Our Editors’ Pick List

We couldn’t get enough of these must-have products for cats

We’re passionate about cat products, and we’ve been writing about them, testing them and purchasing them for years. Our feline and human judges pawed through more than 40 cat products to choose the ones that got the biggest meow of approval. With a trio of judges, each possessing 25-plus years of experience, we put the latest cat products in the categories of sleepware, housewares, toys, potty tools, gear and grooming/cleaning to the test to find the ones we believe are at the top of their game in originality, ease of use, attractiveness to both pet and human, and usefulness. Here are the winners:

Contemporary Kitty Playhouse

This playhouse is the perfect cozy hideout for your cat to rest, scratch and play. It features a full cardboard scratching floor to help groom claws and promote positive scratching behavior. Two openings allow for more than one cat to enter, so no one gets trapped. We love the design, too! $44.99. Ware Pet Products; warepet.com

Comfort Suede Breakaway Collar

This collar provides a soft touch for sensitive cats. It’s not as rigid as other collars, and the suede is super soft, comfortable and lightweight, helping to reduce hair loss at the collar line. The hardware is tough but light, and the fact that it’s a breakaway collar is a big plus — strong enough for play but will break away under pressure. $12.99. Sleepypod; sleepypod.com

Sherpa Airline Approved Travel 2-in-1 Backpack

Your cat can travel in comfort and style with this innovative carrier that doubles as a backpack. Featuring mesh windows for ventilation, top and side entry with locking zippers for safety, a no-slip carrying strap and two storage pockets, it’s stylish and lightweight. The patented spring wire frame allows the rear end of the carrier to be pushed down several inches, which can be useful for air travel if necessary. $69.99. Sherpa by Worldwise; sherpapet.com

Ball Dome 2.0

This toy definitely caught our cat testers’ interest. An upgrade of a common ball-and-track toy, it’s designed to appeal to a cat’s sense of hunting and to entice play. Featuring a motion-activated tilting plate, the combined sounds of the plate and the rolling ball draws in the cat’s attention as he paws through the opening in the top. When playtime is over, the toy automatically goes into sleep mode, saving battery power. $44.99. Hagen: Catit; usa.catit.com

Multi Kitty Twist’r

This product makes litter disposal quick and easy — and odorless. Your nose will thank you! Just open the lid, drop in the waste you just scooped up and step on the foot pedal. Patented seven-layer bags seal in the odors and remain twisted closed until they’re ready for disposal. It also comes with two charcoal sachets for even more odor control. $69.99. Red Rocket; redrocketpets.com

FurZapper

This product is amazing! You just put it in your washer and dryer when doing laundry and it gently removes pet hair from your clothing. Says one judge: “When I do laundry, there are still traces of cat hair all over some of them. This product takes away those trace amounts that normally would not come out in the wash. What a great invention! $14.99. FurZapper; furzapper.com

Armarkat Cuddler Cat Bed

This bed was a huge hit with our feline judges. The ultra-thick, shag plush makes it super soft and comfy. It’s very deep, which means cats can really snuggle down (and even submerge below eye level), making them feel safe and cozy. And it fits in with any home décor. One of our judges wanted to know when it will be available in human sizes! $35 (small); $45 (medium). AeroMark International; armarkat.com

PIXI Smart Fountain

They thought of everything with this smart drinking fountain, really taking cats into account with a whisker-friendly surface and different flow options. It features state-of-the-art filtration, superior sterilization and a continuous source of purified water — and a modern twist with smartphone features that allow you to control the fountain directly from your mobile device, whether near or remotely, using built-in WiFi and a free mobile app. $129.99. Hagen: Catit; usa.catit.com

Puzzle Play

Smarty cats will love these challenging food puzzles that help prevent boredom, provide mental stimulation and engage their natural hunting and foraging instincts. They’re also helpful for cats who tend to wolf down their meals — drop in some kibble and watch your cat “work” for her meal. These three versions — Rainy Day, Melon Madness and Buggin’ Out — range from easy to a little more difficult. $19.99-$24.99. Outward Hound/Nina Ottosson by Petstages; outwardhound.com

