Five Must-Have Toys for Your Cat

Your kitten needs to play, and if she's the only cat in the house, she needs to play with you. As strange as it may sound, play is a crucial part of your pet's development. It enhances her coordination, gives her the exercise she needs to stay fit, and strengthens the bond she has with you. It will reduce her fear and can discharge energy after she's gone through an anxiety-producing experience such as a trip to the vet or a sudden change of scenery. Here are five of our favorite interactive toys.

1. Da Bird. This is a fishing pole-type interactive cat toy that has a swiveling device at the end of a string where feathers are attached. When you move Da Bird, the feathers spin and create an enticing game for your little hunter.

2. Catnip bubbles. This is just what it sounds like: bubble mixture like you used when you were a kid. Blow the bubbles and watch your kitten chase and pop them. This product is made to be non-toxic to cats, so you don't have to worry about the stuff that makes the bubbles, either.

3. Laser pointer. The amazing antics your kitten performs as she's trying to chase the red dot will exercise all of her muscles and your laugh-and-smile muscles. When using a laser pointer, do not shine it in her eyes.

4. Thing On A String. A Thing on a String is nothing more complex than a six-foot boot lace with a piece of cloth knotted on the end. Even after the piece of cloth falls off, your cat will enjoy playing with the string.

5. Balls. You can get a variety of ball toys at pet stores, or you can get a little "super-ball" from a supermarket vending machine. Roll the ball across the floor and watch your kitten chase it as it ricochets off any solid surfaces. You might even be able to teach your kitten to play Fetch. Do not use an air-filled ball as a toy; if your kitten punctures it with her teeth, the results could be tragic.

For best results, make thing-on-a-string toys act like prey. Vary the speed of your movements, "hide" it behind furniture and door frames, move it on the ground and let it take off into the air. When your kitten successfully grabs the toy, let her play with it for a minute. Pretend the toy is captured prey struggling to escape. You and your kitten will both have a blast.