Is your cat destructive, loud, aggressive, overweight or just plain lazy? Try an interactive cat toy to keep your cat active and prevent boredom.
Cats are incredibly social creatures, and providing a stimulating environment is essential for preventing unhealthy and negative behaviours.
Cats also sleep a lot, and that’s normal, but don’t mistake your cat’s frequent napping habits for them wanting to be left alone. Cats react to their environment, so if you want to shed some weight off of your chunky cat, make their surroundings more exciting!
Cats need both physical and mental stimulation, using both solo and interactive methods. With so many different cat toys on the market, it’s easy to encourage some extra energy out of your cat.
Solo Play Toys
Even though they require a lot of attention, cats do still appreciate their alone time. Outside of the 12-16 hours a day that they spend snoozing, they still have up to 12 hours to fill with activities. Of course, you can’t spend all 12 hours playing with your cat, so you need to provide activities for your cat when left alone.
Take a peek at some of the best types of mentally stimulating toys for cats for solo playtime.
Automatic Laser Cat Toys
Automatic laser cat toys for active cats are a good option for both physical and mental stimulation. Most automatic cat toys are meant for short-term entertainment and will have an auto shut-off feature to prevent over-stimulation. Our favourite automatic laser toy is the PetSafe FroliCat Bolt Automatic Laser.
This toy will have your cat running, jumping, and pouncing, encouraging short bursts of very high energy. Position this toy in an open area, and turn it on. The laser will move sporadically around the room to encourage your cat to hunt down the erratic red dot.
Hanging Cat Toys
Toys that cling to windows, or hang from doorknobs are great for giving your cat a chance to land a good old-fashioned surprise attack. The Kong Window Cling Teaser is filled with catnip and makes crinkly noises to keep your cat coming back for more. The Window Cling Teaser attaches to any smooth surface with a durable suction cup, making it a versatile toy no matter what space your cat is in.
For bigger or highly active cats, try finding more challenging places to put the toy to increase their activity levels.
Track Toys for Cats
Catit Senses has cornered the market for circuit track toys. Their full line includes 3 interlinking styles with unique features to keep your cat curious and engaged. The Catit Senses 2.0 Super Circuit is our first choice; It’s a combination of the wave and speed circuits to give your cat fast diverse movements to chase and stalk.
Catit also makes an LED ball to use in place of the standard ball, called the Catit Senses Fireball 2.0. The bright light will help keep your cat focused on its target for longer playtime. Add Catnip or treats to get lazier cats more excited about circuit toys.
Slow Feed Cat Toys
The Be One Breed IntelliKatt Interactive Cat Feeder is a multi-stage bowl/toy/puzzle, and it's perfect for keeping your kitty occupied and stimulated. Use it for full meals, snacks, or playtime. The Intellikat can improve digestion, and reduce bloat and regurgitation by slowing down your cat while she eats.
Even better, it's a great way to make mealtime fun and exciting.
Multiple levels of difficulty will teach your cat to think outside the box to figure out how to paw their kibbles or favourite treats out of the unique slow feeder design.
Catit Senses also makes three styles of slow feed toys, the Digger, the Treat Puzzle, and the Food Tree. Different shapes and holes keep the struggle real, all while slowing them down and providing mental stimulation.
Check out The Best Cat Puzzle Toys for even more fun ideas and mentally stimulating cat toys games to engage your cat.
Kicker Cat Toys
If you've ever noticed your cat wrestling their favourite toy to the ground, holding it with their front paws and wildly kicking with their back, then we have just the toy to keep your cat excited. The Catit Groovy Fish is a motion-activated toy that wiggles and squirms, giving your cat the experience of hunting a real live fish.
It's also great for cats that seem to easily get bored with typical plushy cat toys. The blend of movement and catnip will stimulate your cat's hunting instincts.
Interactive Play Toys
Interactive play toys are a great way to bond with your kitty; You’re more than just a litter box cleaner and a food dispenser. Connecting with your cat through interactive playtime is the perfect way to improve your cat’s socializing skills.
Playing with hands can encourage rough play like scratching and biting. Using toys instead helps instill safer and more appropriate play behaviours. Here are some of the best ways to encourage one-on-one interactive playtime.
Wands and Teasers
Wands come in all shapes and sizes, so choose the style that best suits your cat's size and play habits. Some wands use feathers or ribbons that can easily detach during playtime, so make sure your cat isn’t trying to eat any of these pieces.
