Cats toys are playthings designed specifically for your cat to engage, entertain, and stimulate your feline friend’s Instincts and behavior. Cat toys are critical for providing physical and mental stimulation, preventing your cat from getting bored, and encouraging indoor cats to exercise more. The right choice of a toy can also help to develop the bond between you and your furry friend, which is extremely important for your cat training sessions.
In this guide, you’ll learn about the importance of cat toys for training your pet, different types of cat toys, how to choose the right toy for your pet, what are safe toys, and those to avoid. In addition, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about cat toys.
So, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about choosing the perfect type of cat toy for your feline friend!
What is The Importance Of Cat Toys In Training?
Cat toys provide a crucial role in training cats for many reasons, such as encouraging your cat to exercise, keeping her mentally alert, offering comfort and safety, and helping you and your cat bond.
Well-chosen cat toys can serve as a training reinforcement tool and even improve behavioral issues. Here’s why cat toys are so important!
Provide Physical Exercise
As some cats get older, they can become lazy, preferring to spend their days snoozing in a comfy bed rather than taking exercise. That can lead to health problems for your feline friend, including obesity.
Cat toys can encourage your cat to get more exercise while having fun, so that’s a win-win!
Deliver Mental Stimulation
Cats are intelligent creatures that need mental stimulation as well as physical exercise, and a puzzle toy can encourage your cat to think, keeping her mentally alert, which is especially important in older cats.
Serve As Training Reinforcement
Cat toys, such as lures, laser pens, and target sticks, are useful as training aids for your feline friend.
You can use a laser pen or target stick to encourage your cat to change direction or go to a specific spot. In addition, your cat will enjoy a playtime break from training, and toys like balls, lures, and puzzle games can provide that.
Help In Bonding
Whenever you interact with your cat, you’re building and strengthening your bond, and toys can provide a crucial tool in that process.
For example, one of my cats loves the laser pen I bought for them and hooks it off the table to “ask” me to play with him when he’s in the mood for a game.
Improve Behavioral Issues
Some toys, such as scratching posts, are extremely useful in helping to prevent bad behavior. For example, one of my cats had a habit of sharpening his claws on my doormat until I bought a scratching post, which he quickly learned to use instead.
Offer Comfort And Safety
Sometimes, cats from shelters or rescue centers feel insecure and afraid in a new environment, and some plushy, heated toys can help to provide something for your pet to snuggle up to and feel safe and warm.
What Are Different Types Of Cat Toys?
There are lots of different types of cat toys to choose from, and it can be confusing to know what to buy. In this part of our guide, we will provide an overview of the different types of cat toys you’ll find in your local pet store.
Interactive Cat Toys
Interactive cat toys are designed to encourage owner/pet play and bonding. Many owners use interactive toys during their cat’s training sessions, too.
Interactive toys include laser pointers, fishing pole-style lures, and other items the owner must operate to encourage their cat to play. Even a ball containing a bell can qualify as an interactive toy if the owner throws it for their furry friend!
A laser pointer is a simple, battery-operated pen-shaped device that produces a beam of light when you press a button on the device. The idea of this toy is that the cat chases and tries to catch the light.
Wands/Fishing Pole/Feather Teaser Toys
These toys are great for encouraging lazy cats to do more exercise! Basically, the toy has a feather lure on the end of a cord that you move around for your feline friend to chase.
A robotic mouse is a furry mouse-shaped or rat-shaped toy that you can move around using a remote control device.
Although some cats love these toys, mine were actually quite afraid of the noise the toy made when it rolled across the floor and wouldn’t play with it. My puppy, however, loves it!
Chasing And Pouncing Toys
A cat’s natural instinct is to chase things and pounce on them, which is bad news for the mice in your garden! These toys encourage your cat to indulge in that natural behavior, providing environmental enrichment for your pet.
There’s a huge range of ball toys designed for cats, including balls with bells inside, fluffy balls that squeak, scrunchy balls, and even rubber balls that bounce!
Some cats enjoy playing with toys that squeak, and there is a huge range available to choose from. These toys are often stuffed with or scented with catnip to encourage your cat to play.
Many indoor cats enjoy playing with toys that include feathers in their design, allowing them to indulge in natural behavior without decimating the songbird population in your back garden!
Cat Hunting Toys
Cat hunting toys do pretty much what they say on the tin, allowing your cat to hunt something small and furry without harming any living creatures.
