Playtime is essential.

Everyone loves watching cats play, right? Watching your cat pounce, leap, twitch, and do flips is an entertaining reminder of their predatory nature and extraordinary agility.

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Play is also a necessary part of your cat’s daily routine.

As natural hunters, cats instinctively stalk, pounce, and attack. Doing so is a way for cats to release energy, get exercise, and keep their brains sharp. For kittens, play is an essential learning process. Play with other cats and people teaches them to exercise claw and bite control while helping them to refine motor skills. The process of capturing prey, be it real or artificial, triggers a dopamine release in your cat’s brain, encouraging feelings of calm and satisfaction.

Whether given designated toys or left to find their own playthings, cats will always discover something to play with. This can lead to destructive behavior, especially for energetic kittens and cats.

Providing your cat designated toys allows them to constructively play and explore, keeping them healthy and happy.

Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at cat toys, identifying the different types of toys available, ways to spot the best toy for your cat, and a list of the 15 best cat toys out there.

Best Cat Toys for 2017

You can almost never have too many cat toys – so don’t hesitate to experiment and try a variety of different toys. There’s a huge selection available today, so whether you’re a traditionalist who prefers simple battable mice or you want to expand into high-tech automated toys, there’s something available for just about everyone.

In the following list of the 15 best cat toys, we’ve included toys from all the above-mentioned categories, so there’s something here for essentially every kitty personality, lifestyle, and activity level.

Fishing Poles/Teasers

Cat Dancer Cat Charmer Toy – $2.99

This fishing pole toy charms with a soft, colorful 4’ long snake-like toy that swirls, twirls, and wriggles irresistibly. Combining high-quality construction with a winning design, this piece is an essential classic toy.

Pros

  • Unbreakable polycarbonate handle for optimal safety
  • The soft material of the toy won’t be destroyed by your cat’s teeth and claws
  • Encourages aerobic exercise for your cat
  • Encourages cat-human interaction
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • The exciting nature of this toy can make some cats aggressive
  • Not a chewable toy
  • Not for independent use by cats

Cat Dancer Original Cat Toy – $2.29

Made with a springy wire and rolled cardboard, the original Cat Dancer toy has a deceptively simple design that’s been home-tested by over 8 million cats and has a solid reputation of excellence. This springy toy allows you to interact with your cat and fully engage in energetic playtime while not requiring much movement on your part.

Pros

  • Tried-and-true design
  • Perfect for people who want to engage in playtime
  • With its responsive, bug-like motion, this toy activates your cat’s hunting instincts
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • No handle – just hold the wire to play
  • Not for independent use by cats

Watch the Cat Dancer in action:

Go Cat Da Bird Original Feather Teaser Wand Cat Toy – $8.79

Da Bird mimics the look, feel, and sound of real bird wings for a playtime experience that taps into your cat’s natural hunting instincts for maximum engagement and energy.

Pros

  • Multicolored guinea feathers are set on a swivel and designed to closely replicate the look, feel, and sound of bird wings
  • 36” flexible pole allows you to control the play experience for cat-human bonding
  • Handmade in the USA

Cons

  • Not very well made and wears out after continued vigorous play
  • Not for independent use by cats

Battables

Ethical Pet Wide Durable Heavy Gauge Plastic Colorful Springs Cat Toy – $1.79

Here’s a simple essential addition to your cat toy collection: these heavy gauge colorful springs bounce erratically in a uniquely enticing motion. These are perfect for kittens and cats who love skittering across the floor in hot pursuit of a lightweight object.

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Pros

Comes in a bag of 10, so they’re perfect for multiple cat households and you’ll have backup toys when they go missing
Vibrant, enticing colors
Encourages your cat to get great exercise while chasing the toys

Cons

May be too large for some cats to carry in their mouths

SmartyKat Skitter Critters Catnip Cat Toy – $1.32

An essential in your cat toy toolbox: great mouse toys. These mouse toys are infused with catnip to drive ‘nip-sensitive cats crazy. The mouse bodies have a soft, biteable texture, while their tails are made with chase-worthy twisted rope.

