The World of Cat Tunnels (and why your cat wants one!)

As the saying goes, “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”

But if Jack’s a cat, that lack of play can cause a lot more problems than just making him simply ‘dull’.

We try to find ways to make our cats happy, especially if they are left alone while we’re at work or running errands and having toys, tunnels and games for your cat to have regular playtime is important!

At a glance, our favorite tunnel types for our 4 cats is the Feline Ruff 4 Way Cat Tunnels(check out the dimension over at Amazon) You’ll like these because they are extra long and extra large for those biggin’ snuggly kitties.

If this is too much tunnel for you then you can easily get the 3 way, which also has shorter tunnel length.

 

cat tunnel cat tube angry cat
Cat tunnel play takes serious concentration… I must focus.

First Question: So, What is the Best Cat Tunnel?

This is, of course, based on the preference of you and your cat but we have a few suggestions for the number one tunnel system out there. 

Best Basic Cat Tunnel: SmartyKat Hideout Tunnel

I love this tunnel because it’s basic but large, so there is tons of room to play!

Something to keep in mind with this tunnel is its size – you may need a bigger play area (but it also maximizes the fun!)

Best Play Tunnel: Purrfect Feline Crinkle Cat Toy Tunnel

If pouncing, heart-pounding play is your goal – this is the tunnel for your kitties! With crinkle noises and cat toys dangling from each entrance – this FOUR WAY cat tunnel will have your cats running, leaping, playing and pouncing all day! 

Best DIY Cat Tunnel Idea: Modern Transparent DIY Cat Tunnel 

We may have already talked about this one in this post, but being made from transparent wrapping plastic, this tunnel is both easy for you and fun for your cats.

I love that it’s completely clear and see-through – meaning your cats have full view of their world around them while inside the tube. This makes it really fun for “hunting” their favorite toys on the other side of the tube! 

Best Outdoor Cat Tunnel: ABO Gear Kitty Compound

Again, one we have already talked about in this post but we just can’t say enough good things about it. The reviews speak for themselves and this outdoor cat compound is perfect for your cats outdoor adventures. 

Best Small Cat Tunnel: Pet Palace Comfy Plush Tunnel 

What cat doesn’t love laying in a plushy, comfortable spot? And what cat doesn’t like tunnels!?
Here we have the best of both – a comfy plush cat tunnel that is the size of a cat bed! 

Great for apartments, living rooms or small spaces! 

Best Large Cat Tunnel: Rainbow Pop Cubes and Cat Tunnel 

This is more than just a cat tunnel – it’s a cat cube tunnel fun play palace!

Combining two of the things cats love (playing and small spaces to lay in) – this cube and tunnel set has everything your cat could need for hours of fun! 

Our cats need regular play for a wide variety of reasons…

Here are a few ways playtime is beneficial for your cat:

  • relieves the boredom that can lead to destructive vices (like scratching up the sofa.)
  • relieves natural aggressive tendencies that would otherwise come out in less pleasant ways (like attacking their kitty brother or sister.)
  • lowers blood pressure
  • prevents obesity
  • makes every feline a happier and healthier kitty

And what playtime is complete with some paw-some cat tunnels!! 

This video below shows the 3-way tunnel and how to collapse it:

 

Playing with your kitty is also a great way to bond with your feline roommate while also relieving stress and tension for us.

But aside from the:

…many of us aren’t sure what else a cat enjoys playing with. So, what is another great toy that your cat will love and actually regularly use?

Let’s dive into the world of cat tunnels!!

Cat Tunnels: Toys for Kitties of All Ages, Shapes & Sizes

When you think of things that cats love, what comes to mind?

Most cats love comfortable areas with:

Most cats love to play and explore and genuinely enjoy an opportunity to try something new, on their own terms, of course.

So it comes as no surprise that most cats adore tunnels…

Because of this:

There are many, many options on the market with a huge variety of types, colors, sizes, uses and so much more. 

You can even use these to transition to a cat ladder!

Determining which play tunnel is right for your cat is best approached by thinking of your cat’s specific needs, and what you (the human) want to accomplish with their new toy.

Until recently, space was a huge issue for us (as in, we had none!) so we often opted for collapsable cat tunnels that didn’t take up much space

However.

Now that we’re moving into a bigger house and will have much more room for the cats to play, we’re looking for more sturdy, fun, and extended cat tunnels.

The kind of tunnel also depends very much on your cat(s) personalities, too!

Each cat has their own unique personality, so you may end up buying a few different tunnels for a few different cats in your home… (the more the merrier, right?!)

