Playtime is important for cats. It has many benefits, but the most notable is what it does for a feline’s physical well-being. Cats sleep as much as 16 hours a day, and playing—whether it’s with you, with other kitties, or by themselves—helps them to maintain a healthy weight.
Cat toys are an integral part of a feline’s play regimen, especially for those kept entirely indoors. There are many different types of cat toys, from mice stuffed with catnip to puzzles that will get them using their bodies and brain. We sort through the different types of playthings and look at what’s most loved by pawrents and cats.
There are plenty of toys that will appeal to us humans, but don't forget—at the end of the day, it's all up to the cat. That might mean trying out a variety of items to find what a kitty responds to the most, but their health and happiness will be better off for it.
Check out the best cat toys based on category.
It's unlikely that every cat will like all of these categories of toys. If you find that your cat is not a fan of automated items, for instance, there are some other types of toys to try. Regardless of the type of item, each has high marks in online reviews.
Kitties love catnip—it activates the happy mood receptors in their brain. You can give them dried catnip sans the toy, of course, but it tends to get messy. Toys offer a way for them to mellow out while having something to lick, bat around, and sometimes fall asleep with.
The great thing about catnip toys is that they come in all sorts of fun iterations. The brand Yeowww!, for instance, stuffs rainbows, bananas, and fish with 100% organic cat nip.
As great as catnip toys are, there is a caveat. Eventually, they lose their potency and your furry friend might ignore them.
Automated Cat Toys
Anything in this category is going to be something that moves on its own. This is good news for you because these toys can be played with by your furry friend without you present. They’ll entertain the cat with unpredictable movements to keep things interesting.
One example of this is an electric flopping fish that has an automatic sensor. Whenever your cat touches it, it starts wiggling back and forth. Although this is certainly exciting, automated toys like the fish aren’t for all felines. Some of the more skittish kitties will likely be scared of these toys, which tend to jerk around.
In the world of cat playthings, string toys are perhaps the most basic ones around. But they have staying power because kitties continue to love them. You can drag the string or ribbon to the ground and encourage your cat to stalk it, or you can flip it up in the air and make your cat dance. For added flair, look for string toys that have feathers on the end.
Scratchers include cat trees with sisal posts attached or cardboard creations that invite a kitty to sink their claws into them. If you want to save your furniture from tiny (yet destructive) talons, make sure you have plenty of scratchers around. There are loungers where your cat can sleep and also scratch, as well as small boxes that exist for the sole purpose of getting torn up.
The act of scratching helps remove the outer layer from a cat’s claw and aids in grooming. Additionally, it allows them to stretch and is a great place for them to express their zoomies.
Exercise a cat’s mind when you present them with a puzzle toy. This category of toys has some sort of problem-solving aspect to it. An object or treat, for instance, might be hidden and your kitty will have to dig and move things around in order to find it. This activates their instincts to forage and scratch while keeping them entertained.
If it’s not a catnip toy, there are plenty of other items like coiled springs and balls that are easy for them to bat around, carry, and hide (only for you to find later). Because of how small and inexpensive they are, these toys are easy to acquire. Your cat will likely have an entire toy chest to choose from (as they should).
How to Find the Best Toys for Your Cat
Cats can be really finicky, and not all of them are going to like the same kinds of toys. Some might be scared by automation while others ignore puzzle games. Unfortunately, kitties can’t vocalize what they’re interested in, so there will be some trial and error involved.
Start by considering how your cat interacts with different objects in your home. Maybe your kitty likes to jump on your kitchen counter and mess with twist ties or plastic rings from packaging. If that’s the case, then try getting them small objects they can play with and easily carry.
If your favorite feline is always trying to enter every crevice of your space, a puzzle box might be in order. That way, they can continue to dig, sniff, and explore safely within the confines of the toy.
Once you figure out what your cat likes, go for variety to ensure they’ll get as much stimulation as possible. And finally, look for durability in the toys you select. If a cat loves a toy, you’ll want to get as much mileage from it as possible. Opt for high-quality materials to ensure that their toys will be favorites for years to come.
Did you find that your cat absolutely hates one of the toys you’ve selected? Don’t throw it out! Look to your local Buy Nothing group or animal shelters to give other kitties a chance to enjoy them.