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9 Types of Cat Toys & How to Use Them (With Pictures)

a cat playing with toys
Image Credit: winni-design, Shutterstock
Last Updated on December 5, 2023 by Catster Editorial Team

Cats love to play (though they can be picky about what they’ll play with), and for good reason! Play is an integral part of keeping pets stimulated. Plus, play helps our feline friends engage in their natural instincts and keeps them active and healthier. However, there are so many cat toys you can choose for your cats, so how do you know which are the most suitable?

You need to have a variety of toys for your pet, as each type of toy taps into a different instinct. But most importantly, you need to choose the toys that play best with your cat’s temperament and personality. For example, your kitty may enjoy climbing more than it enjoys pouncing, so something that fits that urge to climb would be best.

Below you’ll find nine types of cat toys and how each kind fits in with your cat’s instincts. Knowing this will enable you to find the most suitable toys for your feline!

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The 9 Types of Cat Toys

1. Balls

domestic cat playing fetch
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

Some kitties love to chase after balls and bat them around. Chasing after balls is fun for your cat because the movement of the ball is similar to that of a small animal, meaning chasing after it plays into your pet’s prey drive. Plus, balls for cats often include jingly bells, catnip, feathers, and other enticing items. So, if you’re willing to hang out and toss a ball around with your cat (and retrieve it if your kitty doesn’t fetch), then balls make an excellent choice.

2. Catnip Toys

cat playing with catnip toy
Image Credit: Ellie Burnett, Shutterstock

Catnip toys don’t really play into any kind of feline instinct, but it sure is fun for your cat (and you!). All kitties deserve to try catnip at least once, so they can get a little buzz and go zooming around or relax for a quick cat nap. However, not all felines enjoy catnip—some don’t have the necessary gene to get that catnip buzz, while kittens don’t react to it until between 6 months to 1 year. If your cat is one that doesn’t have a reaction to catnip, though, there are several alternatives you can try to give them a similar experience.

Playing is an important part of keeping your cat mentally and physically engaged, and a great toy will make it much easier. We like Hepper's Catnip Stick Toys because they're sturdy enough to handle intense play and completely filled with organic catnip. You'll love the fun range of pastel colors and your cat will enjoy the prey-like shape!

Hepper Catnip Stick Toy

At Excited Cats, 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!

3. Climbing Places

Cute pet sharpening claws on cat tree at home
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Felines love to climb things, as it enables them to view their kingdoms, watch out for predators, and observe any prey on the ground that might be about. And while your cat doesn’t need to avoid predators or look for prey in the home, climbing still relieves this instinct of theirs. So, if your kitty is a climber, give it something to climb up on, whether it’s a cat tree or a fun wall jungle gym!

4. Hiding Places

cat playing at home
Im age Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Of course, there are some cats that prefer staying closer to the ground and hiding away in cubby holes or boxes. Felines enjoy places they can hide as hiding can make them feel safer and gives them a spot to sit back and watch the world unseen. Hiding spots can also provide enrichment and opportunity for activity, depending on the type you go with. That’s why investing in hiding places for your kitty is a good idea, whether it’s a cardboard box, a cat tunnel, or a cat condo.

5. Hunting Toys

kitten playing mouse toy
Image Credit: MaraZe, Shutterstock

As we said earlier, felines have strong prey drives. This prey drive leads them to stalk and hunt anything that catches their attention, whether it’s a bug flying about the room or a mouse in the house. You can easily indulge your cat’s hunting instincts with toys they can hunt. Whether that’s a toy mouse you toss for kitty or a toy that moves around your home all on its own, your favorite furry friend will love the opportunity to catch “prey” (after all, our indoor cats don’t get the chance to do so for real very often!).

6. Laser Pointer

Laser Pointer Cat Toy

Laser pointers are a classic, and there’s an excellent reason for that! With this toy, you indulge your kitty’s hunting instincts once again while helping them get a good workout. Even the laziest of felines goes crazy over the laser pointer, so you really can’t go wrong having one of these around. Plus, laser pointers are incredibly simple to use, so anyone in the family, even small children, can engage with your cat in this way. Bonus? Laser pointers are also super cheap!

7. Puzzle Toys

TRIXIE Brain Mover Activity Strategy Game Cat Toy

Puzzle toys are a fabulous way to keep your cat engaged and stimulated so it doesn’t become bored. And cats tend to love them because a good majority of puzzle toys involve hidden treats or food pieces, and cats can be quite food-motivated! However, there are puzzle toys that involve trying to reach toys rather than food if your cat is watching its weight. Plus, having a few puzzle toys around will also help your cat feel less lonely when you’re away, as this sort of toy can keep them busy for ages.

8. Scratching Posts

Gray cat lying down a cat tree with scratching post
Image Credit: husnerova, Pixabay


You’ve likely noticed that our feline friends are big on scratching at things, and though it may seem simply destructive, there are actually several reasons cats scratch. Scratching enables the cat to sharpen its claws, gives it a good stretch, and helps it mark the territory it considers theirs. You don’t want your pet to start on your furniture, though, so invest in a handful of scratching posts instead! Ideally, you should have one in several rooms throughout your home (particularly if you have multiple cats). This gives your cat lots of space to engage those natural scratching instincts.

Alternatively, if you want to surprise your cat with something cool, check out the Hepper Hi-Lo Cat Scratcher. It's not just a scratcher; it's a piece of modern furniture that your cat can play on. It's got a curvy design that's perfect for stretching and moving, and it's built tough with strong birch plywood and thick B-flute cardboard. You can adjust it to three different heights, which keeps cats entertained. Plus, it won't break the bank! Our cats love it, and we do too.

Tony and Cheetah playing on Hepper Hi Lo Cat Scratcher

At Excited Cats, 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!

9. Wands

cat playing with owner
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

Not only do wand toys allow your cat to engage in the natural instincts to hunt and pounce, but because these toys require your participation, it helps strengthen the bond between the two of you. And there are so many kinds of wand toys you can pick from—those with feathers, those with mice hanging off the end, those with colorful ribbons, and even some that make sounds! There’s no end to the good times with wands on hand.

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There’s a world of cat toys out there to explore, but when it comes to picking the most suitable ones for your feline, consider which instincts your pet engages in most. Does your kitty love to pounce? Or does it prefer sitting atop your bookshelf and gazing down on its kingdom? Figuring out how your cat likes to play and interact with the world around it will help you find the best toys for it in no time!

See also:

Featured Image Credit: winni-design, Shutterstock

About the Author

Misty Layne
Misty Layne
Misty Layne lives out in the woods in small-town Alabama with her two Siamese cats—Serafina and Jasper. She also has an array of stray cats, raccoons, and possums who like to call her front porch home. When she’s not writing about animals, you’ll find her writing poetry, stories, and film reviews (cats, by far, her favorite writing topic, though!). In her free time, Misty enjoys chilling with her cats, playing piano, watching indie and foreign films, photographing abandoned places, and catching up on her never-ending TBR list.

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