Puzzle And Treat-Dispensing Toys
These toys are excellent for providing your cat with mental and physical stimulation simultaneously and are a great idea for cats that are treat-motivated.
Treat balls are simple devices that you fill with your cat’s favorite high-value edible treats. The cat pushes the ball around, causing treats to drop out randomly so that she gets her reward for working out the puzzle.
Puzzle box toys demand that the cat works out how to access the food treats hidden within the box. These toys are a great idea for cats that suffer from separation anxiety when left alone.
Interactive Food Mazes
Interactive food maze toys work in a similar way to puzzle toys in that you hide treats within the maze, and the cat has to work out where they are and how to get access to the reward.
Senior cats, kittens, and those from shelters sometimes need a toy that offers comfort and security. These toys can also benefit cats recovering from illness or surgery.
Soft Plush Toys
If you have a very young kitten, a senior cat, or a pet recovering from an illness or surgery, a soft plushy toy is the perfect choice to comfort her.
Young kittens, arthritic senior cats, and felines that are recovering from illness or surgery will all appreciate the comfort of a heated toy to cuddle or a blanket to rest on.
Catnip Infused Toys
Cats love the smell of catnip! In fact, if you grow this plant in your garden, you will no doubt find your feline friend rolling around in it whenever she gets the chance.
Catnip-infused toys are incredibly useful for cats that get stressed during training sessions, as the smell of the herb seems to have a relaxing effect on them.
As mentioned earlier, there is a vast range of cat toys to choose from, and here are some cat toys that don’t fit into the categories above.
Cat Chew Toys
When kittens are teething, they tend to like to chew things. My two kittens enjoyed chewing wiring, my clean laundry, and my house plants! You can help to prevent that undesirable behavior by providing your cat with a chew toy.
All cats love to climb, and if you have an indoor cat, there’s no reason why she should miss out on the action! To discourage your cats from climbing on your furniture, shelving, and countertops, you can invest in one of the many climbing toys that are available on the market.
Cat scratching posts are usually made from sturdy materials covered with sisal that your cat will have hours of fun scratching. Scratching posts and mats are highly recommended as training tools to correct undesirable behavior, such as scratching your furniture or floor coverings.
Of course, you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on expensive cat toys. Some household items can make great toys for cats, including empty toilet rolls, cotton reels, and homemade woolen pom-poms.
Use your imagination to create homemade toys for your cat, but remember to keep them safe, avoiding string and small items your cat could swallow.
If you have ever seen a cat with a mouse or bird that she has caught, you will probably have seen her grabbing onto the unfortunate creature and kicking it with her hind feet.
Kicker toys are designed to replicate that behavior and are often scented with catnip.
How To Choose The Right Toy For Your Cat?
Choosing the right toys for your cat is essential if you and your pet are to get the maximum benefit at playtime.
Cats are individuals with different tastes in toys and games, so it’s down to you to work out what excites your kitty and holds her interest, which is especially important when using toys as training aids.
You’ll typically need different toys for kittens, adults, and senior cats.
For example, a kitten might be fascinated by a robotic mouse toy or a simple sparkly ball containing a bell, but a complex treat puzzle might be too much for her. However, a senior cat would probably get more value from a puzzle maze than a hunting toy.
Consider The Style Of The Toy
Similarly, you need to consider your cat’s personal preferences. Some felines love the thrill of the chase and will get a lot out of a laser toy or a cat teaser wand, whereas a senior cat with arthritis would probably prefer something less frantic, such as a plushy toy or a treat puzzle.
Size Of The Cat Toy
The size of the cat toy you buy should correspond to the size of your cat and, to some extent, the space you have available in your home.
For example, although your cat might love the idea of a 6-foot by 8-foot climbing Tower, that is simply not practical if you live in a small apartment.
Safety And Durability
You should always consider your cat’s safety when buying a new toy.
For example, you don’t want to give your cat something with pieces that could drop off and be swallowed.
In addition, you want a product that is going to last and not fall to bits within a few hours of you giving it to your cat.
Figure Out Your Cat’s Preference
All cats have different preferences when it comes to toys, so before you part with your cash, it’s crucial to figure out what kind of toy your cat will get the most value from.
Texture Of The Cat Toy
Consider what kind of texture you want the cat’s toy to have. For example, if you have a kitten that wants to sharpen her claws on everything she touches, the best choice of a toy would be something with a tough, resilient cover.
