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What Do Cats Like To Play With? 11 Vet-Approved Toys Felines Love

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 28, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

a cat playing with toys

What Do Cats Like To Play With? 11 Vet-Approved Toys Felines Love


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo


Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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Each cat is so different, that sometimes it can be a challenge to find toys that engage your friendly feline. Some cats are simply not interested in any toy, while others could find hours of enjoyment from a single bell ball.

If you have been struggling to find the perfect toys for your cat, try the ones on this list of cat toys. From catnip toys to a feline version of whack-a-mole, you are bound to find something that your cat will love playing with.

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The Different Kinds of Cat Toys

There are four broad categories of cat toys. Sometimes, these can be combined or the design enhanced to give it a unique twist. Figure out the types of toys that your cat likes to play with and if they have particular favorites.

Also, remember that it is best to rotate through cat toys. Many cats enjoy having a different toy to play with at certain times, rather than having the same toy all the time. Therefore, a rotation system might work best for your cat.


Cat wands have three parts: a long stick, a string, and an object like a feather dangling from the end of the line. You use the stick to pull the object around, either near your cat on the ground or above them.


Throwing and playing with balls is often more associated with dogs than cats. However, cats also like to chase things. They also tend to like things that flash because it looks like movement to them. Get balls, and fill them with catnip to really pique their curiosity. You can also find balls that light up, make noise, and most commonly, have small bells in them.

Stuffed Catnip Toys

Many toys fall under the “catnip-enhanced” category. Many stuffed toys have a bit of catnip worked into them to make them incredibly alluring to most felines. They will chew on them and chase them around, batting them as though they were real stuffed mice or something similar.

If you are trying to get your cat interested in something, catnip is a great “improver” for cat toys. However, such a toy will only work on cats that respond favorably to catnip. Fortunately, most cats fall into this category.

Our Favorite Catnip Toy

Great cat toys are crucial to keeping your cat happy and healthy. We love Hepper's Catnip Stick Toy because it's handmade in the USA, available in a cool range of colors, and sturdy enough to withstand your cat's sharp claws. Best of all, you won't find any filler here just 100% organic catnip!

Hepper Stick Catnip Cat Kicker Toy
  • No Filler - Like all the best cat toys our is stuffed with 100% organic catnip. Cheap cat toys with...
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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!

Hiding Toys

Hiding toys is a broad term for objects in which a cat can hide or run into and out of as though they were stalking something. These toys can include simple things like boxes or full-on setups like a cat tunnel.

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Top 11 Toys Your Cat Will Love

Now that you have an idea of the categories for most cat toys, think back to any toy that your cat has shown an interest in. Then, select toys from this list of the top toy ideas that your cat will love.

1. Boxes

cat inside a cardboard box
Photo Credit: Pixabay

You do not have to go out and spend a fortune to find toys that your cats will play with or use for hours. A box could become your cat’s new nap spot, or it could be their watchful hideout to observe everything going on around them.

Try out boxes of different sizes with your cat. For many cat owners, the holiday season is the best period of the year to give this option a try. Some cats love big boxes that they can jump into and out of, while other cats enjoy squeezing themselves into as small a space as possible.

2. Whack-a-Mole Cat Toy

Humans aren’t the only ones who can enjoy a stress-relieving game like Whack-a-Mole. There are cat-centric Whack-a-Mole games where something like a stuffed mouse pops up through the hole and then disappears into the box again.

You can also make one of these yourself using levers, popsicle sticks, stuffed animal toys, and a box.

3. Leaves

fern leaves
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Not all plants are safe for cats. Many species of plants can cause various degrees of toxicities in cats. As a general rule, if you aren’t sure about the safety of a leaf, do not use it as a toy for your cat.

A cat is a simplistic animal with plenty of primal tendencies. They can quickly pick up on even the slightest movement. It is likely because of this ability that they get so easily distracted and have such short attention spans.

Wind rustling the leaves or a leaf blowing across their path can be enough to catch their attention. You can engineer a toy from a leaf if they are an indoor cat. Use any kind of leaf, and attach it to a long piece of string. Allow it to drag behind you as you move through the house. You can also attach more than one to the line to make it even easier to spot and more of a temptation.