Wands, like the Mad Cat Cookies and Milk Wand, are great for fast high-energy playtime, and it encourages physical activity in you too. A half-hour of intense wand play will have you and your kitty ready for a catnap. We recommend trying a couple of styles to see which ones really catch your cat’s attention.
You can look for wands that make crinkle or rattling noises to really get your cat excited. It's important to let your cat win sometimes too. It can be frustrating in they never catch their prey, so occasionally allowing your cat to snag the bait will help them feel like the fierce hunters that they are.
Fetch and Chase Toys
Fetch and chase can be played with just about anything, but getting a lazy cat to run after the average cat toy can be difficult. Try out the Kong Active Bubble Ball. This plushy fetch-and-chase cat toy is perfect for cats that love to chase.
It's a ball within a ball that encourages high-energy playtime and fetching and lets your cat explore her natural hunting instincts.
The long tail makes it easy to pick up and throw and provides a multi-sensory experience. It's also stuffed with Kong American catnip to further encourage playtime.
Laser toys can be used for interactive play with cats too. Hand-held laser toys, like the Kong Cat Active Laser Toy, are small and inexpensive, so they are a staple in many households. Remember to keep playtime in short bursts to not overwork your cat.
We recommend no more than 10-15 minutes at a time before a rest period. Be very careful to never shine the laser into your cat’s eyes, or your own for that matter.
There are some valid concerns regarding the use of laser toys. It’s a game that they can't win, and that can be frustrating for your kitty. Redirecting their frustration to you or another animal in the house is possible.
Pro Tip: Try finishing a game of laser chasing by tossing a treat on the ground and shining the laser on it. When your kitty “catches” the red dot, they will find a reward. Immediately turn off the laser toy as to not shatter the illusion.
Cat tunnels, like the AFP Find Me Cat Tunnel, can be used in combination with all of the other interactive toys above. They add a hiding place when your cat is preparing to pounce and can be used to play puzzle games by concealing toys or treats.
Plus, they can be a super comfortable place for your cat to hang out when he’s all pooped from playtime. The P.L.A.Y. Purr & Pounce Tunnel is super soft and comes with a fuzzy mouse attachment with a hidden pouch for catnip.
Tunnels are also great for multi-pet households. Sometimes they just get sick of their siblings and want a place to be alone and relax.
Always choose toys that are safe to leave with your cat unsupervised. Avoid toys small enough to be a choking hazard, as well as toys that can break or crack easily. Toys should be appropriately sized to be safe.
Big cats need big toys to stand up to their rougher play. These toys are intended to keep your cat occupied and stimulated both mentally and physically.
None of these toys are meant for chewing, and you should never leave your cat alone with a toy that you fear they may try to consume. A safer alternative is providing natural chews to your cat.
Take Play-Time to the Next Level
Some trial and error are involved in finding the right toy for your cat, but having a variety is a great way to keep your cat from getting bored of a game or toy.
Some cats may be very specific about their toys, and others may play with just about anything. Through regular playtime, you will get to know the games and toys that your cat is most interested in, and you can incentivize those toys with catnip or treats.
Don’t let your cat chew on play toys, as they should never be ingested and could be potential choking hazards. For cats who get overly excited about their toys, it's a good idea to put the toys away when playtime is over. This will prevent destructive chewing and teach your cat when it's time to calm down.
Putting toys away will also keep them fresh and exciting. Try rotating toys too. It will be easier to encourage playtime for less active cats when the toys are always fun!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are interactive cat toys, and why are they important?
Interactive cat toys engage your cat's mind and body to encourage physical activity and mental stimulation.
What are some popular types of interactive cat toys?
Interactive toys can include puzzle feeders, feather wands, laser pointers, treat-dispensing balls, and automated toys to encourage a wide array of play techniques.
How do puzzle feeders benefit my cat's mental health?
Puzzle feeders turn mealtime into fun time by creating a stimulating challenge. Cats must work to extract food which is similar to a feline's natural foraging behavior.
Are there any interactive toys that I can use when I'm not home?
Yes, automated toys like motion-activated laser pointers or feather toys can engage your cat even when you're away, so your kitty is occupied and doesn't suffer from separation anxiety.
Can I make DIY interactive toys for my cat?
You can create simple puzzle feeders using cardboard boxes or plastic bottles. Attach feathers, bells, ribbons or strings for interactive play.
How do I introduce interactive toys to my cat?
Start with toys that fulfill your cat's natural instincts, like dangling feather wands for hunting. Combine toys with treats to encourage play.