Cats have an extremely acute sense of hearing, and many respond well to toys that make a sound, such as a squeak or a bell.
When my cats were kittens, they loved chasing after a ball containing a bell, although they didn’t like toys that made a very loud squeak. Although not strictly toys, cat TV channels on Youtube often feature birds fluttering and chirping or squeaking mice, and both my cats love them!
How The Cat Toy Moves
In my experience, the best cat toys are those that move realistically to mimic a fluttering bird. Most cats love to chase and leap as they try to catch a feather lure as it flies around on the end of the cord, so bear that in mind when choosing a toy for your cat.
If you decide to buy a mechanical toy, a battery-operated one, or a laser pen, I recommend testing it before you take it home. Most good pet stores will happily allow you to ensure everything works before you part with your cash, which can save you a frustrating return journey later.
What Cat Toys Should You Avoid?
Cat toys to avoid are those that present a danger to your cat, or that could encourage undesirable behaviors.
For example, cats are very good at finding scraps of thread to play with, but if swallowed, a length of string can be deadly.
If you take a look at the following list of potentially dangerous household items your cat might decide to play with, you’ll see how important it is to keep those things out of the kitty’s reach.
String, Elastic Yarn, Ribbon, Or Dental Floss
Don’t allow your cat to play with string, ribbon, elastic yarn, or dental floss!
If your pet swallows these items, you could be looking at a trip to the vet clinic and possibly surgery! The string can cause choking or become tangled around parts of the cat’s intestine, potentially leading to serious health problems.
If your cat swallows a paper clip, she could choke, and the tiny piece of metal or plastic could cause serious digestive problems if your cat doesn’t pass it naturally.
If swallowed, a rubber band can cause serious digestive problems, such as intussusception.
Intussusception is the term used to describe a fold in the cat’s intestine that causes blockage and inflammation. The condition can affect the area where the small intestine connects with the colon or large intestine, often resulting in an expensive vet visit and much discomfort for your cat.
So, throw any rubber bands away so your cat can’t get hold of them.
A swallowed feather can pose a choking hazard to your cat or lead to gastrointestinal issues, which could require urgent veterinary attention. In addition, some cats are allergic to feathers and could suffer from skin irritation or respiratory problems when coming into contact with them.
Finally, feathers from toys might have sharp edges that could injure your cat’s mouth, throat, or digestive tract if bitten or swallowed. So, although most cats love feathery toys, I recommend you supervise your furry friend if she’s playing with one.
Plastic bags can be fascinating to cats because of the sound they make. However, a plastic bag can present a choking hazard, and your cat might even suffocate if she climbs inside the bag and can’t get out.
Toys With Small Parts Inside
Toys containing small parts can present a choking hazard to your pet if the outside of the toy becomes damaged, allowing her to access loose pieces inside.
Toys Small Enough For Your Cat To Swallow (Such As Sparkle Balls)
Again, be very wary of allowing your cat or kitten to play with a small toy that she could swallow. Tiny toys can present a choking hazard as well as cause an obstruction in the cat’s digestive system.
Bottle caps present a choking hazard to your cat and could cause a dangerous obstruction in her bowel if she swallows one.
Keep an eye on stuffed toys if they become ripped, allowing the stuffing to escape. Stuffing can be potentially toxic and also presents a choking hazard to your cat, so be sure to throw out and replace any damaged stuffed toys immediately.
How To Ensure Safe Use Of Cat Toys?
You can ensure that your cat’s toys are safe by inspecting them regularly for damage and supervising your cat during play and training sessions. Always buy toys of the correct size for your cat or kitten, and avoid those with small parts that your pet could ingest.
Discard any damaged toys, store them safely where they won’t get damaged, and take the time to clean dirty toys that could harbor bacteria.
Regular Inspection Of Toys
Make regular inspections of cat toys a part of your routine. That way, you can keep an eye on their condition and discard any damaged and potentially unsafe items.
Proper Supervision During Play
Supervise your cat when she’s playing with her toys so that you can intervene and prevent accidents.
Buy toys that are the right size for your cat so that she doesn’t have access to something too small that she might choke on.
Avoiding Small, Ingestible Parts
When choosing cat toys, avoid those with small ingestible parts that your cat could swallow and choke on.
Rotating Toys To Prevent Boredom
Instead of giving your cat the same toys to play with every day, rotate them around so that she doesn’t get bored and resort to using household objects as playthings. That could encourage undesirable behavior, such as scratching your furniture or shredding your drapes!
