Why are interactive cat toys so important?
Let me tell you:
My cat, Tessa, loves being part of the family and if I’m out, well… she probably gets bored.
The problem is…
A bored cat is an unhappy cat.
That’s why toys are so important!
And that’s why we’re going to have a little chat about some of the best interactive toys out there!
Not to mention…
Exercise is excellent for both Tessa’s physical and mental health.
It’ll help to relieve boredom, stress, builds muscle tone, improves circulation and can reduce or prevent behavioral issues.
So, keeping Tessa from being bored while I’m away from home is essential.
The thing to remember…
Is that to a cat, playing isn’t all fun and games.
Playing helps keeps Tessa’s survival skills of stalking prey, chasing and then trapping it on top of her game.
Even if Tessa never goes outside, the primary hunting instinct will remain strong.
This is why it’s so essential that Tessa has a way to express this natural behavior in the home. (you could build some wall mounted cat stairs too!)
What toys do cats like to play with?
There are all kinds of toys, and you don’t have to break the bank to keep them interested.
There’s an assortment of bright, fun toys but simple, inexpensive toys will keep your cats occupied as well.
Just by placing toys in different places around your home will help to turn your home into a playground.
The video below is a fun one! Stacey shows us a plethora of weird cat toys she bought for her cat Pip:
The toys I recommend from the video:
One thing to keep in mind though, it to check all toys to make sure that they’re safe.
Be sure that the toy can’t be swallowed, which is extremely important if you’re at work.
Check to make sure that there aren’t any:
- small parts
- small parts (which could be mistaken for a treat and eaten.)
If these are ingested, then you will end up taking your kitty to the vet for an emergency appointment.
Tessa wouldn’t let me know it outright, but she loves to pounce and bat moving toys or even rolling toys which are lightweight.
These are fun to hit with her paw, or toys that are filled with catnip can keep her occupied for hours if she has an affinity for it.
Another source of fun is cat trees or furniture which has a combination of activities.
Cat trees can have:
- a jungle gym
- hidey holes
- scratching posts
- perches and many other features which will keep your cats playing for hours. (obviously, these will also help to save your furniture from being scratched.)
7 Types of Cat Toys To Keep Your Cat Entertained While At Work
There are many interactive cat toys that will keep Tessa entertained for hours while I’m gone.
Getting Tessa up and moving is essential and coaxing her natural instincts of stalking and chasing “prey” into play is vital.
Below are some types of toys which might interest Tessa:
🎱 Cat Ball Toys
The movement of a rolling ball on the floor can get a cat moving.
In Tessa’s mind, the ball may mimic the actions of prey animals.
In some ball toys, you can place catnip or a treat to make it more enticing.
The video below shows 3 easy DIY Cat Toys:
Other balls may have a small object or bell in it, so they make a noise to attract your cat’s attention.
One downside, though, is the balls often end up rolling under the furniture and then Tessa can’t get to them.
Some suggestions for ball toys are ping-pong balls, sponge balls, food-dispensing balls, mylar balls and even wadded up paper.
🎱 Food Dispensing Toys
There are many pet owners that permit their cats to have free access to food all the time.
The downside of this is that it can lead to cats overeating and becoming obese.
When a food toy is used, she’ll have to use her mind and natural hunting instincts to get her food.
A food-dispensing toy is also great for a cat who eat too fast plus encourage activity when you’re not present.
Some food dispensing toys that seem to have great reviews are:
🎱 Catnip Toys
Most cats will find catnip to be incredibly stimulating.
When you add this herb to Tessa’s toys or balls, it can increase her enjoyment.
Catnip can be sprinkled in a cardboard box or a paper grocery bag for an intense rolling around in its time.
Tessa can safely digest it too, with the organic catnip being one without any additives.
One word of caution though, catnip is a stimulant and cats become very excited when eating or smelling it.
Don’t pet or rub Tessa until you know her reaction to it because she may end up biting you. (In her case, Tessa does love to be affectionate while playing with catnip – but her sister Lucy, on the other hand, does not!)
