Choosing the Best Cat Toys: What Cats Really Like to Play With and Why

bored cat laying down on carpet

Finding the Perfect Toy for Your Feline Friend

You may already know how important regular playtime is to the health and wellbeing of your cat. Cats need an engaging, stimulating environment in order to thrive, and regular playtime is a necessary component of that environment. But regardless of these simple facts, purchasing cat toys can still end up being a very frustrating experience.

Not every toy or gimmick that’s being marketed to today’s cat companions are toys that felines will necessarily respond to. So if you’re tired of trial and error, or are just interested in discovering what experts say are the best cat toys, then here’s a quick rundown of what cats really enjoy playing with, and why.


Homemade Toys for Cats Are a Big Deal

Many cats will respond rather well to playing with simple household objects, like a newspaper, a plastic milk jug ring, a bottle cap, or anything they can bat back and forth as they would with prey in the wild. Wiffle-type plastic golf practice balls can be especially entertaining for many cats.

You can also easily create your own lure-type toys by fastening a piece of fur to a long string, or a tying a feather to a string on the end of a pole.

Store-Bought Cat Toys

There are many fantastic toys available for cats at your local grocery store or pet specialty shop. As mentioned above, cats are individuals with their own individual tastes and not all of them will respond to the same toys. You may have to try out several toys until you get the kind of enthusiastic response you are looking for.

Cat-Proofing Cat Toys and Common Household Hazards for Cats: A Word on Safety

Not all cat toys are created equal in terms of safety. Once your cat is finished batting the toy back and forth, they may decide to hold it down and gnaw on it for a while. For this reason, it is a good idea to remove anything small that is attached to a toy, like eyes or small bits of fabric or ribbon, prior to giving the toy to your cat.

Additionally, cats love to play with small objects and especially those in bags (or the bags themselves). For this reason, it’s important that your cat not have access to items like paper clips, needles, and pins, and that plastic bags (especially dry cleaning bags) not be left around for them to improvise with.

Why Cats Play With the Things They End Up Playing With

Your cat is a hunter, first and foremost. They have a hunter’s instincts and a hunter’s senses. Engaging in play, for them, is a form of surrogate hunting. Therefore, in order to get and keep your cat’s attention, a toy must engage with their senses and their natural hunting instincts.

There are toys on the market that use sound to engage your cat’s natural instincts, and some that use texture (on the surface of the toy and within) to get your cat excited. There are still others that work by engaging their tracking instinct visually (if you’ve ever played with a cat using a laser pointer you know this already).

That said, a toy that uses one strategy to engage your cat’s senses may not work on your cat specifically. Cats are individuals and have individual preferences. This is why we’ve found so much success with getting cats excited about SHRU – the toy functions on a number of different levels, simulating moving prey in the wild and keeping your cat interested and engaged with sound, movement (varying types), randomness, and textures (tail component).

And just when your cat thinks they’ve caught their prey, SHRU bounces back and takes on a life of its own.

As Long as the Cats Are Playing…

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what toy you end up discovering is best for your feline companion. As long as it is safe for them to play with and they are happy to be doing so, its construction or how it works makes little difference. As long as they are playing, engaging their natural instincts and senses, they will be happy, content, and live longer, happier lives.

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