6 Cat Toys and Products that Are Not Worth Your Money in My Humble Opinion


As a cat mom of three, I’m constantly buying new cat toys. It’s hard for me to even pass a pet store without going in and trying their latest product. While I’ve found some stuff I really love, most of it has been a complete waste of money. The photo below illustrates an example of the kinds of things my cats like to play with above much of what’s sold in stores. It’s a knitted penis bought at a gigantic annual sale in Oakland called the White Elephant. Below are some examples of failures — and photographs of some successes — in cat toys.

1. Catnip bubbles

My cats love catnip, and I always see cute videos of dogs trying to bite at kids’ bubbles. So of course this seemed like the perfect toy. Wrong! Every time I blow the bubbles in their direction, my cats hiss and run away.

2. Flashing mat

I recently bought a nylon mat that lights up in random areas whenever it detects motion. It’s kind of like the laser pointer game but without me having to do any of the work. (I’m a loving cat mom, but I’m also a little lazy.) While the mat caught the cats’ attention for the first couple of minutes, later that night they were completely over it.

3. Cat staircase

I watched an episode of Jackson Galaxy’s My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet where it was explained that indoor cats need lots of vertical spaces to climb on. So I went online and ordered a pricey mini-staircase that attached to the back of a door. Not only would the cats be able to climb on it, but it wouldn’t take up valuable space in my tiny apartment. I watched an online video to make sure I assembled it perfectly, then I waited for the cats to join me in the excitement I felt. No such luck. Not even the bravest of my three would jump up. When I put catnip on the steps and lifted them on the stairs, they jumped off immediately. Money down the drain!

4. Water fountain

I’ve read that cats like drinking from moving water sources, so I thought getting a cat drinking-fountain would be the answer. Unfortunately, it needed tons of maintenance. When the filter needs changing, the motor makes noise, and because of the food and kitty litter the cats tracked into the fountain, the filter often needed changing. Maybe I will have more luck with another brand, but I haven’t been brave enough to risk losing more money.

5. Pheromone replicas

When I first moved in with my now-husband, we knew we would have to be careful when introducing our cats to one another. Because each cat had grown up an only child, the transition was less than smooth. I saw a pheromone plug-in at the pet store, which claimed to calm cats by emitting pheromones to make cats feel safe. While the packaging promised it was odorless, I could smell something similar to cat pee (mmmm! a cat urine-scented air freshener!) once I plugged it in. It also didn’t help to calm the cats. The next week we were taking my husband’s cat to the vet for stitches because my cat bit her.

6. Runaway toys

One toy I was super excited to bring home was a battery-operated mouse that moved across the floor on its own, changing direction sporadically to keep the cat challenged. One of my cats was even happy to run after the toy. Unfortunately, the toy crapped out before my cat could get tired of it. The motor worked fine (I changed the batteries to make sure), but it was the wheels themselves that didn’t work. After a few minus, the little mouse couldn’t even make it across the room.

What cat toys or products have left you less than thrilled? Save me and my wallet any future disappointment and let me know in the comments!

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