Cleaning Toys Regularly
Your cat’s favorite toys can quickly become a trap for bacteria that could harm your cat, especially if she takes them outside. So, make it a habit to wash or clean your furry friend’s toys when they start to look grubby.
Discarding Damaged Toys
Damaged toys are a potential hazard for your cat, so discard any that are showing signs of wear and tear and surprise your pet with a new plaything to entertain her.
Understanding The Cat’s Play Behavior
Cats play in different ways. Some felines enjoy chasing things, while others love to solve a treat puzzle to get a tasty reward for their efforts, and by understanding your cat’s play behavior, you can provide safe, enriching toys for her to play with.
Limiting Use Of String Toys
As mentioned above, string toys are great fun but can also present a danger if your cat swallows them. Keep your cat safe by limiting her use of string toys and closely supervising her when she is playing with one.
Using Laser Pointers Safely
Laser pointers make fabulous cat toys, encouraging physical exercise and helping to stimulate your cat’s natural instinct to chase things. However, you should be aware that a laser can cause serious damage if it is pointed directly at your cat’s eyes.
So, always be fully aware of where your cat is in relation to the laser pointer, and do not allow young children to play with the device since they could accidentally harm themselves and your pet.
Ensuring Safe Storage Of Toys
Cat toys that are littered all around your home can present a serious tripping hazard, especially when left on stairs and slippery floors. I recommend buying a large box with a well-fitting lid in which to store your cat’s toys and put them away when she is not playing with them.
Did you know you can train your cat to retrieve particular toys and bring them to you? That’s a handy trick that you can use to help your cat tidy away her toys!
Avoiding Human Toys For Cats
Human toys designed for kids are generally unsafe for cats because they often have small parts that can be detached, chewed, and swallowed. Make sure your cat has a wide range of her own special toys, and keep them separate from your children’s.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about different types of cat toys.
Why Do Cats Need Toys?
Cats need toys to encourage them to do physical exercise and provide them with mental stimulation to prevent boredom. If your cat is bored, she is more likely to display destructive behaviors, including becoming destructive around your home.
Cat toys, such as puzzles, can give your cat something to do when you’re not around, helping prevent separation anxiety. Many cat toys encourage natural behaviors, such as chasing, hunting, and scratching, without danger to your local wildlife or home furnishings!
Finally, insecure cats, kittens, seniors, and those rescued from shelters often appreciate a soft, snuggly toy to cuddle up with on a cold night.
What Does A Cat Need To Be Happy?
There are a few things that are essential for a cat’s happiness, including the following:
- Food and water
- Veterinary attention when required
- Environmental enrichment
- Mental and physical stimulation
- A feeling of safety and security
- A regular routine
- A selection of stimulating toys
- A safe outdoor environment (if appropriate)
Add to that an owner’s love and affection, and you have a feline Utopia!
When Do Cats Stop Playing?
Some cats carry on playing long into their teenage years. I once owned an 18-year-old cat that loved to chase butterflies in my garden and could be tempted to play with a lure.
That said, every cat is different, and some seniors prefer to relax, enjoying some simple training sessions instead of dashing around chasing a laser pen as they did in kittenhood.
What Toys Do Kittens Like?
Kittens love all kinds of toys, although most are too young to understand puzzle toys and are happiest with simple toys, such as balls, kickers, lures, and laser pens. Again, every kitten is different, so it’s up to you to experiment and learn what your pet prefers.
How Many Toys Should A Cat Have?
There’s really no limit to the number of toys a cat should have! That said, you generally find that most cats have a favorite toy they always go back to when they want to play. Kittens tend to have more toys than adult cats because their owners spoil them and buy dozens of different toys as they get to know their pet’s preferences.
There are many different types of cat toys, including interactive toys, chasing and pouncing toys, comfort toys, and more. It doesn’t really matter what kind of toys your cat has or how many, as long as they’re safe and cleaned regularly to keep harmful bacteria at bay. However, as a general rule, it’s best to stick to providing proper cat toys for your pet rather than using human items, which could present a risk of choking if swallowed.
When it comes to choosing the best toy for your cat, it’s up to you to experiment with different types of cat toys to find the ones your pet loves the most.
Why not check out some of the toys we’ve suggested in this guide? You’re sure to find one your feline friend absolutely loves!