Despite the cat’s domestication over thousands of years by humans, cats are made for the jungle life in which they hunt, catch, and eat prey to survive. Your house cat may not have to hunt for their food like their counterparts in the wild, but these underlying instincts are still very much alive.
The best way to exercise them and keep your feline friend as happy as they would be out in nature is by incorporating cat toys into their domestic life. In this article, I will be telling you all you need to know about the best cat toys for your kitty.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Cat Toys
There are a lot of pet accessory manufacturers selling cat toys out there. If you just got yourself a cat, all the choices available to you on the market might be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what to look for in a cat toy.
If this describes you, don’t sweat it, I’ve got you. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when you are buying your kitty some toys.
When you are buying your kitty some toys, think about how long the toy can keep your cat engaged. Some toys will pique a cat’s interest for just a short while, and then they will leave them alone and go play with something else or lay in some corner of the house. These are not ideal.
The key to getting the most engaging cat toy for your feline is getting to know them and knowing what kind of toys pique their interest best. Some cats, especially the younger ones, are very playful, and even the simplest of toys will solicit a lot of action from them. Others are very choosy when it comes to toys.
Ideally, you want to buy a cat toy that holds your cat’s attention for a considerable amount of time without them getting bored.
Interactive Toys vs. Solo Play
If you leave your feline friend alone in the house a lot when you go to work, you need to get them toys to keep them engaged and busy when you are not around. In this case, you will need toys with which they can play safely in your absence.
If you are looking to have some playtime with your cat, on the other hand, interactive toys are your best bet. You can grab yourself the best cat wand, for instance, for some interactive playtime. It helps your cat exercise, and you get to get off the couch, as well.
This is one of the most crucial factors as far as buying cat toys go. You want to make sure you buy toys made of pet-friendly materials.
Also, when you buy predatory cat toys like the mice and balls, keep in mind that your cat is going to try and eat them after they catch the pretend prey. This is why they run after them in the first place. For this reason, ensure that these types of cat toys have no small parts that your cat can bite and choke on.
Your Cat’s Preferences
If you want to get it right as far as cat’s toys are concerned, you have to take time and observe your cat. Take notice of what they like and what they don’t.
If you are buying your kitty a scratcher toy, for instance, observe your cat and take note of their scratching habits. Some cats scratch on horizontal surfaces with their butts in the air, almost in the position dogs take when stretching. For such cats, a horizontal scratcher would be ideal.
Cats that prefer to scratch vertical surfaces, on the other hand, would be best suited with a vertical scratching post.
This applies to other types of cat toys as well. To get the most suitable one, you will have to observe your cat for a while and figure out what stimulates them.
Your Cat’s Age
Knowing your cat’s age is crucial when you want to get them suitable toys. Generally, younger cats will have a lot of energy and are more playful than their older counterparts.For the younger active cats, more complicated toy models will match their robust energy. Older cats, on the other hand, might prefer simpler toys as they are not as active.
Cat toys go through a lot of scratching and being kicked around by playful cats. If you want one that’s going to stand the test of time, you need to get one made using strong materials that can withstand this kind of assault. Remember that the materials should be cat friendly, too.
Just like any other kind of shopping, you must make sure you find the best cat items that fall within your budget range. There might be some expensive elaborate toys on the market that you can get for your kitty. However, it’s likely your cat will play with the simplest of the toys and have the most fun.
While it’s natural to want to spoil your feline friend, it’s only reasonable that you do so within a budget.
Catnip vs No Catnip
Catnip is a plant in the mint family that is loved by some cats for its stimulating effects. Cats are affected differently by catnip. About half of the cats are not affected by catnip at all. For those cats that are affected by catnip, the reaction can vary from getting overly calm and relaxed, sedated almost, to getting hyperactive and aggressive.
What you ought to know about catnip is that it’s been vet-approved and is completely safe for your kitty. There are no health risks, and it’s not addictive, either. Depending on how your cat reacts with catnip, you might want to restrict playing with catnip toys.
Automated vs. Manually-Operated Cat Toys
Whether you get your cat an automated toy or manual one will depend on whether they play alone most of the time or if you play with them.