Pros

  • The perfect size for your cat to bite and carry in their mouths
  • Soft texture feels good on your cat’s teeth and claws
  • Infused with catnip to spark the playful energy
  • According to numerous customer reviews, these are highly-appealing mouse toys that can even excite cats who were previously uninterested in mouse toys

Cons

  • Wears out quickly

Interactive Puzzles & Food Dispensers

Trixie Cat Activity Fun Board 5-in-1 Cat Toy – $24.88

Here’s a mentally stimulating choice that engages your cat’s natural curiosity and desire to hunt for their food. Cats must successfully navigate five different challenge areas in order to access their favorite treats. All of the challenges are designed to stimulate your cat’s senses and challenge their brains. This toy features non-slip pads to keep it in place during play and is dishwasher safe, making it a convenient choice for the home.

Pros

  • Independent play is perfect for cats who are often home alone or who like to play at night
  • Perfect for encouraging food-motivated cats to get active and play
  • Allows your cat to hunt and work for their food just like they would in the wild

Cons

  • If your cat doesn’t get excited about treats, they might ignore this toy

PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Cat Feeder – $3.49

Perfect for overweight pets, this interactive feeding toy brings together mealtime and exercise. This toy forces cats to swat and agitate the ball to gradually release the kibble or treats within, encouraging your cat to distribute their eating throughout the day while getting extra exercise. This stimulating toy activates your cat’s natural hunting instinct, making meals more satisfying.

Pros

  • A great engaging toy for cats who would otherwise eat too much, too quickly
  • Forces cats to get exercise while working for their food
  • Encourages slower eating
  • Made from dishwasher safe BPA-free plastic
  • You decide how much your cat eats – the toy distributes an adjustable amount of food as it bounces and shakes

Cons

  • Some types of kibble may not work with the sizes of the dispensing holes and get stuck or come out too quickly

SmartCat Peek-a-Prize Toy Box – $14.44

Another great challenging cat toy that can help keep your cat mentally and physically fit. The SmartCat Peek-a-Prize Toy Box is a sturdy wooden box with holes in it, through which your cat can fish for their favorite toys or treats. This mentally stimulating toy box comes with two foam spiral balls and can be combined with any appropriately-sized treats or toys.

Pros

  • Durable and strong wooden construction gives this cat toy longevity and elegance
  • Enables your cat to act upon their natural hunting instincts
  • A mentally challenging toy that encourages your cat to use their brain to extract the “prize” from the holes
  • Works with your cat’s favorite toys, treats, and catnip – customize the box to make it exciting for your cat

Cons

  • The box and holes may be too small for larger cats
  • Because it’s made from wood, this isn’t the best choice for using treats that need to be cleaned up after

Laser Pointers

PetSafe FroliCat Bolt Interactive Laser Pet Toy – $17.95

This automatic laser toy takes your laser pointer game to the next level by enabling you to both manually control the laser beam and go hands-free with the device’s random laser patterns. You can use the adjustable mirror to aim the laser across multiple surfaces. Cats go wild chasing the elusive red dot.

Pros

  • Automatically turns off after 15 minutes so you don’t have to remember to shut the toy off
  • This toy allows for both cat-and-human play and hands-free entertainment
  • Encourages your cat to dart and dash about the room in pursuit of the elusive dot

Cons

  • The required 4 AA batteries are not included
  • Because your cat can’t feel the laser under their paws or really catch it, laser beams can be frustrating and unsatisfying toys

Scratchers

Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy – $9.34

Ideal for cats with scratching issues, this toy utilizes a combination of a central scratching area and an engaging outer ball track to create an instinct-satisfying toy that has cats spinning with excitement. Because it doesn’t require any human interaction, this toy is perfect for cats who get bored while home alone.

