It is well known that cats are very independent and don’t require your constant attention. Maybe that’s the main reason why you got one as a pet! However, like any other pet, they need to develop and practice their skills to be healthy and happy. Cat toys can help them grow and exercise, and they can be fun to watch too!
Most cats like playing on their own, but from time to time, they will be happy with the challenge of playing with you. As a responsible pet owner, it is a good idea to make it a habit and keep your cat happy and engaged in the game, even if it is for a few minutes a day.
Benefits of Playing
Playing will help your cat in every aspect of its development. From cognitive skills to hunting instincts, you can help them be the best at what they are designed to be. A cat that does not get positive attention will end up bored and have various health problems, such as obesity or even depression.
It has been proven that cat toys can help them relieve stress, anxiety, and boredom. When indoor cats don’t have toys to play with, they supplement their hunting instincts with anything they find in the house: from your curtains to your shoelaces.
When you are playing, you and your cat speak the same language, and toys are the best solution to develop a good bond between you and your cat.
But wait! There are at least 1,000 different toys for your cat— soft toys, interactive toys, scratchers, teaser toys, and many more.
So, what to buy? When to buy it? How best to use them to have the best time with your feline friend?
We have got all the answers. Here we go!
What type of cat is your cat?
You might know this already, but cats, although they have a lot in common, tend to behave quite uniquely. It is essential to understand your cat, its personality, and its tastes before adding cat toys to the cart.
If you are wondering what characteristics to look for in your cat, try to observe it in different situations and find its nature. Some are always active, jumping and running around following an insect in the garden, while others slouch on your couch for most of the day, and they are happy just relaxing.
Ideally, every cat must be active for at least some time during the day; that is why cat toys need to be motivational and engaging.
For active cats, look for activity games and battery-operated mouse toys. One of our favorites is the Pawaboo Cat Toy with Running Mouse, an electric interaction motion cat toy that will develop your cat’s hunting skills.
For the ones that have been inactive for a while, you can start with soft toys and slowly move to the teasers. There is a huge variety of soft toys for cats. We love Chiwava Furry Cat Toys. They are simple and shaped as mice, rattle with movement, and they come in various colors.
Another angle you need to look at is what kind of things your cat is attracted to. Some cats are attracted to moving objects; some find cozy, soft materials soothing. Some cats like to play around the water. If this is the case, try a swimming fish cat toy.
Sometimes a couch potato of a cat that sleeps for 16 hours a day might be very sharp at hunting activities. You can only know when the situation calls for it.
There is a toy for every personality. Observing your cat for a few days will give you an idea of what your cat likes and what motivates it.
Safety Guidelines For Cat Toys Shopping
- Do not buy small toys that can be swallowed accidentally by the cat.
- Do not purchase toys that bigger than the cat itself. Though some cats find them good to cuddle, some feel intimidated to play with them.
- Only buy toys that are sold as cat toys.
- Look for a toxicity certification. Some materials might be harmful to the cat.
- If your cat is allergic or has any special conditions, check if the toy is right for it.
- Do not buy easily breakable toys. Though cats handle things softly, in general, a break in the toy might end up hurting your cat.
- Avoid introducing any ‘specialty’ cat toys until the kitty is at least six months old.
- If your cat reacts negatively or does not enjoy a particular toy, feel free to return it or pass it on to someone else.
- Make sure it responds well to the toy before leaving it unsupervised. Some cats might find toys annoying after a while.
- Finally, scratchers are an essential part of any cat’s home. It not only helps scratch the cat’s nails but also protects your sofas and beds from getting scratched.
Cat Toy Types
Soft toys: These are generally toys in the shape of a mouse that, when squeezed, mimic the sound of the mice. It is the most popular toy for a cat.
We like Our Pets Play-N-Squeak. It has a very realistic mouse electronic sound, and it contains catnip, a 100% natural herb that stimulates a harmless, playful reaction in cats.
Remember, not all cats show a positive reaction towards catnip. If that is the case, try honeysuckle or silver vine instead.
