience. Seriously though, unless your cat is not genetically programmed to appreciate catnip, anything Yeowww, you can’t go wrong.
GoCatGo Catnip Toys:
One of OurPets lines, these are pretty much your average catnip toy. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. They make the list because my Treeno is obsessed with their catnip pickle toy. No other will do. He doesn’t care about Yeowww, he wants his pickles. He loves them, sings to them as he carries them around, and brings them to me as gifts. We have to watch him in the pet store, he’ll steal them right off the shelves at Petsmart or Petco.
The canvas heart is a winner with Plush and the Mayhem girls and my daughter’s cat can’t get enough of the pepper and the carrot.
Most of my best lure toys are handmade ones that I get from vendors at shows, so I don’t really have a favorite mass market one to recommend. Check out Etsy for some handmade options – or visit your local cat show and check out the vendors. You might find the perfect toy. Look for something with a longer handle and securely attached lures.
The catnip toy on a wand have been a pretty consistent bust here. Mylar and feathers, wiggly worms and things that looks like bugs usually win.
This JW Wool-ee Crawler Wand acts like a worm. Great for ground prey loving cats. The wand is telescopic, you can get up to four feet of distance. The lure can be replaced.
Two inexpensive mass market options that are still popular here are by Cat Dancer Products:
The Cat Charmer is 4 feet of fleece on a wand. The length keeps your hand away from Kitty’s claws and fangs. Good for shy kitties that don’t want to get too close, or wild kittens that don’t know how to play gently yet. The stick is a little bit flexible so you can play some tug of war. This is an easy one to stick in a back pocket and walk around with while you do chores or something and let Kitty get his chase on.
The original Cat Dancer toy. I describe this to people as the crazy toy I never bought because I thought it was dumb. Until I ended up buying it. My cats went ca-razy! for it. It is just rolled up cardboard on a spring wire that simulates a bug for your cat. It is worth much more than the $3.50 (but don’t tell them, they might raise the price.) If you don’t have one of these, get one.
The Cat Dancer is better for my jumpers and flyers, but even Plush will play with it some (if they will back off and let him.)
Cheap and easy. And if you want to play fetch with your cat these spring toys might be the best toy on the market. Matisse and Minnie will bring these to me so I can throw it for them – again and again and again. It’s another favorite that gets carried around. Betsy never wants to share them. Luckily they come in 20 packs, we always have a ton of these around.
As long as you don’t have carpet, you need these toys! The Hexbugs are fully automated and completely random. My cats jump at them and whack them around. The toys will flip back over on their own. The batteries are replaceable so the toy doesn’t expire when the battery does like some electronic toys. The only downside is they are small and easily lost.
A real boredom buster. Essentially a forage box. Toss in small toys and some treats and let your cat have a hunt. Three different levels of difficulty as your kitty masters it. Also available in Epic and Sliders for more of a challenge. All made from reinforced cardboard. My chew-obsessed Mocha Latte hasn’t killed it yet. When they do manage to kill it, the CatAmazing is 100% Recyclable.
I love to set this thing up if we’re going to be out for the day. Keeps the wild crowd happy and boredom or separation anxiety at bay.
The Smart Cat Peek-a-Prize is similar to the CatAmazing but made out of wood and much less challenging. It comes with two rubber balls. There’s a smaller version as well.
So many choices. I love Catit products. If someone said I had to limit my cats to one line of products, Catit would probably be it.
Start out with the Senses line.
Begin with the basic Senses 2.0 circuit toy. You can buy add-on straight, wave, and endcap pieces and design 100 different combinations to keep it interesting. The tunnel has breaks in it so Kitty can see the ball and reach in and poke it to keep it going.. Replace the normal ball they include with the “Fireball” for added fun.
Up the excitement with add-in pieces among your circuit design. An oval scratcher would be my first add-on. The Senses Digger treat forager would be my next option. My cats loved the grass planter. It’s probably better for a smaller cat family, my guys decimated it pretty quickly.
The Wellness Center is supposed to be a grooming tool. Mostly it serves as Tiger’s favorite bed around here.
The scratch tower and a flower fountain would finish off a super sized playground for your kitty.
The only piece we didn’t have success with was the food tower. It is supposed to be a foraging puzzle but my cats figured out in about 5 minutes that they could just push it over and enjoy the bounty.
A tunnel is another basic every cat should have. There are a lot of models on the market. I say get the biggest one your space will allow, especially if you have multiple cats playing together. I like the nylon style better than the fabric because they are easy to clean. Be sure the edges are reinforced and inspect the tunnel regularly to make sure the wire isn’t poking through.
Highland Farms cat toys variety pack for Kitty 20 pieces. Something for everyone. A great option if you have a new cat or multiple cats. These are a good way to figure out what kinds of toys your cat likes best.
You’ll cover the playtime basics for a new kitten if you get this variety pack, a tunnel, a Turboscratcher and a Cat Dancer before you bring your kitten home. You can upgrade and add in the others as you go. After all, variety is the spice of life.
Now, because every cat is different, there is going to be that one toy that your cat can’t get enough of that didn’t make my list. What is it? What would your cat say is the perfect cat toy a cat will actually play with?
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