It’s no secret – cats love to play! Play helps a cat to remain fit both mentally and physically. You may have noticed that there is no shortage of cat toys on the market. How do you choose the best ones? Some of it is just trial and error that depends on the personality of your cat, but there are some general tips that can help you find the right toys.
Tip #1: Think like a hunter.
Cats are natural born hunters. They love to practice their hunting skills through play! Cats want toys that they can stalk, pounce, bite, kick, and get their claws into. Choose cat toys that can best imitate a cat’s natural prey: a mouse, a bird, a lizard, an insect, etc. It isn’t just look of the toy (some great toys don’t look like the real prey at all), think about the size and weight of the toy, the sound that it makes, and the way it feels. Can it peek out while hiding? Can it roll, fly, slither or bounce? Can your cat pick it up and throw it around?
Tip #2: Give your cat some variety.
Cats do grow bored with toys sometimes. What was their favorite toy last week may be something they won’t even look at today. Keep a little bin of different cat toys in your home and rotate them once in a while. Rotating can even help to keep your cat’s brain in shape! A variety of different toys can challenge your cat to do something new and/or solve a new problem. Puzzle toys that contain treats can be a great motivator for your cat to get up and get moving.
Tip #3: Use cat toys to create some bonding time.
Play time is a great time to bond with your cat! It can help your cat to see you as fun and trustworthy. For you, the memories can be priceless. With interactive toys, you play the part of your cat’s prey. Unlike solitary toys, this interaction allows your cat to face off against “prey” that can actually react them. Try imitating some of the motions a mouse or a bird might have. Use motions that are some what random and pause for a few seconds occasionally.
Many cat toys can be great for interactive play. Cat toys with long poles are a lot of fun. These toys allow your cat to attack the toy with full force and not cause any injury to you. Even little kitten claws can really hurt! Some cats enjoy “fetching” toys too, so don’t under estimate toys that are easy to toss or roll.
Tip #4: If it is dangerous for a human toddler, it’s probably dangerous for a cat
There are some things that your cat really shouldn’t play with. Here are some a few things to avoid when choosing a cat toy:
Toys that can be swallowed.There is the risk of choking and the potential of some component of the toy being toxic.
- Toys with long stringy parts. Long stringy objects can become very dangerous if swallowed. These can become wrap themselves around in the cat’s digestive tract and cause a lot of pain and trouble. Sometimes very expensive surgeries are required to help cats who swallow strings. The one exception to this is interactive toys in which you are in complete control of the string.
- Toys with paints, coatings, or contents that could be harmful to the cat.
- Toys with sharp edges or parts.
- Toys could be broken during play.
- Toys with parts that could come off during play. Check to make sure that any seams on the toy are sewn well and that any embellishments won’t pull off easily. Sometimes the eyes, ears, or tail on mouse cat toys are not as well attached as they should be!
Tip #5: Great cat toys don’t have to be expensive.
You’ve seen the memes on social media where a cat owner buys an expensive item for their cat and all the cat wants is the box, right? There is some truth to that. Cats love simple toys like these. A milk ring can make a kitty’s day. You can put catnip on toys that don’t already come with catnip on them. Your cat won’t know the difference between cat toys you made yourself and cat toys bought from the store. If you are going to spend money, spend it on the quality of the cat toys and not on flashy things it can do.