Is your cat destructive, loud, aggressive, overweight or just plain lazy? Try an interactive cat toy to keep your cat active and prevent boredom. Cat’s are incredibly social creatures, and providing a stimulating environment is essential for preventing unhealthy and negative behaviours.
Cat’s 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 are a good option for both physical and mental stimulation. Most automatic laser 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 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 door knobs 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 cat, try finding more challenging places to put the toy to increase their activity levels.
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 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 Fireball 2.0. The bright light will help keep your cat focused on it’s target for longer playtime. Add Catnip or treats to get lazier cats more excited about circuit toys.
Slow Feed Toys
This multi-stage bowl/toy/puzzle is perfect for keeping your kitty occupied and stimulated. Use it for full meals, snacks, or for playtime. The Intellikat can improve digestion, and reducing bloat and regurgitation by slow down your cat while she eats.
Even better, it's a great way to make meal time fun and exciting.
Multiple levels of difficulty will teach you 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 a 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.
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.
If your cat loves to chew, check out our best natural cats chews that will improve your cats dental health.
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 play time.
Wands come in all shapes and sizes, so choose the style the best suits your cats size and play habits. Some wands use feathers or ribbons that can easily detach during play time, so make sure your cat isn’t trying to eat any of these pieces.
Wands are great for fast high-energy play time, and it encourages physical activity in you too. A half hour of intense wand play will have you and your kitty ready for a cat nap. We recommend trying a couple styles to see which ones really catch your cat’s attention.
Look for wands that make crinkle or rattling noises to really get your cat excited. It's important to let you 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 Lightning Ball by Amazing Pet Products. This small spiky rubber ball has an LED light inside that is activated when it’s thrown.
The flashing light will encourage your cat to chase it down as fast as they can. Try playing in a dim room to really help the flashing pop.
These toys are a bit smaller, so they may not be ideal for all sizes of cat. Fetch toys should be lightweight to avoid your cat getting injured, or doing any damage to your house.
Laser toys can be used for interactive play with cats too. Hand held laser toys are small and inexpensive, so they are a staple in many households. Remember to keep play time in short burst to not over work 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 on 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 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 play time. 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. Sometime they just get sick of their siblings and want a place to be alone and relax.
For more tips on playing with your cat, check out this super helpful blog, How to Play with your Cat.
Make Play-Time Great Again
Some trial and error is involved in finding the right toy for your cat. Some cats may be very specific about their toys, and others may play with just about anything. Through regular play time, 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 get overly excited about their toys, it's a good idea to put the toys away when play time if 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 play time for less active cats when the toys are always fun!
What your favourite interactive game to play with your feline friend?
Posted by Krystn Janisse
Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channelling some crazy cat lady vibes with her five lovable, but rebellious cats.