Some really fun cat-nip toys – or you can make it yourself!
- El Gato catnip stuffed cigar toy
- Yeowww! banana catnip toy
- OurPets chili pepper catnip toy
- Yeowww! rainbow catnip toy
and this super cute
Don’ forget – most (if not, all) of these toys are refillable!
🎱 Cardboard Boxes
Cats love boxes and Tessaisn isn’t any different.
Whenever you order something online or bring home a product in a clean box, save the box.
You can cut cat-sized holes in the box for added fun of climbing in and out.
The box can become a scratching post, a spot for napping and even playing “peek-a-boo.”
Be sure the holes are big enough, so Tessa doesn’t get stuck in it.
Another idea in this realm would be a cat tent…much nicer looking than a giant old box!
🎱 Paper Bags
Paper bags are just as fun as boxes to a cat.
Tessa can climb inside as well as jumping on it and hearing it rustle. If you place a catnip toy inside of it, she can even hunt as well. The crinkling sound of the paper is enough to entice her to come and play.
🎱 Ping Pong Balls
Another fun toy is ping pong balls and plastic golf balls with holes.
If you put one in a dry bathtub, Tessa may have fun batting it around the tub since it’s “captive.”
You may have to show her how to play with it in the bathtub until she gets the hang of it.
🎱 Automated Cat Toys
Automated cat toys can help to fight boredom in your cat.
Usually, playtime with you can provide hunting stimulation that keeps Tessa safe and rewards her.
But, when she’s by herself, regular cat toys just sit there and don’t act like live prey.
Automated cat toys, however, provide Tessa with a toy that mimics prey behavior without you being involved.
This type of toy has systems which intrigue Tessa with the same actions as birds and mice which has her working on hunting skills.
What’s even better, some of these cat toys can be set to operate at pre-programmed times.
The toys will start moving and interacting with Tessa without you being there.
A tip: one of the best ideas for a cat toy has to be a cat exercise wheel (think giant hamster wheel, but for your cats!)
What kind of automated toys are best for my cat?
Automated toys come in all different shapes, sized and automation.
Hide and seek toys, toys that bounce and move, toys that require your cat to do some working, hunting and capturing.
These are all great ways to keep your cat entertained whether you’re busy at home or out running errands/at work.
But finding the right toy for your cat may take a bit of clever deduction on your part and some experimenting.
Some examples of automated toys are listed below:
Electronic Hide and Seek Mouse Cat Toy:
This toy has a maze of tunnels and a mouse which pops up and hides again.
There are a few different versions of this kind of toy – some with a mouse, some with fuzzy balls that you see in the video below.
The main objective of this kind of toy is to provide your cat with a hide and seek game with whatever toy is interesting to them.
If your cat isn’t a huge fan of ball toys, maybe go for the more realistic mouse toy hide and seek games.
If your cat is always looking for things, hiding or swatting at your feet when they are dangling over your bed – this kind of interactive hide and seek toy may be for her!
Watch the video below to see a fun multi-cat game of hide and seek!
PetSafe Frolicat Flik Pet Toy:
This toy looks like a mouse’s tail that flicks and cats find irresistible.
If your cat is into hunting, stalking and pouncing – they will love this toy!
This toy is also a great idea for an outdoor cat turned indoor cat, as it may remind them of the hunting they were able to do outside!
This and other fun interactive toys from Frolicat are demonstrated in the video below.
SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Concealed Motion Toy:
This toy has movement under a blanket which makes your cat want to pounce on it.
The Hot Pursuit comes with two toy attachments (more can be bought separately) and can be hours of fun for your cat while you’re out of the house.
This kind of toy is great for cats who are interested in playing games and being entertained but aren’t normally super active.
I say this because this game can be played with a cat sitting or laying, swatting at the passing by toys. It can even get your cat interested in being a bit more active with the toy’s speedy or random settings!
See this toy in action in the video below!
Interactive and Automated WANTi Cat Toy:
This toy offers six modes of plays.