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Pros

  • Comes with a ball and catnip to keep cats engaged for hours
  • Cardboard central scratching area is replaceable for years of use
  • An extremely popular and well-loved cat toy

Cons

  • Cardboard scratcher isn’t the most sturdy – cats can rip it up
  • Can be noisy

Watch the Bergan Turbo Scratcher in action:

Other Interactive Cat Toys

Catit Design Senses Circuit Cat Toy – $22.46

This toy stimulates all of the senses with lights, sounds, and exciting erratic motion. It features an 8-piece adjustable track through which rolls a fast-moving illuminated motion activated ball. With alternating high and low areas, the track sends the ball on a crazy rollercoaster ride that cats can’t help but want to get involved in. The track features generous-sized holes through which your cat can safely poke at the ball.

Pros

  • The roller circuit can be linked with other track sets to create a complete cat playground
  • Adjustable track means that you can change the shape for a continually exciting play experience
  • With light, sound, and touch activity, this is a truly stimulating toy that will keep your cat on their toes
  • Multiple cats and even dogs can enjoy this toy at once

Cons

  • The battery for the ball is short-lived and can’t be replaced – replacement balls are available instead

Watch the super roller circuit in action:

Petstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy – $13.99

This independent play toy offers three levels of tracks, each equipped with a battable ball that spins and rolls along the track to provide a fun interactive experience for your cat. With non-stick pads to keep the toy in place and balls that are designed to stay on the tracks, this toy is a convenient piece that won’t get in the way.

Pros

  • The smooth movement of the balls along the tracks is enticing and exciting for your cat
  • With three different levels, this toy is perfect for multiple cat homes
  • Sturdily constructed to withstand vigorous play

Cons

  • Sometimes the non-replaceable balls escape the tracks

Petlinks Mystery Motion Concealed Electronic Motion Cat Toy – $21.49

What’s zipping around under the cover? This battery-operated concealed motion toy sends cats into a curious frenzy. An erratically rotating wand spins under the cover, sending a fluffy feather toy dancing about the edges. With four different speed settings and unpredictable motion, this is an independent play toy that doesn’t get old.

Pros

  • Great for independent play
  • Activates your cat’s natural hunting instinct by mimicking the erratic movements of real prey
  • Outer casing is made from recycled plastic, so it can safely be wiped down with a damp cloth for cleaning

Cons

  • Cats can easily pull the feathers off of the wand
  • Doesn’t come with the required 3 AA batteries

A video review of the toy:

Other Toys

Yeowww! Catnip Yellow Banana Cat Toy – $5.03

If your cat is part of the 50% of the feline population who is affected by catnip, they’ll likely go bananas over this powerful catnip-stuffed cotton twill toy. Each of these vibrant yellow bananas is hand-stuffed with 100% premium organic catnip. With durable cotton construction, this hand-sewn banana can withstand plenty of ‘nip – crazed abuse.

Pros

  • Cats love to attack this banana – biting, bunny kicking, batting, and licking it
  • For maximum potency, only the leaves and flower tops of the catnip are used
  • Made from durable cotton twill and dyed with only natural vegetable or soy-based colors
  • Durable design makes it perfect for cats who are rough on toys
  • Individually stuffed, hand sewn, and 100% made in the USA

Cons

  • Not all cats respond to catnip

Tailmate Three Way Cat Tunnel – $26.99

This one is a good choice for multiple cat households – cats can enter from any of the three ends or pop in and out of the top entertainment hole. The tunnel walls are filled with crinkle paper that will get your cats excited to zip through the multiple tunnels, pounce, chase one another, hop out of the top hole, and explore.

Pros

  • Lined with durable polyester fabric that’s designed to be scratch-proof and won’t collect hair
  • Sturdy steel-sprung frame is collapsible, making this toy easy to store and travel with
  • Dangling ball and crinkly sound attract your cat’s attention and get them excited to start playing
  • Soft and durable faux fur exterior
  • Available in six different colors and patterns
  • A great source of independent cat entertainment

Cons

  • The ball tends to break off easily

There are tons of different toys available.

Whether your goal is to engage with your cat for a bonding moment or to keep your cat entertained when you’re away from home, there’s a world of options. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of cat toys available. For each of these categories, we’ll also specify which cats these toys are best for, plus look at the markers of a high-quality toy.

