The Cat Toys Handbook

The Cat Toys Handbook

Sep 21, 2021
21 min

Toys provide both physical and mental stimulation for cats. Playing also helps feed their predator instincts and encourages natural feline behavior like chasing, stalking and catching prey. Even if your cat is confined indoors, the basic instinct to hunt remains strong, and this is an important reason why pet cats should have adequate opportunities to engage in natural behavior through play.

Playing with toys is an excellent way to engage in physical activity. Cats that have access to various cat-safe toys tend to be happy and maintain a healthy weight. Without enough opportunities for play, boredom can set in, creating the perfect environment for the development of undesirable habits, such as destructive behavior and persistent meowing. Play is more than just engaging in physical activity. It has also shown to relieve stress and anxiety. Playtime with your kitty is a perfect opportunity to bond, interact, and strengthen pet-pet owner relationship.

There are countless toys for cats out there, which makes finding the right ones for your pet a big challenge. Just like humans, cats have individual preferences when it comes to toys that they find interesting. Different toys serve different functions, and knowing which ones are best suited for your furball is surely a big help.

If you are looking for great ideas about cat toys, you’ve come to the right place. There is a lot of information about cat toys that you can find in this section.

What Is The Best Toy For a Cat?

Cats love toys that encourage them to engage in hunting and catching prey. Toys that move, look like prey, have appealing textures, and catnip-scented toys are attractive to cats. Also making it to the top of the list are interactive cat toys, wand toys, food dispensing puzzles, game toys, and of course, stuffed toys.

Interactive Toys

Interactive toys provide great physical and mental stimulation for cats. However, it is not recommended for cats to play with interactive toys without supervision as these toys have parts that they can swallow.

Wand Toys

Wand toys most closely mimic the predator-prey behavior of cats. You will most likely observe your cat crouching, pouncing and batting the wand toy as you tease it.

Food Dispensing Puzzle

Food dispensing puzzles provide mental enrichment to cats. Food-motivated cats will enjoy racking their brains to work out the puzzle in order to receive their reward. There are now food dispensing toys designed with automatic self-loading mechanisms and timer-activated food pods.

Game Toys

Cats will surely love game toys because it awakens their strong drive to hunt for prey. These toys encourage cats to chase, pounce, swat, and other natural predator moves.

The bottom line when choosing a toy for your cat is safety. There are cat-safe toys and there are those that may be potential hazards. Understanding your pet’s natural behaviors and need for enrichment are also important factors that you should take into consideration when buying the best toy for your cat. Toys must be large enough so the cat cannot swallow it. Toys with strings, buttons, bells, or small parts may be mistaken for a treat and your cat may try to eat it.

Cat Toys and How to Use Them

Your indoor cat may may used to the sedentary life, but encouraging it to get up and about is important to maintain its health and fitness. Cat toys are designed to feed the predator instincts of cats, provide physical and mental enrichment, and prevent boredom. Playing with toys also keep cats happy and active. Owners should find time to play with their pets as playtime is an excellent opportunity to interact and bond together, but figuring out how to bring out the hunting instinct in your cat may take time.

Catnip may be a good option to trigger your cat’s activeness. You can purchase it as a spray, a sprinkle, or lollipop. Many toys are stuffed with catnip to make them more appealing to cats.The type of material and texture of cat toys may also hold a certain appeal to cats. This is especially true with toys that are soft and plush, cardboard toys, and crinkly toys.

How To Play With Your Cat

Did you know that your pet cat is always looking forward to playtime, especially when they know you will be playing with them? Yes, your kitty benefits from the interaction and bonding when you spend time together, thus it is very important to set a regular time for playing with your pet. Cats love engaging in interactive play because it brings out their natural behavior as predators.

At first, kittens can play rough. With regular interaction and guidance, they will soon learn to play nicely. Setting boundaries early in a kitten’s life is very important to prevent undesirable behaviors as they grow and mature. Kittens love to swat and even nip at hands and toes. Knowing how to play with your hands is the first step to teaching them what is acceptable behavior.

Letting your kitty play with your hands is a No-No. Never use your hands to wrestle or pin down your cat. Your pet should learn that your hands are not toys; they are only used for pats and scratches.

