If you’re a long-time cat parent, you already know. You’ve got to keep that cat entertained and mentally stimulated, or something around your house will get broken, or your cat will just end up in some sort of general mischief.
Interactive cat toys go beyond a mere felt mouse or a cat tree, and they actively engage your cat’s mind and their primal instincts. Sakura Davis, Veterinary Technician and Veterinary Consultant for CatPet, shared, “The best cat toys are ones that entice their instincts to prey/hunt, they like textures and sizes that resemble them of their prey.”
Many interactive cat toys have some sort of “hunting” feature, that allows your cat to unleash their inner predator, while problem-solving. With these types of toys, they can spend more time actively playing in a healthy way, versus getting into trouble. This is especially important for indoor cats.
Factors to Consider When Picking an Interactive Cat Toy
Before you begin shopping for the perfect interactive cat toy for your feline friend, you may want to consider a few factors that may influence your final purchase.
- Does your cat need to be able to play alone?
- Does your cat need to lose weight?
- Do you need to take into consideration any safety concerns?
If you’re away from your cat for long periods of time, such as during the workday, then you may find that you want a toy that can keep them entertained for hours while you’re gone. There are many interactive cat toys out there that your cat can use all on their own, no help needed.
However, other cat toys require a human element. The most common of these is probably the wand toy — usually a stick with something to chase on the end. Many cats love these, but they do require you to sit and actively play with your cat, for it to be any fun.
Many cat owners find that having a mixture of these two types of toys is preferable.
If your cat needs to lose some weight, you may want to purchase a toy that will help them do so, not only by making them more active but by distributing food in a calculated manner. Feeder toys require your cat to get active and possibly solve a puzzle and, in reward for the efforts, distribute small amounts of food.
Safety concerns come into play when considering two very popular cat favorites — catnip and laser pointers. While catnip is safe in most cases, you may want to avoid catnip toys if you’ve noticed your cat becomes a little overly excited around it. Laser pointers are also safe in most cases, but not if the laser is too strong; if you do want to stimulate your cat with laser play, be sure to buy a laser under five milliwatts.
Of course, you also just want to take into consideration the type of play your cat prefers. Some cats prefer toys with a lot of sounds and motion, while others like different textures and smells. Keep their likes and dislikes in mind while you’re shopping.
But My Cat Has Tons of Toys and Doesn’t Like Any of Them!
Is your cat suffering from choice anxiety? It is possible for your cat to have too many options.
If it looks like your cat doesn’t really care for any of their toys, try taking away all of them except for a few. Then, try engaging your cat with those few remaining toys.
If they engage, let them play with those toys for a while, then, after a few days, take them away and switch to two or three other toys from your put-away stockpile. Doing so will keep your cat stimulated and not allow them to get bored from always having a pile of toys available.
The 13 Best Interactive Cat Toys
Ready to start shopping? Check out these 13 best interactive cat toys for the curious kitty.
This inexpensive (under $10 while on sale) cat toy looks like a toy for toddlers, with its colorful design and polka-dot balls. The durable toy features four cylindrical tiers that are each outfitted with a ball, each of which spins around wildly when your cat bats at them.
The toy is large enough and has enough features that you could have two cats playing with the toy at one time. It doesn’t require any batteries, and your cat can play with it while they’re at home alone.
Does your cat go absolutely wild over birds outside your window? If your cat wants nothing more than to take their shot at the neighborhood wildlife, they may find the SmartyKat Electronic Bird Sound Toy entertaining.
The toy comes in multiple shapes and sizes, but all are cute little plush birds that are the right size for most cats to easily hold or carry.
The toy makes noises whenever your cat touches or hits it the right way, and it’s filled with catnip.
The PetFusion Ambush Interactive Cat Toy stimulates your cat’s hunting instincts — especially any hunting experience that includes chasing after small, burrowing animals like moles.
The round, solid and sturdy toy sits in one place but contains a small feather and six holes around the base of the toy. At any given time, the feather might shoot out of any of the holes and then quickly disappear again, challenging your cat to pounce before it’s gone.
It’s a fun toy that doesn’t make any noise (meaning less annoyance for you) and one that cats can use all on their own.
You can even purchase replacement replacement feathers if things get really wild!
Okay, so the Cat Dancer looks pretty simple, but cats love it, and it’s one of those human-required toys that you can enjoy together.
The USA-made toy is like a typical wand toy, but it features a 30-inch, spring steel wire with some tiny, rolled tubes of cardboard at the end.
Seriously — that’s it.
But, cats go wild for chasing the cardboard teaser end, and it’s affordable enough that it’s worth giving it a try if you think it’s a toy your cat may like.