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Fishing Poles/ Teasers

With these toys, you’re the fisherman and you’re reeling in quite the catch – it’s your excited, playful cat batting at the toy hanging from the other end of the pole. These toys are great for those looking for an interactive bonding play experience with their cats. These toys tend to be quite affordable and come in a multitude of different styles.

This is the perfect toy design for cats who tend to play with strings, cables, and other dangling objects.

How to identify a great fishing pole toy:

  • Sturdy pole construction – it’s crucial that the pole doesn’t break
  • Has a delightful design that’s cat tested and approved
  • The swattable, chaseable end of the toy is well-constructed with materials that will withstand hours of vigorous play

Battables

These are typically balls or mice shapes, but we’re primarily talking about small, light objects that your cat can easily bat around the house and chase after. Battables are available in a variety of different materials, although cloth and plastic are the most common types. These toys may squeak or contain bells for audible entertainment.

These are great toys for high-energy cats, like kittens, who like to dash around chasing small objects.

How to identify great battables:

  • Doesn’t have small parts that your cat could choke on
  • Well-made and won’t break or fall apart during play

Interactive Toys / Puzzles

Puzzles make your cat use their brains!

While these toys don’t encourage your cat to run, jump, and flip, puzzles offer great mental stimulation. Most use toys or treats as motivators, forcing your cat to work through a puzzle to release the desired object.

These toys are great for lower-energy cats who aren’t inclined to run and jump to chase after a toy.

How to identify a great cat puzzle toy:

  • Features multiple activity options to keep your cat coming back again and again
  • Utilizes motivators (treats, toys) that your cat loves

Food dispensing toys

Food dispensing toys recognize your cat’s natural propensity to hunt for their food. Taking advantage of cats’ strong food drives, these toys encourage your cat to work for their food. These toys are mentally stimulating and can engage your cat even when you’re not around.

Because they combine eating with exercise, these toys are perfect for cats who are extremely food-motivated and need to lose weight.

How to identify a great food dispensing toy:

  • Ultra-durable materials that can withstand hours of abuse from your cat
  • A design that challenges your cat and forces them to work before eating
  • Easy to clean

Laser pointers

Where did the red dot go and why is it impossible to catch? Laser pointers offer intoxicatingly elusive prey for your cat to chase after for hours. Critics of laser pointers argue that the impossibility of catching a laser beam is unduly frustrating and unsatisfying for cats, who crave the feeling of real, moving prey under their paws and the release of finally catching that prey.

For people with mobility issues, laser pointers make it possible to engage in an active, exciting play session with your cat while sitting in one place. Additionally, some laser pointers can be remotely controlled, making it possible to play with your cat when you’re not even at home.

How to identify a great laser pointer:

  • Choose a laser pointer that best suits your needs – do you want a pointer that you can hold and control manually, one that works automatically with random movements, or both?

Scratcher toys

Scratchable toys integrate scratchable surfaces into an engaging design, encouraging your cat to scratch with their claws while playing. These toys discourage unwanted scratching by giving your cat a healthy outlet for their natural scratching instincts.

This toy is perfect for cats who have a problem with scratching valuable furnishings and objects in the home.

How to identify a great scratcher toy:

  • Made with a sturdy scratching surface that won’t quickly be destroyed by your cat’s claws
  • Incorporates an engaging design that will get your cat excited to play

Now let’s go play!

Playtime is an important part of life, particularly for cats, whose natural hunting instincts make it almost impossible to resist chasing anything that moves. Play is a powerful thing: it helps to relieve stress, prevent boredom, keeps your cat fit, and it also helps them to stay mentally agile. With an incredible array of cat toys available, there’s something out there for almost every cat and household.

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Mallory Crusta

Mallory Crusta offers simple, honest knowledge about natural cat care and products that work so that you can spend less time researching natural cat care and more time having fun with your cat. She blogs about it at WildernessCat.com.

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