Some cats seemingly:

  • live to cause trouble (especially at night).
  • others only wish to have their ears rubbed.
  • or be hand fed filet mignon all day long.

Some cats are absolute pranksters, and love to jump out are “frighten” their humans, where others are happiest passing the day sleeping among the numerous pillows on our bed.

It’s because of the wide variety of kitty personalities that there need to be such a wide variety of cat toys and tunnels for our pampered pets.

It’s easy to think of cat tunnels being a toy for only the feline wild-child who love to jump, chase, pounce and rattle crinkly things into the wee hours of the night.

Cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett highly recommends cat tunnels for not only the playful puss, but for the shy and insecure ones, as well. [1]

If your feline friend regularly hides under the bed and prefers to remain as unobtrusive as possible, they may have confidence and fear issues that prevent them from coming out in the open.  [2]

Having tunnels that come part of the way out in to the interior of a room gives them the opportunity to explore without feeling too exposed.

Soon, your kitties will be playing and having as much fun as these cats in the video below!

 

The more time they spend away from the walls and other hiding zones, these fearful felines will realize they are safe in their habitat and will become increasingly more secure in their surroundings.

It won’t happen overnight, but tunnels allow frightened felines to dip their toes into uncharted territory one step at a time.

Eventually, they will reach the end of the tunnel, and one day, you may see tiny toes peeking out as they take their first steps into the great unknown.

Given ample time, these frightened kitties will build confidence that will make them much happier pusses in the long run.

It also gives cats a chance to get comfortable and have fun with each other (as you can see in the video above). 

So, now that we know that all cats can benefit from tubular playtime, let’s get down to business determining which kitty tunnel is right for your feline friend.

Second Question: Indoor OR Outdoor Cat Tunnel?

When searching for where to start with your search, you can ask yourself:

  •  Where you will set it up?

After you’ve determined where, you need to determine which one.

When looking online, the options seem nearly infinite.

So let’s try to narrow this down.

cat in outdoor cat tunnel cat veteran

Outdoor Cat Tunnels: 

If your kitty has a taste for the great outdoors but you’re worried about predators and other outdoor health concerns, then a fully-enclosed predator-proof tunnel is a great way to get your kitty some safe outside time.

Outdoor tunnels give your cat a great way to have a taste of the outdoors but still be safe. But always supervise your cats while outside with these types of tents… they might be able to get out or use their nails to claw their way out.

This outdoor kitty compound from ABO Gear received great reviews for its easy assembly and sturdy frame and mesh.

 

So, let’s talk about outdoor cat tunnels for a minute:

  • Outdoor cat tunnels can be great if you already have a catio set up, or if your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat
  • One of the most important things you want to consider the area and ask some questions (will it rain a lot here, how do I protect the cat tunnel from damage, is it easily accessible to my cats, etc). 
  • And, if this is your first outdoor cat enclosure, you may want to try a less expensive option to start to make sure your puss really wants that outdoor experience.

Some companies, like Catbitats, offer a wide range of custom mad tunnels and outdoor catwalks built of strong wire mesh that can be put together in a wide variety of options.

From catwalks to catios, Catbitats (think cat habitat) are designed for safe outdoor respite time for otherwise indoor dwelling kitties.

 

For less adventurous cats or those kitties content to just snooze in the grass, there are smaller and less expensive options available (such as the indoor cat tunnels from above), as well as options for cats that live in condos and apartments.

All of these are designed with options like kitty doors, so your cat can come and go as they please.

Many of them have shelter from inclement weather, as well as other options like hammocks, feed and water stations.

Although there are cheaper options out there for outdoor tunnels, general feedback from purchasers are they don’t last long and have a tendency to fall apart easily.

As this is not as sturdy as an enclosure made with wire, supervised pet play only is strongly encouraged with these types of models.

How to make an outdoor cat tunnel?

For those of you that are handy with hammer and nail, there are YouTube videos and other instructions on how to build your own outdoor cat tunnels and enclosures.

Below is a great video by “Self Sufficient Me” that details how to build a cat run and enclosure including a pet door and what materials they used:

If you are capable of quality construction, building a DIY outdoor kitty habitat can save you lots of money. (We’ll talk more about this later!)

But if you are like me and are more likely to hit my thumb with a hammer rather than the nail, it might be best to leave the construction to the professionals.

The last thing you want is for Fluffy to get hurt by an incorrectly constructed cat condo.

Indoor Cat Tunnels: 

If your cat is terrified of the great outdoors, then an indoor model will suit their needs perfectly.