If you want a feeder cat toy, this option may be up your alley. The treat dispenser features five cylindrical cups that hold treats or cat food and requires your cat to use their natural instincts and digging abilities to retrieve each piece. It’s an excellent pick for cats who eat too quickly and need to slow down, as it requires them to work for their dinner.
It also keeps cats occupied for a while, in case you need them to be out of your hair for a good bit, and it’s easy to take apart and clean.
Another feeder cat toy, this option from PetSafe is just a lightweight ball that easily rolls around on any surface. When your cat bats it the correct way, it’ll produce a treat or two, or a few pieces of kibble.
The toy can be adjusted to produce the amount of food or treats you prefer if you think that the reward of just a piece or two isn’t doing it for your cat. You can also adjust the toy to fit different sizes and shapes of treats and food.
The ball can go in the dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
What cat doesn’t love a mouse? This robotic cat toy comes with batteries included. Set it up, turn it on, pick a setting and watch it go, your cat merrily chasing after it all the while.
The robotic mouse moves around in a somewhat erratic fashion, starting, stopping and speeding along. Like your robotic vacuum, it’s smart enough to know to avoid running into any objects (though it can get caught underneath furniture).
The small mouse works best on hardwood or linoleum, and you can pick from several settings, including fast and slow modes.
Another good pick for bird-loving cats, this plush toy is shaped like a fluffy, feather-covered chick. The electronic plush toy makes realistic bird noises and is filled with catnip for a simply irresistible combination. Your older cat may even start acting like a kitten again.
At less than $10, it’s very affordable, too.
As far as interactive cat toys go, the Cat Toy Ball is pretty tech-savvy. The ball rotates and rolls all by itself, comes with two feather-like tails that cats can’t resist chasing, it has lights and, rather than using batteries, it comes with a USB charger, with a hidden port, so it’s no danger to your cat. With a full charge, the ball runs for five hours of playtime.
Heavily durable, the ball can stand up to bumps and drops, as well as teeth. Just like the robotic cat toy, it’s smart enough to avoid running into any objects or walls.
If you decide that you do want to give your cat some laser fun, but you don’t have the time to sit and point a laser at the wall for hours, you may want to invest in this Cat Laser Toy.
The futuristic-looking, cone-shaped toy can point a laser anywhere in the room, with its 360-degree movement. It’s quiet, runs on batteries and shuts off after 15 minutes. There are three modes, so you can pick the best workout for your cat.
This Super Roller Play Circuit toy is both fun for cats and humans. Basically, the toy is made like a toy car track, with interconnecting pieces that you can move and change up to design your own track, but instead of cars racing along it, there’s a rolling and rotating ball to keep your cat batting and chasing for hours on end.
The starter kit comes with eight pieces for 44 total inches of track, but with those 44 inches, you can create more than 100 different designs. When you’ve exhausted all the options, you can order more track pieces, for longer, more complex track designs.
You might think such a unique toy would be expensive, but it’s under $25 at most retailers.
Another seriously smart robotic toy, this cat toy is a little robot on thick wheels that will zip around your house (avoiding running into any objects). However, to catch your cat’s interest, the robot has a wavy stick attached to the top, of which you can hang five different feather teaser objects.
The toy automatically shuts off after a while, but it also has a setting to randomly turn on for 10 minutes every hour or so, to surprise your cat with an unexpected little game of chase.
Another perk — this toy is one of the very few robotic cat toys that work well on carpet.
Available at just $11, the Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy receives rave reviews from cat parents. It gives your cat several activities to enjoy in one toy, with the circular base filled with a cardboard scratchpad in the center, but then surrounded by a contained ping pong-like ball on a track, so your cat can bat at it for hours, then switch to scratching, and vice versa.
The toy is a godsend for those cat parents needing something else for their cats to scratch up beyond the furniture. It’s long-lasting, too, the sturdy plastic base stands up to wear and tear and the scratch pads are replaceable.
Keep Your Cat Entertained For Hours
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The 13 Best Interactive Cat Toys for Curious Kitties:
- Petstages Cat Tracks Cat Toy
- SmartyKat Electronic Bird Sound Toy
- PetFusion Ambush Interactive Cat Toy
- Cat Dancer Interactive Cat Toy
- Catit Senses 2.0 Digger for Cats
- PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser Ball
- Hexbug Mouse Robotic Cat Toy
- Our Pets Play-N-Squeak Backyard Cat Toy
- Uniwood Interactive Cat Toy Ball
- Friends Forever Interactive Cat Laser Toy
- Catit Design Senses Super Roller Play Circuit
- Yvelife Interactive Cat Toy
- Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy