Last Updated: November 13, 2020
Celia Miller Author: Celia Miller

Best Interactive Cat Toy

Best Interactive Cat Toy

From lazy indoor pets to natural born hunters, all cats require play to stay healthy. The best toys encourage cats’ natural instincts through physical and mental stimulation. The K & H Scratch, Ramp & Track Cat Scratcher is our winner because it gives cats a safe scratching outlet plus balls to chase for a complete exercise experience.

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Best Multiple Choice
K&H Pet Products Scratch, Ramp & Track Cat Scratcher Toy with Catnip
K&H Pet Products Scratch, Ramp & Track Cat Scratcher Toy with Catnip Best Multiple Choice
$19
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
$20
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
8/10
  • What we Like
  • Cardboard scratcher provides a safe alternative to furniture scratching
  • Incline helps cats stretch their claws
  • Moving balls lets cats act out hunting instincts
  • Catnip attracts kitties
  • What we Dislike
  • Shredded cardboard eventually makes a mess
  • Lightweight scratcher might tip over under heavy cats
Product Details
Type Scratcher and Hunting-Simulation Toy
Main Material Cardboard
Our Review

The Scratch, Ramp & Track Cat Scratcher Toy is our winner because it combines the best features of a cat scratcher with a track toy, allowing cats to switch activities and stay mentally stimulated longer. The corrugated cardboard surface is longer and more elevated than most scratchers, allowing cats to mark their scent and stretch not just their claws, but their whole bodies as well. Humans will appreciate that it redirects scratching behaviors away from their furniture. In addition to the scratching post, this toy features moving balls at the bottom that can be batted to encourage natural hunting instincts. Added catnip attracts cats and lets their inner kitten surface, and it only takes a few minutes to assemble this K & H toy. The Scratch, Ramp & Track has just a couple downsides: shredded cardboard will eventually make its way off the toy, and big-boned cats might tip it over.

Best Overall
Pet Craft Supply Wiggle Pickle and Shimmy Shark Flipper
Pet Craft Supply Wiggle Pickle and Shimmy Shark Flipper Best Overall
$13
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
9/10
  • What we Like
  • Fast moving
  • Immediate engagement
  • No human needed
  • Durable fleece
  • What we Dislike
  • Shorter battery life
  • May scare older cats
Product Details
Type Hunting-Simulation
Main Material Fleece
Our Review

An update on the now-classic fish flipping cat toy, the Shark Flipper Flopper will have your cat engaged from the moment it begins wiggling its tail and pushing itself around the room. The common fish toy you’re seeing manufacturers produce en-masse doesn’t have nearly the strength and speed the Shark does and for kittens and cats with a strong prey instinct, this is just what you need to engage them and keep them coming back for more. This toy is basically a battery-powered (rechargeable)flopping motor inside a plush shark that is engaged if touched, dropped, or moved. It can be turned on or off and comes with a cable to charge it up.  These components are inside a compartment inside the fish that your kitty cannot get to easily.  It’s a little more powerful and that resistance drives cats wild! Our cats wear down the battery on this guy about once every 2 days because they just can’t leave him alone. Just the sound of him flopping in the other room sends everybody into a tizzy. There are 3-4 fish floppers and this Shark in our household and all of them get worked over pretty hard every day. The fish floppers are preferred by the older kitties as they don’t fight back as hard or fast, but the younger cats prefer the Shark and it’s well worth the price. You may need 2 so they have one to play with while one is on the charger.

Word of warning though- don’t let your dog near it, they might be tempted (especially once they see how much fun the cats are having!) but their jaws can crush and destroy the mechanism inside. Of course, our power-chewing dog had to steal it for a little paws-on testing, and it does.not.work.for.dogs.

Cat Dancer Cat Charmer
Cat Dancer Cat Charmer
$0
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
$5
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
9/10
  • What we Like
  • Provides lots of exercise, including chasing, running and jumping
  • Lightweight and easy to transport between rooms
  • Polycarbonate wand is durable
  • Ideal for playing with multiple cats
  • Puts distance between humans and kitty to keep hands safe from accidental scratching or biting
  • What we Dislike
  • Cloth ribbon can rip or fray in time
Product Details
Type Hunting-Simulation Toy
Main Material Fleece
Plastic
Our Review

The Cat Dancer Cat Charmer was a runner-up on our list because of a price that can’t be beat – you can purchase one for each room in your house without equaling the cost of some pricier toys. Consisting of a polycarbonate wand that is durable and lightweight, it’s easy to hold on to while the long fleece ribbon is being stalked, chased, and jumped on. The motions of the ribbon mimic mice or birds and stimulate your cat’s natural urges while also encouraging consistent physical activity to help him stay in shape. This toy is a great way for you to bond with your cat without suffering any scratching or biting injuries and also can be used to play with more than one cat at a time. After long-term use, the ribbon can fray and might need to be replaced altogether, but at this price, does it matter?

Catit Senses 2.0 Digger Interactive Cat Toy
Catit Senses 2.0 Digger Interactive Cat Toy
$15
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
$15
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
8/10
  • What we Like
  • Cats’ sense of smell and taste is stimulated
  • Ideal for visually impaired and/or older cats
  • Digging behavior simulates hunting prey
  • Can be used to control speed eaters’ feeding
  • What we Dislike
  • Cats can dislodge cups along with treats
  • Base can be unstable
Product Details
Type Treat dispensing toy
Main Material Plastic
Our Review

Looking for a way to slow your fast eater’s speed? The Catit Senses 2.0 Digger Interactive Cat Toy provides mental stimulation in the form of a food dispenser that will force your cat to dig out one treat at a time. Using food as part of the activity stimulates your kitty’s strong sense of smell and taste, which can be a great feature for cats who are visually impaired, older, or just more likely to be motivated by food than physical play. The digging behavior cats use to interact with the tubes in this toy naturally simulates hunting prey, making for a satisfied kitty. Made of BPA-free materials, the Digger Interactive is easy to disassemble to clean and comes with a rubber mat to secure the cat bowl in place. The base is sometimes unstable, and cats have been able to dislodge the cups while digging deep for treats.

Petstages Cat Tracks Cat Toy
Petstages Cat Tracks Cat Toy
$11
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
$11
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
8/10
  • What we Like
  • Smaller track toy than some others
  • Ideal size for those with limited home space
  • Kitty can entertain himself without human monitoring
  • Rubber “feet” keep the toy from sliding or tipping over
  • What we Dislike
  • Might be too small for larger cats
  • Not as stimulating as other interactive toys on the market
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Plastic
Our Review

The Petstages Cat Tracks Cat Toy is a three-tier tower with a multi-level circle track containing three moving balls to attract a cat’s attention. Brightly colored and built with a non-slip base to prevent the toy from tipping over, this toy successfully keeps cats busy for hours. Inexpensive and smaller than other track toys, this Petstages product is popular in homes of all sizes and can be used for multiple cats at a time. This option also allows cats to play without human intervention, though you can still interact with kitty by pushing the balls around the track and letting him bat them back to satisfy his hunting instincts. The small size of the toy is both a plus and a minus if cats have paws too large to fit in the track.

YVE LIFE Robotic Interactive Cat Feather Toy
YVE LIFE Robotic Interactive Cat Feather Toy
$0
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
5/10
  • What we Like
  • Sturdy enough to withstand enthusiastic play
  • Quiet for an automatic toy
  • Rechargeable so no need to buy new batteries
  • What we Dislike
  • Requires frequent recharging
  • Can be over stimulating to some cats
  • Attached wire prone to breaking
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Plastic
feathers
Our Review

Do you need to keep your cat occupied while you’re working or handling school from home? Consider this robotic offering from YVE Life that is both sturdy and quiet enough to not distract you. The toy comes with two catnip feathers to lure your cat, as well as a charmer, butterfly, and crinkle toy for kitty to bat at. There are multiple settings, including an irregular running option to keep kitty from getting bored with a set routine, and an automatic steering option to get the robot – and your cat – moving. Buyers with hardwood floors will get the best results, and while the battery is rechargeable, the charge doesn’t last long. The attached wire is also prone to breaking quickly.