Interior-use tunnels come in a huge assortment of materials, colors and textures.

From the crinkly plastic tubes to plush fabric lined cylinders, I can almost guarantee there is an option for even the finickiest feline!

black cat waiting hunting cat cat veteran

Before determining which one to get, look at the space in your home where you want to locate the play tunnel.

Here are some things about indoor cat tunnels to consider:

  • So, indoor cat tunnels are great – but will likely end up in storage if you don’t actually have the space for it. 
  • You want to think about adding cat tunnels into your living room in ways that will least inconvenience you (such as creating DIY cat tunnels with furniture or buying furniture made with you and your cats in mind.)
  • However – you also want to place the cat tunnel in an area that your cat will actually feel comfortable using it, so keep that in mind, too! 

If it’s in a dedicated kitty play room, or a large area, you may want to splurge on a longer option, or maybe even get a few different types for different activities.

If you are tight on space, you may want to look at options that are easily collapsible so you can remove them when not in use or if you are having guests.

Third Question: What Size Cat Tunnel Do I Need!?

Also, this is a good time to look at the size of the kitties that will be using the play tunnel.

Take our Cat Veteran leader, Toki, for instance:

2 of her cats, Bubs, who is easily 16 pounds, Coo Coos who is a mini-kitty and weighs in at 9 pounds…

If she were to buy a tunnel based on Coo Coo’s size, Bubs wouldn’t be able to fit his head into it.

In this case, she would need to buy a tunnel based on Bubs’s size if the goal was for both kitties to be able to play in the tunnels.

Luckily, they do make tunnels for the “huskier” puss, so even our larger kitty friends don’t have to miss out on the fun!

On the flip side, Bubs and Coo Coo don’t always get along.

Having an option where the little girl can hide out and know Bubs can’t bother her has made her a much happier cat as she feels much safer in her little hiding zones.

As she is also one for plush fabrics, she loves the feel of fleece, and also loves the crinkly noises of plastic and paper bags.

With all that in mind, the Kitty Cat Tunnel by Easyology (video below!) is the perfect tunnel for her specific needs.

 

Fourth Question: Can I DIY This!?

Oh yes, yes you can!!! I alluded to this about with the outdoor tunnels.

For the DIYers out there, the indoor cat tunnel is much easier to build than an outdoor one.

Something as simple as cutting holes in a cardboard box or taping together a bunch of paper bags and reinforcing them to keep them perpetually open is an extremely easy and inexpensive way to use household items as cat toys.

Below is a super simple way to make a tunnel:

Sure, they won’t last nearly as long as fabric or nylon tunnels, but when they are that inexpensive, you don’t mind if you have to construct a new one when the old one has seen its final use.

You can also use this stuff to make some cat stairs!

Here are a few ideas!

DIY Cat Tunnel with a Sweater!!
(Level: super duper easy!)

The idea behind this one in simple – turn one of your old sweaters into a cat tunnel  using just a few products!

The inside of the tunnel can be constructed of foam or cardboard:

 

Totally Transparent Tunnel
(Level: medium difficulty, maximum payoff!)

This tunnel excites your cat in a variety of different ways, as the tunnel is clear and lets your cat see obstacles, toys or “prey” through the walls – it also makes sound when she pounces through it! 

Click through to this video and scroll down to the description box to see how this see through wrapping plastic tunnel was made!


From-Here-to-There Functional Tunnel System

(Level: Super difficult but also super awesome!)

Tunnels aren’t just for playing – some are functional!

If you have space, time, patience, wire and wood – you can make something like this!

 

Fifth (and final) Question: Should I Get a Cat Tunnel for My Cats?

Our take on it?

Absolutely

Not only will this be endless fun for your cat, but you can make cat tunnels interactive (for you and your cat, or for your cats to play together with each other).

As we’ve covered, there are different tunnels to fit all cats and all house spaces; super wide tunnels for the kitty who is a bit bigger, and collapsable ones for the living room that seems to be shrinking – you can (and should) find the cat tunnel that suits you and your cat’s needs!

Cat tunnels really are the ultimate all purpose toy.

White Cat cat veteran

From playtime to nap-time, a way to enjoy the adventures of the great outdoors or to slowly accustom a shy cat to a new home, cat tunnels are an enrichment tool that all cats can enjoy.

With all the tunneling options available, there is no reason for

Jack to be dull, bored or cranky, as there really is a tunnel for cat and every purpose under the sun.

Sources:

[1] Cat Behaviour Associates – How to Use Cat Tunnels

[2] Cat Behaviour Associates – About

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