Best Toys for Cats: Complete Guide

In addition to being great fun, there are many reasons to invest in a range of toys for your favourite feline. The most popular cat toys have a myriad of benefits – but there are so many to choose from that it can be overwhelming to find the best toys for cats that suit your feline – particularly if you are a new cat owner!

My Complete Guide will take you through why cats need toys, what the major benefits of play are for cats, factors to consider before buy a cat toy and the different types of cat toys on the market.

British blue cat chewing red ball of threads

Best Toys for Cats: Why do Cats Need Toys?

1. To exercise their hunting instincts

It is easy to forget that toys – for both animals and humans – are so much more than just fun items. Top cat toys are designed to stimulate development and curiosity.

Almost every cat toy on the market has been designed in some way to help cats work through their natural hunting instincts. If cats aren’t able to exercise these instincts they can become stressed and anxious – and they may feel the need to head out and gather their own prey. There are few cat owners who appreciate a fresh kill being brought into their home!

kitten and pink mouse

These instincts are completely natural and part of your cat’s genetic makeup – plus they would have been taught these skills as kittens by their mothers. It is best to accept that whilst your cat is domesticated it is still an animal and like all of us will be happiest being able to be its true self!

Toys are a great way for your cat to act out its hunting instincts. As such, when you are looking to buy the best cat toys look for those that most clearly mimic the elements of the hunt.

These elements can include toys that can be moved away from your cat to mimic prey trying to escape, toys that allow cats to work through a puzzle to get to their prey, interactive cat toys that will move when pounced on etc.

Remember, as cats are acting out their hunting instincts they will also use these instincts when the game is finished. This is why cats will place their toys in their water bowls, beds or hide them. They are seeking to protect their prey from other predators so they can play with it again later on.

⇒ Don’t miss my guide on how to choose Clothing for Cats, the Best Gifts for Cats, and my Cat Planner for photo opportunity planning!

Grey tabby plays with plush mouse

2. Cats get bored easily

We all know that our cats are clever and that cats inherently seek new and interesting challenges and items. This is why they will often tire of treats and even good cat toys quickly.

Sure cats look like they are happiest just lying around and sleeping for most of the day but they need stimulation. Without it expect behavioural problems to kick in.

Toys are important as they are one of the easiest ways to keep your cat entertained and to prevent these problems from occurring.

⇒ About to become a fur parent? Check out my Complete Guide to How to Look After a Kitten.

3. To prevent them from turning your things into play items

Cats are quite creative. If you don’t provide them with things to stimulate them they will develop their own games. Unfortunately, these may often include items that you would prefer that they didn’t play with and damage.

black and white cat and white scratching post

Rather than having your cat turn one of your favourite chairs into their own scratching post or consistenly jumping up and knocking things off your shelves, toys will provide them with their own stimulation and keep them away from human items.

⇒ Don’t miss my guide to buying Cat Walking products, the 7 Best Escape Proof Cat Harness options and the Best Carrier for Cats.

4. For a Workout

We all know how much our kitties like to sleep and how much they love treats. Combine these two things without exercise and you are looking at a potentially fat cat and the very serious issue of cat diabetes.

Playing is great exercise for cats. Interactive toys for cats that mimic the hunt will require your cat to jump, pounce, run and get its heart rate up and works their muscles.

Playing tabby cat in white basket with toy. Studio shot against grey.

Also, providing toys for your cat is a great fat free alternative to treats. Toys can be just as effective in encouraging good behaviours and preventing poor ones.

Benefits of Play for Cats

1. Play helps your cat’s joints and muscles

In addition to keeping your cat trim, play is good for your cat’s joints and muscles. Your cat’s agility comes from its flexiblity and elasticity. Play – particularly that which mimics hunting behaviour – is great for getting the blood flowing through your cat’s joints and keeping them in good shape.

2. Playtime helps with Bonding

Playing with your cat is a great way to build your relationship with her. The time spent together on an activity that your cat so much enjoys will increase your bond with her.

⇒ For everything you need to know about taking care of your finicky feline check out my guide to How to Groom a Cat, the Best Cat Brush, Caring for Cats guide and my quick cat check up guide.

cute kitten playing with colourful toy

Things to Think about before buying a cat Toy

1. Solo Play

Does the toy require you or another person to engage your cat or is it something that it can play with on its own? Ideally your cat will have a mix of both solo and joint toys so that you can bond through playing together but it has toys to keep it entertained when you’re not available.

And remember to regularly check on your cat’s favourite battery-operated toys. You don’t want them running out when you’re not around and leaving your cat bored and frustrated.

grey cat with colourful feather toy

2. Safety

Cat toys are not regulated in the same way as toys are for children. They may not be safe for your cat to chew for example. Also, try to avoid toys with small parts or elements which will easily loosen. These can be eaten by your cat and cause chocking or wreak havoc with their digestive system if swallowed.

Be particularly careful with the toys you leave for your cat to entertain themselves when you are not around. Avoid small parts and be careful with toys with strings etc that could get caught up in your cat’s paws or worse.

Always read the label and follow the instructions and your protective cat parenting instincts.

⇒ Check out my guides to the Best Cat Products and the Best Cat Litter

3. Durability

Cats can be demanding toy owners! Some toys just won’t last as long as others as they will naturally invite your cat to chew or scratch them. So if you can avoid spending much money on these items.

Cat toys containing catnip will only appeal to your cat for a certain period of time as the effect of the catnip will wear off.

For those toys that are more durable or that appeal to your cat’s less destructive side, it can be worth making more investment.

British cat and toy fish

4. Space

Don’t forget to think about how much room you have and where all those toys are going to stay in your home! There are some brilliant larger cat toys that your cat would probably love.