On2Pets Skyline Scratching Post
On2Pets Skyline Scratching Post
$48
Review manufacturer on2pets
on on2pets
9/10
  • What we Like
  • Easy to assemble and move
  • Tall enough for kitties to stretch and scratch
  • Heavy base keeps the post from being knocked over
  • Provides an alternative to furniture for scratching
  • Durable enough to stand up to consistent wear and tear
  • What we Dislike
  • Great solo activity, but not meant for socialization with humans or other cats
Product Details
Type Scratcher
Main Material Sisal
astroturf
Our Review

The On2Pets Skyline Scratching Post will help you keep your furniture safe from cat claws. This USA-made toy has three levels of posts of varying heights to offer something for cats of all sizes, while the heavy base with leveling glides allows cats to safely engage in natural scratching and stretching behaviors. The Sisal-wrapped posts are made from durable, non-toxic materials, and the Skyline’s base is covered with artificial grass to mimic a cat’s natural habitat. While the posts are long-lasting, there are replacements available if needed, but sold separately. The Skyline is easy to assemble and move to different locations while still being big enough for cats to enjoy. This scratching post is highly rated but provides a solo experience for your kitty – it wouldn’t be the top choice for someone looking to bond with a pet.

Petlinks Tunnel and Hideout Cat Twinkle Chute
$22
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
7/10
  • What we Like
  • Cats love the catnip
  • Lights give this tunnel toy a special cat attractant
  • Tunnel maintains shape
  • What we Dislike
  • Too small for medium or big-boned cats
  • Lights have malfunctioned for some users
  • Doesn’t hold up to long term wear and tear
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Nylon fabric
Our Review

Cats get to run, chase and explore with this crinkle chute from Petlinks. This tunnel toy provides a satisfying crackling sound when cats run through, allowing them to engage in behavior that mimics stalking and pouncing on prey. Special features include catnip and touch-activated lights to attract felines, and humans can control the amount of play time with an on/off switch. The chute is spring-loaded, pops up easily, and maintains its shape without collapsing on kitty. While this toy is great for encouraging exercise, it doesn’t always hold up to consistent wear and tear and can prove hazardous if wires become exposed. Petlinks is geared towards smaller cats and might not be appropriate for large adults.

Best Human-Free Laser
PetSafe Bolt Laser Toy
PetSafe Bolt Laser Toy Best Human-Free Laser
$15
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
$19
Review manufacturer petsmart
on petsmart
6/10
  • What we Like
  • Users can choose between random or customized programming
  • Laser toy allows kitty to mimic natural hunting behavior
  • Automatically turns off after 15 minutes to preserve battery
  • What we Dislike
  • Motor can be too fast and too loud for some cats
  • Requires 4 AA batteries, which are expensive to continually replace
  • Hard to adjust the laser angle
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Plastic
laser pointer
Our Review

Cats can get out all that extra energy by running and chasing a tried and true favorite, the popular laser dot. PetSafe Bolt Laser Toy frees up humans from positioning and holding on to a laser pointer, as the Bolt can sit on the floor or a counter to provide hours of unsupervised fun. The Class Illa laser is powerful but safe, turning off after 15 minutes to both prevent overstimulation and keep the game interesting to kitty. The Bolt can be programmed for random or customized play, and the angle of the laser can be adjusted to encourage either distance running or jumping for maximum exercise benefit. This toy does require 4 AA batteries that cannot be recharged, which will keep adding to the overall cost. Some cats might be turned off by the volume and speed of the machine.