4. Paper Bags and Wrapping Paper

Cats can’t seem to help the desire to crawl into small spaces. If you leave a paper bag on the floor near them, they likely won’t be able to avoid the temptation to crawl into it and explore. If they seem interested, crinkle the bag from the outside while they move in and out, so they have something more to investigate.

5. Wand and Feather Toys

cat and feather toy
Image Credit: Pixabay

Cats should be monitored whenever they play with any string or thread; these can easily be ingested, and such incidents require veterinary care and surgical intervention. If you suspect that your cat has ingested a string or thread, seek prompt veterinary attention.

Wand toys make tremendous mutual play toys. But cats won’t be interested in them unless you are pulling the string from the other side, so it isn’t a self-play kind of toy.

You can find all kinds of wands or teaser toys. You can find ones with bundles of brightly colored feathers, although the color won’t matter as much to your cat because they can’t see them as well. Textures and sizes often do more for them.

Cats love the sudden jerking motions that you can make with the stick. If you need to train them to use the toy, get one with a stuffed animal filled with catnip at the end.

6.  Stuffed Animals

Stuffed animals make up an entire selection of excellent cat toy options. Getting the size right is tricky because some cats will only hunt things exponentially smaller than they are, things that can make a suitable meal. On the other hand, other cats seem to enjoy tackling a toy that’s just about any size!

It may help to opt for stuffed toys that are fuzzy and have long tails. However, getting a stuffed animal “right” is a tricky process and requires knowing your cat’s preferences. You can also use a stuffed animal for interactive play because you can grab the toy’s tail and pull it around as though it’s moving.

Stuffed animals might also be a good option for cats who like to cuddle as much as they like to play. A win-win!

A stuffed toy might look a little different than a traditional cat toy but many felines find them quite enticing. The Hepper Plush Whale serves a dual purpose, featuring a faux fur exterior that mimics prey and a soft interior for cuddling during long cat naps when playtime is over. The best part about it is it's an affordable option for ages, sizes, and conditions. Learn more about why your cat needs a plush here!

Hepper Whale Plush Toy
  • Tailored size even for kittens - the compact size of the whale plush cat toy at 15cm long ensures...
  • Catnip Free Cat Toys - Made with top quality plush exterior & cotton interior, it's perfect for cats...
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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!

7. Laser Pointers

Cat staring on laser
Image Credit: Laurav1984, Shutterstock

You should never use a cat laser toy outdoors or point it out a window, at people, cars, or planes. Cat lasers are indistinguishable from laser sights on guns or more powerful lasers that can cause eye damage, even from long distances. Many places also prohibit the public use of lasers of any kind.

A laser toy should never be pointed at your cat’s eyes, no matter how safe it may seem.

Laser pointers are considered controversial because they can lead to frustration and aggression issues in some cats, as a target that suddenly disappears when a cat is honed in on a chase can lead to your cat suddenly lashing out and biting or scratching you or another animal.

It’s best to consult your veterinarian for more advice before using a laser toy for your cat.

A laser pointer is a cat toy that cats love to use because it ignites their hunting instinct. The small dot moving around makes them want to chase and catch it since they are so powerfully triggered by movement. The color of the pointer does not matter to them because the contrast on the floor is enough; cats are more attracted to the sudden motion of the laser rather than its color.

You can also put paper bags or boxes on the floor to spice the game up. Have the laser pointer “run” into and out of the box or bag to get the cat to use them. Always remember to never shine the light into anyone’s eyes, animal or human, since it can do irreparable damage.

8. Balls

There are so many types of balls, but essentially, you should look for balls large enough to not be a choking hazard; a ball that’s around 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter is best for most cats. Cats will likely be completely uninterested in anything much larger than a ping pong ball, however, this isn’t a strict rule and some cats don’t mind larger balls.

Cats are usually more interested in things that make fun noises or move in distinct patterns. You can get balls with feathers attached or crinkle ball toys. You can also find balls that have small bells in them that jingle as they roll.

