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How Do I Choose the Right Toys for My Cat? Vet-Approved Tips & Guide

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Young happy woman choosing toys for pets in pet shop

How Do I Choose the Right Toys for My Cat? Vet-Approved Tips & Guide

VET APPROVED

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

Veterinarian, BVM BVS MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

When you have a cat, you already know how important it is to make sure they have something to do. This is particularly true of purely indoor cats.  Cats have a natural instinct to stalk and hunt prey, so without this option, they can get bored and sometimes anxious or aggressive. One way of simulating and satiating a cat’s need to stalk and hunt is by playing games with them.  Different toys will be right for different cats; this depends on their individual personalities.  With a bit of trial and error you can work out which toys are most fun for your furry friend.

We recommend having a variety of toys available even if your cat tends to gravitate towards a particular type of toy. Having different options on hand will keep things interesting.

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The Importance of Cat Toys 

Lack of toys and enrichment in your cat's life can lead to medical conditions and sometimes even depression. Always having a few of their favorite playthings on hand and being ready to engage in activity when the moment strikes are excellent ways of promoting healthy behaviors that will sharpen their minds, build strength, and increase their energy.

Our Favorite Cat Toys Right Now

Here are a some of our favorite toys, each catering to a variety of senses and play preferences. Which one will your feline fancy? 

Hepper Mouse kicker toy Hepper Furballs
Hepper Plush Mouse Kicker Toy Hepper Furball Toy Set
Multisensory
Multisensory :
Multisensory :
Encourages self play
Encourages self play:
Encourages self play:
Large
Large:
Large:
Durable
Durable :
Durable :
Lightweight
Lightweight:
Lightweight:
Set of 2
Set of 2:
Set of 2:

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

 

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The 5 Different Kinds of Cat Toys

There are plenty of different cat toys on the market to choose from. You shouldn’t have any trouble keeping your pal entertained.

1. Stuffed Toys

Stuffed toys are always a major go-to for most cat people. Cats tend to love these fun little toys and often prefer them over many others. Many stuffed cat toys are packed with catnip, making it even more tantalizing for your purring pal.

These little toys can be inexpensive but effective toys to have on hand. Cats tend to love something to bat around. Plus, they make good additions to cat beds if your cat loves to cuddle. Some cats prefer to snuggle with these instead of play, too.

If your cat is particularly destructive, they might be able to tear up small cloth toys easily, so make sure the toy is safe before offering it.

Cat with stuff teddy bear
Image Credit: Marina Datsenko, Shutterstock

2. Balls or Jingly Toys

Balls and other noise makers tend to come in packages together. You can buy any of them separately, but these inexpensive toys are easy to come by, and you can find them at virtually any store, whether it be Walmart, a specialized pet shop, or online.

Even though these toys are fun to have around, keep in mind how well they are made. If they are not made correctly, they can pose a choking hazard.


3. Interactive Toys

What exactly is an interactive toy? It is one where your cat has to engage in play with either you or the toy, and often both.  Some examples of these toys could include teasers, lasers, and multi-tier ball towers.

These interactive toys provide a fun way for you to bond with your cat while ensuring they get to fulfill some of their hunting desires. These games are also an opportunity to exercise your cat.

hand of a woman pointing laser on cat's paw
Image Credit: borzywoj, Shutterstock

4. Electronic Toys

Electronic toys can be a very good option for families who aren’t home a lot. If your cat is alone, having a battery-operated toy to keep them busy can make them feel better.

Electronic toys tend to be a little more expensive than some of the other options on our list, but they’re awesome to have on hand. These toys are especially beneficial for high-energy cats like kittens and more playful breeds.

Some of these toys require batteries, while others charge with a USB port. Ultimately, it’s up to your preference and what you prefer to replace. Chargeable toys are often preferred because you don’t have to worry about costly battery replacements and they are more eco-friendly.  Make sure that any batteries are contained securely behind a zip or screw-locked compartment to avoid battery ingestion which is very dangerous for cats.


5. Exercise Toys

Exercise is a crucial part of feline care! It’s awesome to have multiple toys or products around the house that will encourage your cat to burn a few calories in a day. There are tons of options! You can get them cat trees, wall climbers, and even cat exercise wheels.

That’s right! It looks like a hamster wheel, but it’s designed for cats. If you have a particularly high-energy cat, that can be a very enriching option, even though they are a little expensive.

Luckily, there are tons of DIY options, too, so if you want to make your cat an entire jungle gym, that’s on you! You can check out DIYs on sites like Pinterest or YouTube.

Cat exercise wheel
Image Credit by: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

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The 5 Tips for Buying the Right Toys

So how exactly do you choose the right kinds of toys? We have an answer for that!