Petlinks Electronic Motion Cat Toy
$15
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
$22
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
6/10
  • What we Like
  • Great for high energy cats
  • Feather wand can be replaced after wear and tear
  • Quiet for a motor toy
  • What we Dislike
  • Motor burns out quickly
  • Playful cats can break this
  • Users have to unscrew the back to install new batteries
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Feather
nylon
Our Review

Cats can’t resist the Petlinks Electronic Motion Cat Toy. Made from recycled plastic, this motion toy appears at first glance to be a simple circle, but the feather toy underneath runs on a motor to mimic the appearance of small prey on the move. Cats play out their hunting instincts at four different speeds which allow guardians to customize the toy to their cat’s preference. The Petlinks Electronic Motion Cat Toy is a great option to burn off energy in kittens and young cats and can also be used to entertain multiple cats at once. The motor is quiet enough not to intimidate cats, and because the feather toy gets a lot of abuse, replacements can be ordered. Unfortunately, the construction of the toy makes it vulnerable to motor burn-out. Because it runs on batteries, users will need to unscrew the back each time the batteries need to be replaced, which is no easy feat.

Best Blanket Toy
SnugglyCat The Ripple Rug
SnugglyCat The Ripple Rug Best Blanket Toy
$46
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
$46
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
7/10
  • What we Like
  • Non-toxic and stain-resistant construction
  • Cats enjoy hiding other toys and playing in the rug
  • Puzzle provides mental stimulation
  • Great option for multiple cat interaction
  • What we Dislike
  • Best for kittens, not adult cats
  • Rug can lose its shape and collapse in on kitty in time
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Recycled fiber mat
Our Review

The RippleRug came into being through a 2015 Kickstarter campaign and was put together using recycled plastic water bottles. Designed to provide enrichment to cats as well as entertainment, the play rug has both ripples and inside tunnels that serve as a place for kitties to scratch and pounce or groom and sleep, depending on each cat’s preferred activity level. The SnugglyCat RippleRug is non-toxic, resistant to stains, and an ideal toy for multi-cat environments. While the rug has a non-slip rubber bottom to prevent movement during cat pouncing, it is prone to losing its shape over time and can collapse during use.

Cat Dancer Deluxe
Cat Dancer Deluxe
$3
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
9/10
  • What we Like
  • Price can’t be beat
  • Simple design encourages hours of playtime
  • Wire mimics natural motion of flying prey
  • One of the few interactive toys that gets cats to jump
  • Withstands rough play
  • What we Dislike
  • Wire can cause injury if cat is left unsupervised
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Steel wire and cardboard
Our Review

The Cat Dancer Deluxe was another runner-up to our winner and serves as the most affordable interactive toy on our list. Few cats can resist the allure of the natural movement of this wire product that mimics either a flying bird or a scurrying mouse when pulled across the floor. The USA-made spring steel wire and rolled cardboard construction is simple but effective at withstanding rough play and keeping kitty’s attention. The Cat Dancer Deluxe is versatile in its appeal ranging from kittens to seniors, solo cats to multiples, and cats preferring stalking to those who want to grab their prey out of the air. The only downside to the wire design is the potential for injury to a cat if left unattended, or to a human who trips on an unseen Cat Dancer Deluxe left on the floor.