It simulates, birds, worms, fish, and mice with a random pattern that will challenge Tessa for a top-notch hunting experience.
If your cat likes hunting various prey and the thrill of the capture – this toy might be for her!
PetSafe Cheese Pet Toy:
This toy is a wedge-shaped piece of cheese with a mouse that will pop out of either side.
If you want to keep Tessa interested, then set the control for the mouse to pop out every two hours when you’re at work.
If your cat gets bored easily, this toy might be for her – you can set this toy to go off every two hours for small intervals.
The toy isn’t left running when Tessa gets bored, but it also provides entertainment at the most random of times.
Hexbug Mouse Robotic Cat Toy:
This mouse walks around on its own in natural walking patterns and changing direction occasionally.
If Tessa would happen to knock it off its feet, it can flip over from it’s back to back on its feet again.
With two play mode (“paw play” and “chase”), you can set the mouse to be more or less intense to suit Tessa’s mood.
Tumbler Interactive Cat Toy:
This interactive toy gives constant stimulation to Tessa with bird-like movement and a laser show.
If the inner compartment is filled with kibble or treats, as the ball moves around, it will dispense some of the pieces of food a few at a time.
This three in one cat toy will entertain her all day while giving her treats and keeping her pouncing and pawing skills sharp!
Watch this toy in action in the video below!
PetSafe Dart Automatic Laser Cat Toy:
This toy offers four speeds, and four-time settings with lets Tessa chase the elusive red dot in random patterns. Endless combinations give endless play sessions.
For more fun and entertaining cat toys, check out some of these products in the video below!
What are the best interactive toys to play with my cat?
Let’s talk about what we can do with Tessa once you’re home from the office!
Of course, interactive toys are fun when you’re not around and give Tessa daily interaction she needs – but playing alongside your pretty kitty once you get home is great, too!
What are some of the best wand-type cat toys?
Cats love wand toys with the chasing, pouncing and capturing of the elusive prey.
Da Bird is probably one of the most known cat wands with attached feathers which swivel. When it flies through the air, it sounds like a bird flapping its wings.
Keeping up with the eco-friendly side of things, Mountain Cat Trees Cat Wand will make Tessa a happy kitty.
A tassel dangles from a natural hardwood dowel that’s thirty-two inches long. The tassel is made from hemp which has been dyed with food coloring.
The tassels are replaceable in case Tessa gets a little too enthusiastic.
The Katarantula has a forty-one-inch long string with a swivel clip, so it attaches easily to the wand.
Tessa will love the wiggly spider legs, and it will inspire many hours of fun playtime.
One thing to note is that most of these toys are made with string and twine and should be played with under supervision.
What toys are unsafe for my cat to be left alone with?
Below is a list of toys that you likely shouldn’t leave Tessa alone to play with while you’re gone.
In fact, many of these toys are just unsafe for cats to play with in general, even under your supervision.
- paper clips
- ribbon dental floss
- rubber bands
- plastic bags
- anything that your cat may chew which would cause problems.
Be sure your cat is first and foremost safe – because there are plenty of wonderful, fun and safe toys made with your cat in mind to choose from!
Matching the toy to your cat…
Cats all have different personalities, and it’s essential to match the toy to your cat’s personality.
There are many types of interactive toys, such as the wand toys to something more complicated with batteries.
If Tessa has a timid nature, buy a toy which is basic and comfortable for her to manage and then conquer.
If Tessa is an athletic and confident cat, you can either choose a basic toy, such as a catnip mouse or bring home something that’s a bit more challenging.
Be sure that the toy on the end of it isn’t too big because you don’t want Tessa to think it’s an opponent.
Hunting for her is mental as much as it is physical.
For playtime to be most beneficial in terms of trust-building, stress-relieving, and building confidence, she has to be able to plan what moves she’s going to make.
She needs not to become frustrated and have successful captures.
If she never captures her prey, she won’t find it much fun.