If you are looking for a toy to keep them entertained when you are out of the house for work, automated toys will work perfectly. If you are looking for an interactive toy for the both of you, a manual one such as a cat wand will do the best job.
If you have all these factors in mind when toy shopping for your cat, you will get the most suitable ones.
Types of Cat Toys You Will Find on the Market
If you just got a cat and are thinking of getting them a toy, here are a few categories of toys you can choose from.
Laser toys involve shining a laser beam on the ground and moving it when you capture your cat’s attention to encourage them to chase it.
This works great if the aim is to get your cat active physically. While that is great, cats need to satisfy their urge to capture and kill prey. Laser beam toys don’t provide this satisfaction, and it can be aggravating for your cat.
To avoid this, you can toss a ball in the way of the laser beam or lead the cat towards a physical toy. This makes the laser toys much more wholesome.
Cat Wand Toys
Cat wands are usually rods with a string and some kind of attachment on the other end. They allow you to play and have a good time with your feline friend. You are usually in control over how challenging or easy the hunt will be.
While you shouldn’t make it outright easy for the hunter, make it challenging enough that your cat has to struggle for the catch. Allow them to catch the pretend prey once in a while to give them the satisfaction that comes with catching some prey.
Feeder Cat Toys
In the wild, cats have to hunt for food. These toys use that principle by rewarding your cat with some treat when your cat rolls them over or kicks them around. These toys are a great way to get your cat some physical exercise as you feed them at the same time.
The only drawback of these toys is that they work almost exclusively with dry food. While there is nothing wrong with feeding your kitty dry treats, a cat cannot rely entirely on a dry diet. You need to diversify their meals.
Ball and Mice Toys
When it comes to stimulating a cat’s hunting and killing instincts, ball and pretend mice play the best role. They give your kitty the satisfaction of catching and killing tangible prey.
When you are buying such toys, however, make sure they don’t disintegrate into small parts that your cat can choke on. Furry balls and mice are not advisable, either, as the fur might get loose when your cat chews on these toys. Swallowing this fur may not be good for your cat.
The need for your cat to scratch is not malicious. While cats may seem like they are evil masterminds at times, some of their behaviors we consider destructive, like scratching, are entirely natural. In the wild, cats need to keep their teeth and claws sharp for tearing into prey’s flesh.
While you might argue that house cats don’t need sharp claws as you provide them with food, the need to hunt, kill, and eat is engraved in their DNA. Instead of discouraging it, you should get them scratcher toys and encourage them to shift their scratching to the scratchers and away from the furniture.
Scratchers come in terms of poles, discs, and some horizontal surfaces. You should choose one depending on your cat’s scratching habits.
The best catnip toys are small animal-shaped toys with catnip in them for your cat to sniff. Whether to get your feline catnip toys or not will depend on whether they get stimulated by catnip.
Why Do Cats Need to Play?
You might be asking, “I feed my cat, I provide a home for them and the protection they need, but why do I need to get them toys? Why is it important that they play?” Well, the answer to that question is that play for cats is an essential part of their wellbeing, just like food and a safe home are. Here are the reasons why cats need to play.
Exercise and Fitness
House cats don’t do much around the house. If all you do is feed them, they are bound to become overweight. By jumping and running after toys around the house, they get to exercise and burn some calories. This is the only way house cats can avoid some weight-related health problems like obesity.
Cats can be a bit aloof, unlike dogs who claim human connection and touch. If you know how to leverage playtime with your kitty, however, you can strengthen the much-needed bond between you and your feline companion.
For this, you will need to get some interactive cat toys like cat wands that involve you in the cat’s play.
Exercise a Cat’s Hunting Instincts
Cats are natural predators. While you don’t have to take your kitty out in the wild for a hunting experience, they still need to exercise those hunting instincts if you don’t want to have some behavioral problems with them.
Get your cat toys that resemble prey like mice and allow your cat to exercise their reflexes, and if you will, let the crazy out. When you are playing with your cat using interactive predatory toys, you are supposed to make it hard to catch the pretend prey for your cat but don’t frustrate them at the same time. Let them catch the pretend prey once in a while.