Pet Zone Play-N-Squeak MouseHunter Cat Toy with Catnip
Pet Zone Play-N-Squeak MouseHunter Cat Toy with Catnip
$4
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
$5
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
8/10
  • What we Like
  • Squeak sound entices cats
  • Realistic prey appearance helps cats engage in natural hunting behaviors
  • Lightweight toy is easy to toss and kitty can retrieve
  • Catnip is a natural cat attractant
  • What we Dislike
  • Can be hard to produce a squeak sound from the toy
  • Cannot refill catnip
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Plastic
faux fur
Our Review

The Pet Zone Play-N-Squeak MouseHunter mimics the appearance and sound of a real mouse, encouraging a cat’s natural prey drive. Simple in concept and lightweight, this toy is easy for kitty to play with and also gives guardians the ability to interact with their cat by tossing the mouse and letting kitty retrieve it. Cats can pounce, bat, and bite this toy to stay mentally and physically stimulated. Catnip entices kitties and the squeaking sound is an added bonus. The squeak sound isn’t always easy to replicate, however, and once the catnip gets stale, there’s no way to replace it.

PetSafe Funkitty Egg-Cersizer Treat Dispenser Cat Toy
PetSafe Funkitty Egg-Cersizer Treat Dispenser Cat Toy
$6
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
6/10
  • What we Like
  • Holes can be adjusted for different size treats
  • Sturdy toy stands up to rough cats
  • Easy for humans to load treats
  • What we Dislike
  • Large size can be awkward for cats to play with
  • Can be difficult to adjust for right amount of treats to be dispensed
  • Short playtime compared to other types of interactive cat toys
Product Details
Type Food-dispensing toy
Main Material Plastic
Our Review

Use your cat’s love of mealtime to create an interactive play experience with the PetSafe Funkitty Egg-Cersizer, This toy is shaped exactly as described, as a large egg that dispenses treats and kibble on a variable basis to keep kitty guessing. The dispenser can be adjusted based on each cat’s preferred play level with a choice between opening one, two or three holes to range from an easy experience to more of a challenge. The included Treat Meter allows for treat distribution from all angles. Guardians can choose to turn this toy into a slow feeder for improved digestion or weight loss, and it is dishwasher safe for easy and effective cleaning. The Egg-Cersizer appeals to cats of all ages and is user-friendly but will be less physically stimulating than other toys, while also being large enough to make play more difficult for kittens and smaller adults.

Frisco Cat Tracks Butterfly Cat Toy
Frisco Cat Tracks Butterfly Cat Toy
$9
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
8/10
  • What we Like
  • Simple design that is easy to assemble
  • Comes with a replacement butterfly
  • Provides hours of playtime
  • A toy that can be shared by more than one cat
  • What we Dislike
  • The balls don’t always roll smoothly
  • Best suited for kittens and small cats only
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Plastic
wire
Our Review

The Butterfly Track toy from Frisco is described as an amusement park for kitties between its multiple levels, balls to bat, and a fluttering butterfly up top. Cats will have their hunting instinct engaged between the sound and motion of the balls at each level and the “flying” motion provided by the wire-attached butterfly. Multiple levels make this an option for multi-cat play and allow kitties to play without needing human assistance. Nonskid pads keep the toy in place despite rough play, and a replacement butterfly comes with the Frisco Cat Tracks Butterfly Cat Toy for when the first one finally gets taken out by kitty. Be advised that due to the compact size of this track toy, larger cat paws won’t fit well.

Petstages Green Buggin Out Puzzle & Play Interactive Cat Treat Toy
Petstages Green Buggin Out Puzzle & Play Interactive Cat Treat Toy
$20
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
$20
Review manufacturer petco
on petco
7/10
  • What we Like
  • Mentally stimulates cats
  • Provides reward in the form of treats
  • Positive association makes cats willing to return to toy
  • Can be used as a feeder to slow down overeaters
  • What we Dislike
  • Can be difficult for larger sized cats to retrieve treats from openings
  • Construction makes cleaning and drying difficult
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy with option for food-dispensing
Main Material Plastic
Our Review

The Buggin Out Puzzle & Play allows cats to engage their natural hunting and foraging instincts with a puzzle toy that rewards them with treats. The puzzle level can be adjusted as cats become more experienced with the toy, or for those who want to use this option as a feeder to slow speed or increase mental stimulation at mealtime. In addition to treats, this toy made of BPA, PVC and phthalate-free materials safely can hold up to ¼ cup of dry food. Cats may bat at the pegs and swivel the leaves to get to fourteen hidden treat compartments. Be sure to clean food residue quickly before it gets too difficult to get it out of the crevices, and consider a larger toy if your cat isn’t small enough to get his paws inside the compartments.

Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy
Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy
$28
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
9/10
  • What we Like
  • Inexpensive source of play
  • Cardboard center helps kitties safely relieve their scratching urge
  • Reliable ball track keeps toy going
  • Long-lasting
  • Replacements available once cardboard wears out
  • What we Dislike
  • Overeager felines might be able to fish the ball out of the track
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Cardboard
plastic
Our Review

The Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy is a simple but classic offering often found in shelters and foster homes because of its durable nature. Inexpensive, catnip-scented and easy for cats to figure out, this one-level circular track toy features a ball that kitty can bat himself or interact with a human who can tap the ball towards him. The corrugated cardboard center allows cats to scratch and mark their scent, easing tensions in multi-cat homes and allowing kitties to claim territory. Because the cardboard is quickly worn out, replacements may be purchased, though they are sold separately. The toy has non-skid feet to keep it level without tipping over on hard surfaces. Be careful to watch that cats don’t figure out how to remove the heavy ball from the track.

Petstages Chase Meowtain Cat Toy
Petstages Chase Meowtain Cat Toy
$0
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
$25
Review manufacturer petsmart
on petsmart
9/10
  • What we Like
  • No assembly required
  • More levels than other track toys
  • Multiple levels are ideal for multiple cats
  • Simple design is long-lasting
  • Provides hours of repetitive playtime
  • What we Dislike
  • Lightweight toy can be knocked over
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Plastic
Our Review

The Petstages Chase Meowtain Cat Toy outshines its track toy competitors with four levels and four brightly-colored spinning balls, one on each level. The simple design requires no assembly for human supervisors and allows cats hours of repetitive playtime without needing to recharge or replace batteries. With so many levels, more than one cat can join in the fun, and the toy is long-lasting. The Meowtain stimulates hunting behaviors and keeps cats physically active, but it is lightweight and at risk of tipping over under overzealous feline attention.

Hartz Cattraction Silver Vine & Catnip Magic Unicorn Kicker Plush Cat Toy
Hartz Cattraction Silver Vine & Catnip Magic Unicorn Kicker Plush Cat Toy
$5
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
$6
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
8/10
  • What we Like
  • Helps kitties release energy and hunting instinct
  • Kicker toy can redirect inappropriate aggression
  • Small enough to move around the house
  • Good price for a durable toy
  • Silver vine is a cat favorite
  • What we Dislike
  • Can be shredded with repetitive aggressive play
Product Details
Type Hunting-simulation toy
Main Material Nylon
fur
Our Review

Do you have a high energy cat? This plush kicker toy from Hartz can safely redirect aggression away from furniture, human hands, or other pets. The pretty unicorn design comes in more than one color and attracts cats with its prey-like feathers and ribbons, along with its alluring catnip and silver vine. It is small enough to be moved around the house, yet large enough for cats to wrestle, kick and hug, keeping them physically active and satisfying base instincts to hunt prey. The canvas construction is durable enough to withstand most feline abuse, but some aggressive cats still might be able to shred it in time. However, the affordable price will allow owners to order a replacement if it proves to be kitty’s favorite.

Best Products Best Interactive Cat Toy
Product Name Best for Rate
K&H Pet Products Scratch, Ramp & Track Cat Scratcher Toy with Catnip Best Multiple Choice 8
Pet Craft Supply Wiggle Pickle and Shimmy Shark Flipper Best Overall 9
PetSafe Bolt Laser Toy Best Human-Free Laser 6
SnugglyCat The Ripple Rug Best Blanket Toy 7

How to Choose:

We don’t play with our cats just because they’re so adorable. Well, we don’t play with our cats only because they’re so adorable – we also want to keep them getting enough exercise and mental stimulation to thrive in our care. A healthy cat is a happy cat, and a happy cat means a happy home.