How to keep your cat entertained in a small apartment…
When you live in an apartment, keeping your cat entertained can be a bit challenging. We’ve talked a lot about how to keep your indoor cat happy – but doing so in a small setting can have a whole new set of challenges.
Plus, a cat which is bored may start to develop behavior problems like waking you up in the middle of the night or aggression.
Even though cats are one of the more lower maintenance pets, they still need some activity an entertainment every day.
So, making your apartment more fun for Tessa while you’re gone so she can entertain herself.
Below are some ideas to help make your residence more cat play friendly…
- High vantage points:
Tessa will love to sit in a high vantage point surveying your apartment as her domain.
Sitting up high is one of the survival instincts which is deeply embedded within all cats.
You can let her have this advantage with something as simple as shelves.
Attach shelves to your walls at different heights for her to lounge.
Another place which may become a favorite spot is on top of the refrigerator when you’re in the kitchen making supper.
- Window sills:
A window may just be a window for you, but to Tessa, it’s cat TV.
It can provide hours of watching people, birds, and clouds plus all the sounds to stimulate her hunting instinct.
But, you have to make sure your window ledge is wide enough for lounging.
You can purchase hanging cat perches, some with toys attached, to make her day a little more interesting.
- Private spaces:
Another thing that Tessa will need in your apartment is her own private space.
Buying an enclosed cat bed will give her a cozy spot to call her own.
Plus, many of the beds with attached toys to make her time before her nap a little more fun.
How to get a lazy kitty to get up and play!
If you’re worried that Tessa is getting a little on the lazy side, what can you do to get her moving?
When you aren’t home, try buying a toy with a personality. There are toys which chirp or squeak when they are picked up or carried.
Also, battery operated toys which move on their own are an invitation to chase for her.
Toys which look as if they’re moving under blanket and ones which respond to movement or sound are also excellent toys for getting Tessa to move.
Another option is using one of the food balls, mentioned above, to trick Tessa to get her food.
Because she has to actively interact with the ball, she gets exercise and the reward of food. She’ll have to push the ball around the floor to make the food fall out of it so she can eat the treat.
Frequently Asked Questions:
⚙ Why is it important to encourage my cat to play? It’s important to encourage your cat to play because it keeps her happy, healthy and fit.
It improves her agility, stamina, muscle tone, and strengthens the bond between the two of you.
⚙ Why should I be careful when giving my cat catnip? You should be careful when giving your cat catnip until you know how it affects her.
If your cat is overstimulated, she could bite or scratch you. (Which is what happens to our youngest, Lucy).
Not all cats like catnip – although it’s considered to be a calming thing for most, some cats actually react the opposite and can become irritable.
⚙ Why are ball toys attractive to cats? Ball toys are attractive to cats because the movement of the ball mimics prey animals and entice your cat to chase it.
⚙ What type of materials are used in cat toys? For the feel of a toy, materials of wool, fleece, and fur. The material for sounds are bells, electronic chirps, and crinkly materials. For sight, materials which are feathery, fluttery, moving parts and lights. Smell and taste are fur and added flavors such as fowl, beef, catnip, fish, and catnip, etc.
⚙ Should I adopt another cat to keep mine company?
Answer: It could be an excellent answer to your problem of keeping your cat from becoming bored.
But adopting another cat is a big step, so you had better be sure if you’re going to do it.
Making a visit to the local animal shelter or getting in touch with an animal rescue is the best place to find a cat to meet your needs.
Keeping your cat from becoming bored is essential because of needing health and mental stimulation.
But, having enough interactive toys could be the answer to the problem.
Cat Toys (Pets/WebMD)
Cat Toy Tips (Humane Society)
Playtime for Your Cat (Vet Street)
Interactive Therapy for Cats (Behavior Associates)
Keep Your Cat Entertained (Pet Secure)
5 Ways to Entertain Your Cat (Trupanion)
How to Make a Small Apartment Fun for Cat (Apartment Therapy)
Get Lazy Cats Moving (Cat Vills)
Automated Cat Toys (Cat Site)
Wand Cat Toys (Catster)