How to Prevent Boredom in Cats

Cats are smart creatures and they will thrive when they have lots of opportunities for physical and mental stimulation, without which, they can become bored. Boredom is a fertile ground for the development of undesirable behaviors. It is recommended to nip these behaviors in the bud before they become a habit.

Cat parents should make an effort to enrich their cat’s indoor environment. Choosing the right toys for your cat, spending time for regular interaction, and installing some kitty furniture are just some ways to keep your cat active and well-stimulated. There should also be vertical spots or spaces where your cat can spend time in and keep watch on its surroundings. A space by the window can also provide a cat with hours of visual stimulation.

Cats can also get bored when playing with the same toys every day. To preserve the novelty of each toy, make a habit of rotating your pet’s toys in order to perk its interest.

Read more for valuable tips when using wand toys during playtime, how to play hide-and-seek with your cat, and how to keep your cat entertained at night.

Cats and Laser Lights – Is it OK to Play With?

Cats are particularly obsessed with that little dot of light at the end of a laser toy or pointer. The movement of the bright light easily catches their attention because it mimics prey movement. Compared to the eyes of humans, cats have more rods in their retina which helps in detecting movement under low-lighting conditions. Against a relatively dark background, the moving bright light is easily picked up by cats, triggering predatory behavior such as stalking, chasing and pouncing.

However, some experts don’t recommend letting cats play with laser lights, as there have been instances of cats developing anxiety and frustration when playing with laser pointers. Without a sense of completion, a cat may develop anxiety, thereby increasing their tendency of displaying aggressive behavior towards their playmates and humans. Other cats lose interest in the laser, as they realize their efforts to catch their prey are fruitless. While reactions vary from cat to cat, you should always be sensitive to your cat’s behavior when using a laser. Read more about why some cats develop anxiety and recommended alternatives to laser pointers here.

How to Make Cat Toys Out of Household Items

Toys for cats don’t always need to be purchased. Try looking around your home and you will find that there are lots of things that you can recycle as toys for your cat, such as toilet paper rolls, a cardboard box, paper sac, wads of paper, etc. If you are feeling crafty, there are easy techniques for making a DIY scratching post and mouse toys. It is an inexpensive and innovative way of keeping your fur kid entertained and physically and emotionally stimulated while keeping them out of mischief.

A scratching post is one of the must-have furniture to have around when you have a cat or two. It provides a “legal” scratching surface for cats while encouraging them to engage in natural scratching behavior. If you have a problem with your cat scratching on furniture, walls, or carpet, you don’t have to buy a scratching post because you can easily make one yourself using materials you can find at home. 

DIY Mouse Toys

Cats can’t just resist mouse toys. Thus, there are gazillions of mouse toys in various colors, designs, sizes, and material that are available in stores. But you can easily make mouse toys for your cat using wool felt, floss, and stuffing. You can add some dried catnip to the stuffing to make it more appealing to your pet cat. Click here to find out how!

DIY Sock Fish Cat Toy

This cat toy is very easy to do. Even kids can do it! You can finish it in 5 minutes. The packing paper stuffed inside the sock makes a crinkly sound that cats love. Adding some catnip inside the sock can also make it more appealing to your kitty. You can find the instructions here.

DIY Catnip Yarn Balls

Cats love scratching balls of yarn. Unlike smooth surfaces, the material is pleasant enough for the cat to hold on to. Playing with yarn balls can help ease anxiety in cats. In fact, yarn balls are an age-old cat toy and even though they don’t cost much, these balls can entertain cats longer than any other toy does. Here’s an easy way to make catnip-infused yarn balls. All you need is yarn, glue, catnip, and Styrofoam balls to make these simply irresistible toys.

DIY Treat Puzzles

Treat puzzles are excellent interactive toys for self-play opportunities. Your cat will spend a lot of time and effort figuring out how to get the kibbles and treats out from inside the rolls of tissue that have been glued together to form a puzzle. You can use several empty toilet paper rolls and glue to make a DIY treat puzzle.

DIY Catnip Pillow

Cats love to spend time lazing around. In fact, they spend more than 16 hours sleeping and napping, something that has to do with their predator instincts that they have inherited from their wild ancestors. Having a soft cat pillow can make sleeping time more comfortable. A catnip-filled pillow can also be stimulating for cats. You can put it by the cat’s window perch so he can sit on it as he basks under the warm sun or watch the world outside. Here is an easy way to make a catnip pillow.

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