However, most people don’t want a home that is filled with cat toys so think about where you will be able to store them and where the cat will be able to play with them before making a purchase.

Also, if you can avoid toys that have loose parts or you may end up searching your home for balls for hours!

⇒ Check out my guides to the best treats for cats, high-calorie cat food and a complete cat feeding guide wet and dry food.

5. Fitness

Toys and play can be a great way for your cat to get some exercise. Where possible look to buy toys that will require your cat to be active. This will help to prevent weight gain issues or help to manage them if they are already in place.

6. Broader Benefits

Many cat toys come with an element that means they can help your cat in other ways. For example, scratching based toys help your kitty to maintain its claws. Other items like cat chew toys can encourage good dental health in your cat.

Adult tabby in christmas gift bag

7. Your Cat’s Preferences

You know better than anyone what types of activities and things that your cat enjoys. Think about what their needs and desires are so you don’t end up with a toy that is seldom used.

Different types of Cat Toys

Every cat is unique and comes with their own preferences – I am sure that your cat has indicated what it does and doesn’t like. Understanding your cat is key to buying a toy that it will love.

Also, your cat’s preferences will change over time. Kittens will prefer toys that allow them to be very active – which will appeal less to an older cat. But cats will always need toys!

1. Catnip Toys

Catnip contains a unique oil that the majority of cats love. Apparently it impacts on the central nervous system and creates an extremely strong sense of happiness in cats.

Catnip won’t have an effect on cats until they are at least six months old so these aren’t good as kitten toys. Once your cat is old enough to enjoy catnip the effects normally only last between five and fifteen minutes.

Orange cat sniffing dried catnip

Catnip is safe but it is possible to over do it to the point that the catnip has no effect on your cat. Keep catnip toys to 1-2 times a week to keep the thrill fresh for your kitty.

Many cat toys contain catnip. But before you buy one for your kitty do make sure they are not part of the small minority who are not so fond of catnip. Here are some of the best catnip toys for cats:

Octopus Cat Nip Toys

Crocheted and Soft

These super cute Octopus toys contain fiber and catnip. And they can be personalised to whatever colour you choose

Colourful Felt Catnip Toys

Mice & Fish

These colourful soft toys are about 15cm long and 4cm wide. Colours can be customised and cats love the texture

2. Electronic Cat Toys

There are many different options for electronic cat toys. These range from toys with lasers to electronic mice who can run around for your cat to chase. Electronic toys like this which mimic behaviour in the wild can be very satisfying for your cat.

Dancing Fish Toy

Endless Fun for your Kitty!

High quality durable toy that is healthy and safe for your cat. Fish shape increases appeal – one of the best toys for cats home alone

Petfusion Ambush

Interactive Toy

A colorful feather will pop out from one of the 6 holes at random, using LED color lighting and motion to draw your cat in. 

3. Feather Teaser Cat Toys

Feather toys feature, well, feathers. They are often at the end of a long pole or string. The feathers are there to mimic a bird – favourite kitty prey. These toys have the greatest appeal when you, their savvy slave, is operating them and making your kitty pounce.

These are great cat toys for indoor cats as they will get them moving and exercising.

Glam N Glitz Teaser

CattyLicious Gifts

I love these bright and sparkly kitty wands. They come in bright colours and also have little silver bells for sounds

Percy Parrot Realistic Toy

Tiga Toys

Percy is a feather toy configured to spin through the air simulating a flying bird and for your cat look and sound like the real thing! 

Do be careful with feather toys though as ingesting the feather would be unpleasant for your cat and could irritate hairball issues.

4. Wand Cat Teaser Toys

Wand cat toys can be almost like a fishing rod. The “bait” can be any number of items. The point of the wand toy is to move the item around and allow your cat to chase it. The distance is good for both the cat and the human as it minimises the risk of injury.

Cat Wand Birds

CattyLicious Gifts

This luxury fishing wand comes with 5 different detachable teaser heads to keep your cat entertained for days!

Squiggly Worm Wand

5 Piece Set

The rope-like, woven nylon string ensures long-lasting play and the easy-to-use clasp makes it a cinch to swap wigglers

grey cat on back legs with flicker toy

5. Cat Puzzle Toys

Cat puzzle toys tend to hold some type of treat and require the cat to figure something out in order to gain the treat. These cool cat toys are a great way to use treats as they can take the cat some time to solve so not many treats are required for a good play session.

Puzzle Feeder

Birch Wood

With this cat feeder, mealtimes are a game of cat and mouse where your kitty has to paw and hunt to earn her dinner. 

Cat Activity Board

5 in 1 Strategy Game

Interactive game featuring five different challenges to stimulate your cat’s senses. Fish bowl style globes, pegs, alley, tongue and tunnel 

No matter type of hunting mimic toy you choose for your cat do remember that it is important that your cat is allowed to “win” at times. If they don’t they will become frustrated and lose interest in the toy – and it can cause them to become stressed.

6. Homemade Cat Toys

Don’t forget that your cat will also be entertained by many common household items. These include the class ball of yarn although only allow your cat to play with yarn or string when you are around as they can easily get caught up in it.

Cute kitten playing red clew of thread on artificial green grass

Most cats love cardboard boxes and bags and hanging out in them. So your amazon delivery driver may become a cat favourite!

Cats can also love gardens and find different spots to snuggle or choose to play with your plants and trees – another one to watch to ensure your garden doesn’t end up looking like it has been attacked!

tabby siberian cat sits on brown paper bag
tabby siberian cat sits on brown paper bag

Cat toys are a great way to keep your cat entertained, provide some time for you and your cat to bond and to help it enact its natural instincts to hunt for prey. There are so many cat toys on the market. I hope my guide has helped you to make the right cat toy decisions for your feline.

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through on most of the links and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. This will not effect the price that you pay. I wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.

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