Purrniture Desk Topper

This product is marketed as a desktop bed, but whether it was placed on a workspace or on the floor, our feline judges loved it. It’s flat and compact, so it doesn’t take up much room, and the shape allows cats to sleep in the round, curved position they all seem to love. And it gets bonus points for being eco-friendly: It’s completely made from items like carpet remnants and wooden electrical spools that would normally end up in landfills. $30 (regular) $40 (large). Purrniture Cat Furniture; purrniture.com

Get Smashed Llama Party Piñata

This catnip-filled (and refillable) toy makes for a fun, feline fiesta. The llama is brightly colored and cheery, and it makes a crinkly noise that will appeal to cats — even those who aren’t into catnip. And we love that it’s an interactive toy — the more playtime kitty gets with you, the better! $9.99. Meowijuana; meowijuana.com

Felaqua Connect

This unique water system was designed in conjunction with leading veterinary behaviorists. It lets you keep track of your cat’s daily water intake, while the smart water delivery system provides your cat with fresh water. It connects with an app via a hub, which allows the app to “talk” to the device, registering what time your cat drank and how much. Even without using the monitoring features, it works nicely as a simple water bowl. $125, plus $69 for hub. Sure Petcare; surepetcare.com

Skoon All Natural Cat LitteR

Although it often takes time for a cat to acclimate to a new litter, most of our feline testers took to this one right away. Available in original pebbles (which also come in lavender and lemon- scented versions) and fine grain, it has great absorption and really controls odor. Its low-dust formula is a big plus. It’s also available in a ready-made box version, which is great if you suddenly face an emergency evacuation. $24.95 (litter); $24.95-$29.95 (box with litter). Skoon; skooncatlitter.com

Creekside Ceramic Pet Fountain

This attractive water fountain is unique in that it is whisper quiet — ideal for scaredy cats who might be spooked by stainless steel, flashing lights and even the sound of running water. It gives pets three drinking alternatives — from the top where it bubbles up, off the sides as it trickles down and from the bowl itself. Made from high-quality ceramic that’s scratch resistant and free of lead and heavy metals, it’s hygienic and safe for your pet. $64.95. Petsafe; petsafe.net

Comfortable Hooded Pet Bed

This bed has a clean, simple design and its distinctive lightweight fabric helps keep your cat comfortable. The hood is adjustable, so you can change how much space there is inside to meet your cat’s needs and preferences — whether she’s a nervous pet who likes to hide or a senior who enjoys peace and quiet while napping. $58. Pawscape Limited; pawscape.ca

 

Kitty Sift Disposable Sifting Litter Box

This recycled cardboard litter box system offers a convenient, healthy and sustainable alternative to the plastic litter box. The natural fiber is water- and odor-resistant, and the liners make it easy to clean. We like that it comes in a smaller size for kittens, and the larger box is big enough for an adult cat to turn around in. Starts at $19.99. Creative Pet Works; kittysift.com

Cozy Cat Cave Bed

These fun cave beds are lovingly hand-felted by fair trade partners in Nepal and are crafted from 100% organic merino wool. We love the wide variety of colors and patterns, and they can be used as a bed or hiding spot. According to one of our judges: “My cats took to the cave bed right away, although there was some disagreement as to whether it should be slept in or on top of.” $59.95. Cozy Cat Cave Beds; catcavebeds.com

save my pet ID tag

What a great idea! This ID tag for humans indicates that they have pets at home in case anything happens to them. The paw-shaped tag is durable and stylish and can easily go onto a key ring. There are also bracelet and pendant options. One side is custom engraved with your pets’ information, including location, on the front and the contact information of a trusted caretaker on the back. $25-$39.99. ZinziePie; savemypetidtag.com