Cats suffering from a lack of stimulation often resort to problematic behaviors ranging from loud vocalizations to play aggression that can cause injuries to guardians and other pets. Even if cats have toys to play with, they often require interaction with their humans, too, to truly feel enriched. Not only do they enjoy your company, cats also prefer toys in motion and need you to make things move.

Consider your cat’s energy level, age, size, and personality when evaluating appropriate toy choices. Young, energetic kittens don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to be entertained, but as cats age, it takes more to impress them. You don’t have to buy the most expensive toy on the market to keep up – instead, try adding incentives to old toys like treats or catnip, or simply vary the toys you provide, so your cat doesn’t get bored with the same old things. Hiding familiar toys in new locations also provides your cat with a change of pace.

The most effective play time occurs before feeding. Cats in the wild save their daily energy for a hunt and settle down to nap after a successful meal. Plan for thirty-minute play sessions immediately before a meal so your cat can live out this natural cycle. Cats tend to be most active at night, so don’t be discouraged if your cat would rather sleep the day away then check out the new toy you just bought.

Scratchers

No feline behavior causes more home damage than inappropriate scratching. Few of us indoor cat guardians have all our furniture emerge unscathed throughout the course of our time with our pets. It’s a simple dilemma: cat claws grow and require maintenance, but it’s hard for them to achieve that in an indoor environment. How do we keep our human creature comforts intact while allowing our furry friends to keep their claws healthy?

When a cat scratches, he’s not just trimming down his sharp claws. Cats also use this activity to stretch their muscles and to mark their scent through their paws by releasing pheromones. In the wild, a cat would do this to show off his claimed territory, and our smaller homebound friends are acting much the same as their wild cousins. Marking territory helps a cat feel secure, especially in a new home and in a home with multiple pets.

All our belongings are fair game when a cat is making a territorial claim, so it’s important to provide an appropriate alternative. Each cat is different, with some preferring horizontal to vertical scratchers, while some enjoy carpeted scratching posts and others corrugated cardboard. When in doubt, a scratcher should offer some variety on these preferences to cover all bases, and should always be large enough that a cat can rise up high on his back legs for a complete stretch.

Hunting-Simulation Toys

Before we brought cats into our homes as companion animals, their ancestors lived at the top of the food chain with just one purpose: to hunt prey. We may have mostly domesticated house cats, but they haven’t lost this ancient instinct. Cats who can’t act on their hunting urges can become disruptive or even destructive if they don’t have an outlet for their natural urges.

We can keep our cats mentally stimulated and our homes peaceful by substituting toys for prey. There are a variety of interactive toys that allow cats to plan attacks while also achieving aerobic exercise. Cats respond to visual cues like bright colors and motion, and toys containing prey-like features such as feathers, ribbons, or balls are always a hit. Humans can enhance the effects of these toys by throwing mice up in the air, batting balls around a track toy, or moving a ribbon across the floor to lure cats into stalking, pouncing, kicking, and biting like they would with live prey. If guardians can’t find enough free time to interact with their cats on a daily basis, there are automatic toys on the market designed to be a close substitute.

Treat Dispensing Toys

Cats in the wild have to work for their sustenance, but in a home environment, meals are instantaneous and arrive in a bowl. There is no challenge to achieving the satisfaction of a full belly, and over time, cats can become prone to overeating from boredom. Some cats are also prone to speed-eating, which can lead to stomach upset in addition to weight gain. Treat or kibble dispensing toys can slow down eating while also mentally stimulating cats because they must complete a puzzle in order to receive the reward of food. These food puzzle toys tap into a cat’s natural instincts to hunt and forage and can be used multiple times a day, every day, for maximum effect.