Avert Destructive Behavior
Some destructive things cats do, like scratching, are instinctive. By getting them a scratcher and encouraging them to use it, you save your furniture and curtains or window sills the scratching. This way, you are happy, and your kitty is happy too, and you have the perfect situation.
Helps with Mental Stimulation
It might seem okay that your cat feeds and goes back for a lazy nap to their favorite spot. While this might be okay in the short term, the boredom will have a negative psychological effect on your feline in the long run. They might become aggressive over time and generally irritable. Playtime is crucial for their mental stimulation and mental wellbeing.
Kittens Learn Through Play
Kittens are most playful when young. It’s through this play that the kittens learn important survival skills, like body coordination, stalking, and hunting skills, among other crucial skills.
Other Cat Accessories to Consider
If you just got yourself a feline companion, you might not know what other accessories you will need to get for them. Here is a list of the best cat stuff you will find useful.
A Litter Box
If you just bought or adopted a feline, one of the most crucial cat items you ought to bring home with you is a cat’s litter box. You must train the kitty to use it right off the bat, especially if they are a kitten and are just now starting to learn how to use the litter box.
There are different kinds of litter boxes you can get on the market for your cat. Some self-cleaning litter boxes sweep the poop away as soon as your kitty poops. While these are easy maintenance types of litter boxes, the automation may scare the cat, and they might have a hard time getting used to them. They are also very pricey.
The other category of litter boxes are the ones with a lid that opens when your cat approaches and closes when they are done using them. If your cat can get used to this kind of litter boxes, it’s good as they help manage the odor making maintenance easier.
The final category of litter boxes is the traditional open box with cat litter where your cat helps themselves. While these might be the most natural and cheap choice you will find on the market, they also need a lot of work to maintain.
If your kitty ever gets lost, they will need to be wearing a tag if they are to be found and brought home. Consider getting them a collar and an ID tag for easy identification if it ever comes to it. Remember to indicate their address or contact information on the tag as a beacon for whoever finds them.
Nowadays, you can also find GPS pet trackers on the market that allow you to track the exact location of your pet in real-time. You can get your kitty such a tracker if you want to relax and never have to worry about losing them.
Cat Crate or Carrier
For your kitty’s first trip home, you will need to get them a cat carrier. You will also need it whenever you have to move them from home to some other place.
A pet carrier should be well ventilated and comfortable for your kitty when in transit. You can also get a crate on the market that doubles as a carrier and a bed or crate for them to hang out in, as well as sleep.
This might seem obvious to you if you already have a cat, but if you are bringing a cat home for the first time, it’s easy to forget even the most basic of items that you need to bring home with you when you have so much you need to remember.
When you are shopping for your kitty’s food, consider getting the food they were being fed at the shelter if you are getting them from an animal shelter. This might help make the move easier on them by keeping it constant. With time, you can change their food brand. Just don’t completely change everything for them all at once. It might be a bit stressful and difficult for them.
Water and Food Bowls
Remember, you will need water and feeding bowls for your cat where you will feed them from. You should always clean them at least once a day to keep them clean.
Apart from cat toys, these are some of the most important kitty items you will need when you bring your new feline friend home.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Cat Toys
Are Catnip Toys Safe for Your Cat?
The short answer is yes. Catnip is completely safe for your feline friend. If your cat enjoys sniffing catnip, go ahead and get them some catnip toys and let them enjoy the bliss that comes with it.
Why Does My Cat Put Their Toys in the Water?
Cats like putting their toys in the water for some reason. Currently, we have no conclusive evidence that might suggest what that reason might be. Maybe they put them in the water to soften them to see whether they could become chewable.
Why Does My Cat Keep Bringing Their Toys to Me in Bed?
Just like in the wild, when big cats make a kill and bring their catch home, your cat could be bringing their toys to you to signify bringing their kill home. They could also be doing it as an invitation for you to play with them. There is no scientific explanation for it.
Cat toys are an integral part of any cat’s life. If you don’t let your cat out especially, or you have to leave them alone for hours at a time as you go to work, you will need cat toys to keep them engaged physically and stimulated mentally.
If it’s your first time bringing a feline home, I hope this article helped get you your first collection of cat toys and cat essentials.