Fur-covered toys are great options that allow cats to exercise their natural prey-instincts by mimicking small animals. The Hepper Furball Set comes with two 2-inch faux fur toys each featuring a hidden bell inside. The gentle jingling enhances playtime and will keep your cat, no matter their age, engaged and ready for action! Learn more here! 

Hepper Furball Toy Set
2 Reviews
Hepper Furball Toy Set
  • Multisensory Marvel - Indulge your cat in diverse play with long plush faux fur and a bell with...
  • Double the Fun in Every Pack - Each cat pom pom balls measure 5 cm in diameter and each pack comes...
  • Ideal for Rough Play - Tightly stitched for durability, these pom pom balls for cats can withstand...

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!

9. Toilet Paper Roll

mackerel tabby cat playing with roll of toilet paper
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Another great household option for a cat toy is a toilet paper roll or a paper towel roll. Kittens especially love these possibly because they can attempt to crawl through them. If you have a bigger cat, you can try rolling these around or cutting them into small roles and pushing them around to get your cat to play.

10. Springs

If you are taking the time to play with your cat during the day, you will enjoy using a spring cat toy to get them excited for playtime. You use these to get your cat to chase the bouncing toy. Push them to the ground and angle them away from you. Let it go, and it will shoot away from you and your cat, exactly like prey would in the wild.

11.  Self-Play Toys

silver chinchilla Scottish fold playing toy_schlyx_shutterstock
Image Credit: schlyx, Shutterstock

Self-play toys are almost their category. They are mechanized to make it possible for your cat to play without you. There are a variety of these, depending on the kind of movement that your cat is attracted to and their willingness to play independently.

A concealed motion toy has a blanket or piece of fabric over the top of a wand that branches out from the center. The wand often has some kind of feather or stuffed toy attached. It will zoom around the outside of the fabric, popping out like it’s a mouse hiding underneath, trying to escape.

Turn it on and let your cat play independently. Often, these machines have a turn-off time, so you don’t have to worry about them running out of battery long after your cat has lost interest.

Looking for toys that cater to the many needs of your cat? The Hepper Hi-lo Cat Scratcher is one of our favorite cat products. Its clever thee-angle design offers multiple ways for your cat to climb, stretch, and exercise. Made of a sturdy plywood base and a replacement cardboard insert, this scratcher is an option that can be enjoyed by cats for years to come. If your cat requires a little encouragement for self-play, the Hepper Plush Mouse Kicker is a fantastic choice. Equipped with bite and kick-resistant fabric, an enticing internal bell, and organic catnip, cats can satisfy their natural prey instincts while getting the physical activity they need to thrive. 

Hepper Mouse kicker toy white cat playing on a scratching postscratcher
Hepper Plush Mouse Kicker Toy Hepper Hi-Lo Scratcher
Multi-level play
Multi-level play:
Multi-level play:
Interactive :
Interactive :
Promotes exercise
Promotes exercise:
Promotes exercise:
Replaceable parts
Replaceable parts:
Replaceable parts:
Satisfies prey-instincts
Satisfies prey-instincts:
Satisfies prey-instincts:

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!

Roller Cat Toy

A roller cat toy has multiple levels, each of which has a ball. Each time your cat taps a ball, it rolls around its level, causing your cat to chase it. It is enjoyable when they get more than one of the balls rolling at once.

Fluttering Teaser Toys

Sometimes you might want to take your cat’s playtime up a notch —literally. Try a fluttering cat toy with something like a butterfly or bird attached to one end of a wire that sticks into the air. As they bat at it, it seems like it is flying around them.

Robotic Prey Toys

Cat toy producers are beginning to manufacture automated toys that squeak or move around like an animal actually would. They have batteries securely inside, and the cat can chase them or in a goldfish’s case, even splash around trying to catch them.

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The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding a toy for your cat. While there are many toys out there, there is no “one size fits all” option for a cat. Getting to know your cat as an individual will give you a better idea of their personality and toy preferences. As long as the toy you offer your cat is safe for them, the possibilities are endless!

Related Reads:

Featured Image Credit: winni-design, Shutterstock

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