Rompicatz Wand Toys

These toys trigger a cat’s hunting instinct and are perfect for interactive play. The Adjustable String Wand with mouse attachment lets you adjust the string from 1 inch to 36 inches for more playtime versatility. The Rustlin’ Butterfly Teaser features three rotating and sliding butterflies that will drive your cat wild. And the Critter Collector series has a lightweight wand and a variety of fluttery bugs that fit firmly into place on the wand. One or all of the toys are certain to grab your cat’s attention. $11-$19. Pet Ki Enterprises; rompicatz.com

PomPom Basket Bed for Pets

This cute and comfy bed has a fun, original design and is made with high-quality felt material. It also features a soft, removable pillow, making it the perfect lounging spot for cats who enjoy some R&R. One of our feline judges also enjoyed playing with the pompoms when not napping in the bed. $58. Pawscape Limited; pawscape.ca

Birthjays Catnip-filled joints

All three judges got a kick out of these. They’re a fun eye candy take on catnip that will probably appeal more to the pet parent, but our cat testers certainly went nuts for the catnip! Just break the Birthjay in half, sprinkle the catnip and watch your cat become the life of the party. $13.99. Meowijuana; meowijuana.com

Martingale Cat Harness & Slim Leash

For cats who love going for walks or on outdoor adventures with their people, this product is a must. It’s sturdy while also being soft and comfortable, and it’s lightweight so it doesn’t weigh down your cat. We love the slim, light feel of the 6-foot leash. Like the harness, it’s durable but soft, making it comfortable in your hand and perfect for feline outings. $26.99-$32.99 (harness); $29.99 (leash). Sleepypod; sleepypod.com

ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Although self-cleaning litter boxes aren’t new, this one is innovative because you can monitor your cat’s litter box activity both on the box and through an app on your smartphone and note any irregularities that might signal possible health concerns like a urinary tract infection. The crystal litter provides better odor control by absorbing urine and dehydrating solid waste, and the sleek design blends with any home décor. $209.95. Petsafe; petsafe.net

CatNap Faux Fur Orthopedic Bed & CatNap Throw Blanket

This memory foam bed is ideal for all cats to settle into but particularly comfy for elderly cats who might have joint pain. The removable and washable faux fur cover is super soft and luxurious. The anti-scratch blanket is just as soft and works well as a couch cover for kitties who like to scratch. The judges loved how both the bed and blanket look in their homes. $109 (bed); $129 (blanket). Paw; paw.com

Butterfly Frenzy Electronic Cat Toy

Our cat testers went after this right away. The wobbly, non-tipping green frog has a wire-attached butterfly that darts and dives through the air quickly and randomly, even unexpectedly hopping on the ground only to take off again. A button in the center of the frog’s belly activates the toy. One of our cat testers enjoyed playing with the butterfly when the toy wasn’t even turned on! $14.99. Wingpet; wingpet.com

MEET THIS YEAR’S EDITORS’ CHOICE JUDGES

Sandy Robins

has spent the last 22 years working in the pet industry. Her felines Ziggy and Tory are veteran product testers and enjoyed the past few months with packages arriving on a regular basis, turning the living room into a feline amusement park. They kept their favorites, shared with furriends and donated to animal shelters — a win-win all around.

Annie Butler Shirreffs

has worked in the pet industry for almost 20 years and is the senior editor of Catster and Dogster magazines. Her four cats (Agatha, Alastair, Jack and Mathilda) are veteran product testers and were very impressed with this year’s selection. Various foster kittens also participated this year — they especially liked all of the toys.

Susan Logan-McCracken

is a journalist who has specialized in pet topics for 20 years. She and her husband, Mark, live in Southern California with their two red tabbies, Maddie and Sophie. The kitties seemed to know that every package was just for them. They were honored to test each and enjoyed every product, as well as the packaging they came in.