Teasers: Teasers are electronic devices that replicate the movements of hidden prey. This type of motion fascinates cats and encourage healthy activity through play. Fishing poles are not the only form of teasers you can get. There are a lot of options like motorized wands and lasers.
Interactive: Interactive cat toys are the talk of the internet nowadays. There is a new type coming out every so often. In this category, you can find anything, from a simple ball track puzzle to a complex path tracking.
We love Petstages Cat Tracks, a circle track with moving balls inside, that can be left flat on the floor or turn on its side. It also has a jingle sound to keep your cat engaged.
Zenes Electric Flutter Rotating Cat Teaser is another interactive toy we like. It has a broad base for stability and comes with replacement butterflies.
Scratchers: As we said earlier, scratchers are an essential part of any cat’s home set-up. Cats primarily require scratchers to keep their nails healthy.
There are many scratchers in the market, but our picks are:
- Bergan Turboscratcher Cat Toy; it is a scratcher pad, with catnip and a rolling ball.
- PetnPurr Cat Scratching Post; is made in the shape of a cactus, and it comes with a teaser ball.
- Catify Cat Scratcher Pad by Best Supplies; it has a contemporary design, and it has been made to last, with hardened corrugated cardboard and 100% non-toxic, recyclable materials.
- PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge; the original version, award-winning cat scratcher. Made of recycled cardboard and non-toxic corn starch glue. Beautiful, modern design in neutral colors. It would look great in any house.
Puzzle Toys and Feeders: These toys are fun and also operate as a food dispenser for treats, so your cat feels motivated, knowing there’ll be a reward.
We like All for Paws Interactive Puzzle because it’s quite challenging, and curious cats love it.
Catit Senses 2.0 Digger is a feeder design to help greedy eaters eat at a healthier pace, but you can also use it as a toy. It has multiple tubes that stimulate natural pawing behavior in a fun way. If you are looking for something simpler, PetSafe SlimCat is your toy.
Evergreen Toys: These can be a pile of balls and household objects that lay around your house. Make sure they are safe before introducing them as a cat toy.
Catnip Toys: These are soft toys stuffed with the herb catnip that releases an aroma that stimulates play in cats. As we said before, if your cat doesn’t react well to it, you can try honeysuckle or silver vine.
How to Manage Your Cat’s Toys?
Before getting into managing your toys, you will need to make sure you get rid of all the small, dangerous objects your cat can access.
Cats tend to take every small household object like rubber bands, pins, and twins and put them in their mouths. There is a good chance that it can end up badly.
So, make sure you keep tiny and harmful objects out of their reach.
I know what you are thinking, cats can reach every small, hidden place in your house, that’s in their nature.
But there are some places like closed cabinets or boxes which they won’t be able to access. Simply collect all the small objects and loose bits and put them inside a box.
Now that you have got your house tidy and toys ready, you need to keep them safe and cycle them periodically if you want them to last.
Like babies, cats tend to get bored with a toy if it is laying around for more than a month.
So get a variety of toys and let your cat use them a few at a time, hiding the rest in a place it can’t reach.
Evergreen play objects like balls, rings, and soft toys can be left around for the cat to cuddle with.
Organize your toys, so they repeat only once in a while. Getting a cat toy out for three sessions a week will keep them interested for at least a year.
Keep in mind that some of these toys need your supervision or participation to play. Make sure you leave some toys around for your cat to play independently too.
When to Play With Your Cat?
Like the choice of toys, your play schedule also needs attention. Having a regular play schedule keeps your cat active and helps maintain proper metabolic and sleep cycles.
It can be anything from running after a teaser toy to sharpening their hunting instincts in the garden or a food rewarding puzzle game to sharpen their minds.
The general recommendation is two sessions a day of playtime, with a session averaging around 20 minutes.
If you have the time, make sure you play with your cat once in the evening after work, and once in the morning before leaving for work. That will cover its most basic needs.
Playtime helps develop cognitive, physical, and hunting instincts in the cat.
Cats tend to roam around in the owner’s absence and become bored quickly if they don’t have the proper attention from the owners.
Pick the right cat toys for your four-legged friends and keep them engaged and healthy. The best way to demonstrate your love to your cat is to take the time to play.