1. Test Out Several Kinds

If you’re wanting to know what toys your cat would love best, the only way you can really find out is to test it. Get a variety of toys to see which ones your cat gravitates towards most.

Some cats might show no interest in small stuffed toys but be so excited to chase around feather teasers.


2. Ensure Safety

Safety is imperative. Even though many products are designed for cats, they are not always made to the best quality.   Some come with parts that are easy to break, have jagged edges, or contain poorly crafted battery ports.

Reading reviews can help you pinpoint concerns from other cat parents.  Always inspect a new toy before giving it to your pet and if you are concerned about its quality, take it back to the shop.  Some toys you may feel are safe as long as your cat is supervised while playing with it.

Cat playing fetch with ball
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

3. Buy a Variety

Don’t just buy one type of toy. A single pack of cat toys won’t cut it. Get several different kinds so you can see how your cat reacts.  You can even create new toys from the comfort of your own home. Cats love boxes, cardboard tubes, balls of foil and pieces of scrap paper.  Toys don’t have to cost lots of money.


4. Play with Your Cat

Get your cat interested! Get on the floor and touch a few toys with them. You can quickly see which one of them sparks the prey drive most and purchase more of the same kinds of toys based on their reaction.

Sometimes, you can convince your cat to play with something they never would have on their own. If your cat is a little shy or unsure, they might need this extra boost of confidence to help them make the most out of playtime.

Cute persian cat playing toy
ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

5. Have Multi-Cat Toys

If you live in a multi-cat household, you probably have toys out. The cats will appreciate a variety of entertainment activities, so it’s best to have a couple of favorites on hand for each one of your cats so they don’t get bored.

Providing a variety of toys might encourage your cats to interact with one another. Play is very important and can serve as a bonding experience for them.  Some cats won’t play with other cats, some will; it depends on the individual relationships.

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The Truth About Catnip

What you might not know about catnip is that it’s a hit and miss. Statistically, only roughly 70–80% of cats show any obvious psychoactive effects from catnip, even though some of these may feel some effect. So, if you’re giving your cat catnip, and they still don’t seem very interested, it could just be because they don’t have a response to it, or the response they have is more relaxed than excited.

Most of the time you never know until you try. Plus, the different effects catnip can have will vary from cat to cat. Some cats could be extremely calm and lovable, while others start psychotically flying off the hinges. It’s hard to tell how a particular cat will react until you give them a sample.

cat-eating-catnip
Image Credit: Doug McLean, Shutterstock

Buy Organic When You Can

If your cat is a catnip fiend, buy organic when you can. Catnip also grows easily both in the home and outside. So, if you want your cat to get the best of the best, grow it yourself! Not only will you save money this way, but you know that there are no harmful pesticides, chemicals, or mold in the catnip.

You can grow catnip in the comfort of your own home just by giving it the right soil, nutrients, and a sunny window. You can also grow catnip outside in your garden during warmer months, but keep in mind that these plants tend to take over their growing space. You can also dry catnip yourself if you have the inclination.

Opt for Cat Grass Instead

If your cat doesn’t seem to care too much for catnip but won’t leave your house plants alone, maybe cat grass is a better option for them. Not only does cat grass provide a suitable amount of roughage in your cat’s diet, but it could save the life of your precious indoor plants.

Cat grass is generally easy to grow, and you can get it in various forms. You can look for options on sites like Chewy or Amazon. Your carnivorous kitty will enjoy having a little greenery around to munch on.

kitten eating the grass oats
Image Credit: Ann Hirna, Shutterstock

The Importance of Healthy Exercise

Exercise is a crucial part of feline care. Your cat requires stimulation and motivation to stay healthy. As kittens, you likely won’t have to do much convincing to get your cat to move around. However, once a cat reaches adulthood, they may take more convincing.   Spayed or neutered cats tend to put on weight more easily. Encouraging daily exercise and offering appropriate portions of food is important in maintaining your cat at a healthy weight.

That’s why you have to keep enrichment toys around that they can enjoy whenever they want to. The more motivation they have, the better off they are. Rotating toys in and out can help to keep cats interested.  That is not to say that every single cat will be interested in toys. Some would prefer to chase a hair tie or bottle cap on the ground than ever to touch a catnip-stuffed mouse.

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Conclusion

Now, you have a pretty good understanding of the different types of cat toys on the market. We want to take this as a final opportunity to encourage you to get a variety to keep things interesting.

Once you try out a few toy options, you can easily see which attracts your cat the most. Keep in mind that exercise and enrichment is key to a happy and healthy cat!

See also:


Featured Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

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