To a cat, the world is one big cat toy. So you can put away that credit card, crumple up a piece of paper into a ball and let your kitty knock that around. But there are alternatives. You can make your own toys or go shopping, which is what a lot of us do during the holidays.
Every year Americans spend more than $56 billion on their fur babies, according to the American Pet Products Association. The biggest chunk of that is for veterinary care, food and grooming. But millions of dollars are spent buying toys. In general, dog toys cost more. But a good argument can be made that cat toys are more fun. And that fact is not lost on advertisers who are trying to entice you to buy cool cat toys. Experts say the best toys stimulate your cat and promote exercise. Don’t feel guilty about buying a cat toy. “Play is a vital activity not only for kittens, but adult cats too,” according to the Humane Society of the United States. And veterinarians recommend self play cat toys for cats left alone while you go to work.
Let’s start with five awesome, safe cat toys that are free or cheap and recommended by HSUS. They include ping pong balls, plastic shower curtain rings and plastic golf balls with holes. Try putting the balls in a bathtub, “because the captive ball is much more fun than one that escapes under the sofa.” Empty cardboard toilet paper tubes and paper bags with handles removed are also enticing. Never use plastic bags, because some cats chew and swallow the plastic. Other toys that are hazardous to your cat include paperclips, rubber bands, string, yarn, ribbon and dental floss.
If you want to shop for Mr. Whiskers, here’s a sampling of what’s out there. Let the debate begin about which are worth it, and which are a waste of your money. (Only your cat really knows.) Food dispensing cat toys like Friskies’ Pull ‘n Play should be durable, easy to clean and include healthy treats. They should never be used as a substitute for regular feeding, according to PetMD. If you care about all animals, you might want to avoid buying products made from rabbit fur, which is the case with many toy mice. HSUS also says that “found” toys can be more fun than a toy that is introduced. Rotate cat toys to keep your cats intrigued.
For under $5 you can buy a pack of ten colorful cat springs made by Ethical Pet. Your cat can toss one in the air and carry it around in its mouth.
The Cat Charmer wand and Da Bird Feather Teaser both sell for under $10. They promote aerobic exercise and encourage your cat to leap and pounce. WebMD says you should always put any wand or feathery toys away when you are done and pick up any stray fabric pieces or feathers left on the floor.
A collapsible “crackle” tunnel made by SmartyKat sells for around $12 and is ranked highly by Kittiesinthecity and Comparaboo, which scanned reviews by cat owners. There are many versions of this tunnel being sold. Cats love to explore this mysterious tunnel to nowhere. It’s easy to store. You can sit back and let you cat do the work.
Moderncat likes this Etsy find: the Oh Boy! Cat Toy “Adorable cats toys made from earth friendly fabrics” in the shape of bugs, suns and cat faces.
There’s also the interactive Whack-a-Mouse by Doctors Foster and Smith. It sells for $9 and features a box with holes in the top and a soft mouse on a stick that you can push up through the holes to surprise your cat.