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Experiment: I Play With 5 Cat Toys and Watch My Cats React

My cats couldn't hide their embarrassment as I kicked catnip toys and batted jingle balls.

Angie Bailey  |  Nov 16th 2016


I’m a fan of science, and every once in a while I enjoy engaging my cats in little experiments to gauge their reactions. Cosmo and Phoebe can be very possessive of their “things.” They monitor me closely while I scoop their litter boxes and pick up their toys. I was interested in how they’d respond if I took things a step further with their belongings. Because I wasn’t about to squat in the litter box (give me a little credit), I decided I’d play with their toys right in front of them and observe their reactions. I chose five toys that they especially love, and here’s how it all went down. (Spoiler alert: “I’m doing it wrong.”)

1. Catnip kicker

cat-toys-experiment-01

“You’re embarrassing yourself.”

The catnip kicker is a huge hit around here, and it frequently stays pretty soaked with kitty spit. Both my cats love attacking the thing and kicking the crap out of it. Thank goodness it’s sturdy. Not only did I want to know how the cats would react to my playing with the kicker, I was curious what all the fuss was about.

I grabbed the toy and assumed one of the poses I’d seen Phoebe and Cosmo use and started kicking away at the thing. It was fine and all, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the cats seemed to. Maybe if it were filled with something I like — chocolate or vodka perhaps?

Result: Phoebe went into hiding and Cosmo turned away, obviously embarrassed.

“You’re doing it wrong.”

2. Crinkle ball

"I'll just be over here in this rabbit head."

“I’ll just be over here inside this rabbit head.”

Cosmo loves himself a nice crinkle ball. In fact, it’s his favorite of all cat toys. I was particularly interested in his reaction once I started handling it in a playful manner. It makes a cool noise, so I could see the draw to the particular plaything. Plus, it’s light and easily swattable — and excellent hang time! I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this one.

Result: Phoebe disappeared and Cosmo looked for somewhere to hide.

“You’re doing it wrong.”

3.Catnip rainbow

"Umm ..."

“Umm …”

The catnip rainbow has become a fan favorite around here. It’s an interesting size and shape, which means there are several options for play. It can act as a kicker, a pillow, or a battable chew toy. Cosmo’s a catnip fiend and has had countless up-close-and-personal engagements with this toy. I like rainbows, so it was an automatic winner for me. When I played with it, it was already wet and kind of gross, so I didn’t have quite the time I’d imagined, but it was okay.

Result: Phoebe decided it was a good time to use the litter box, while Cosmo pretended he didn’t know me.

“You’re doing it wrong.”

4. Jingle ball

cat-toys-experiment-04

“The wrist action is all wrong.”

Phoebe can’t get enough of the jingle ball. It’s small like she is, and she has a blast volleying it across our rugs and concrete floor. I’ve been a longtime lover of this timeless toy, and there has never been a question as to its play-ability. Also, the jingle reminds me of Christmas, which is my favorite holiday. I lay on the rug and batted the jingle ball back and forth between my hands and found the experience meditative. I think I might have found a new relaxation technique. Who needs Tibetan bells when you can have a jingle ball?

Result: Phoebe judged my technique and Cosmo ignored me, reclaiming his catnip rainbow.

“You’re doing it wrong.”

5. Catnip fish

"Can I have my toy now?"

“Can I have my toy now?”

The little catnip fish is small like the jingle ball, and Phoebe likes it almost as much. It’s filled with quality nip and is so popular that it’s often lost under furniture. In fact I located this one hiding behind the sofa. It’d been attacked by dust bunnies, so I had to clean it before playtime. Like Phoebe, I think I prefer the little toys because they’re easily moveable. I sat in front of her and tossed the fish into the air and caught it over and over again. I have to say I’m a decent catch. Maybe I missed my calling as a softball catcher. (Maybe not.)

Result: Cosmo continued drooling all over his catnip rainbow and Phoebe stared at me, waiting for me to come to my senses and drop the fish so she could grab it. It’d been under the sofa for quite some time after all. She assumed the dust bunnies had killed it. Very nearly, Pheebs … very nearly.

“You’re doing it wrong.”

How do your cats react when you interact with their “stuff?” Tell us in the comments!