Most house cats tend to be under-stimulated. This is because unlike their outdoor counterparts, they don't have much natural stimuli indoors to motivate them to get moving. The best interactive cat toys, however, can do what you might not always be able to: Give your under-active feline a reason to stay busy.
Jarring a lazy cat out of their snooze-all-day routine isn't easy, but you can use your pet's favorite activities to your advantage when shopping for cool new toys. For example, if you have a cat that would rather burrow and sleep for hours, you might want to consider a scratching post (sprinkled with catnip, of course) that has a little hideaway nook in it. That way, once your cat has amused themselves by playing, they have somewhere to ball up and rest. On the other hand, if your cat is always bouncing off the walls — literally — then a toy that challenges them to direct all that energy in one place could be perfect.
Whether you're playing with your cat one-on-one or looking to give them options for when you aren't around, interactive toys can be a terrific investment that helps your pet stay happy, healthy, and most importantly, on their paws.
1. Best Overall: This Laser Pointer That'll Give Your Cat Reason To Exercise When You're Not At Home
When it comes to interactive toys, you really need a laser pointer. They're basically the electronic version of catnip for most felines and can stir even the laziest, most sluggish cat into a full-fledged play session. What makes the PetSafe Dart so exceptional is that you don't actually have to be around to make it work, so if you're out of the house a lot and looking for a toy that'll help your cat stay stimulated, it's a must-have. It can be set in variable time limits for up to 20 minutes of playtime, and you can choose between speed settings to find the perfect pace for your cat. Overall, it comes with 16 play combinations and features a 360-degree pattern of laser changes, so they'll literally never know where it's headed next. You can also choose between one laser or two, depending on your cat's energy levels.
2. Best Budget Buy: This Snake-Like Charmer That Cats Just Can't Resist
Cat Dancer Products Rainbow Cat Charmer
A toy you can use with your cat? Check. A toy that is also cheap AF but surprisingly durable? Check, check. This charmer toy needs to go straight into your cart on Amazon ASAP — and not just because it's under $4. This also happens to be a five-star-rated, beloved pick that you're guaranteed to have a fun time using with your pet. Rainbow colored and literally unbreakable, it works with cats of all ages and is excellent for promoting exercise. It's also easy for cats to pick up and bite down on without hurting their teeth, which is another perk. One reviewer raved, "My cat can be pretty picky with toys, but she absolutely loves this. She'll even carry it around with her and drop it in front of me so I'll play with her."
3. Best For Kittens: This Robotic Cat Toy That'll Nurture Your Pet's Hunting Instincts
Hexbug Mouse Robotic Cat Toy
Kittens are naturally pretty spazz-like (it's part of their charm), but it's good to channel that energy into more productive channels. This robotic mouse is a wonderful find for doing exactly that, in addition to helping cats fine-tune their hunting and chasing instincts. Powered by smart technology (and batteries), this little toy skitters around like a real critter would, showing off random and realistic movements. It can also navigate around objects and flip itself over in an attempt to escape your pet's clutches. One reviewer wrote: "Great product! At first the cat was a bit jumpy when the [mouse] moved, but after a few rounds he was [playing] with it nonstop. An hour later he carried it by the tail to a large room with hardwood floors and played on his own for half an hour."
4. Best Scratcher: This Funky Contraption That's Great For Playing And Snoozing In
PetFusion 3-Sided Vertical Cat Scratcher and Post
Your cat rules the house. But just because they've got a whole place to roam around doesn't mean they don't need an extra-special spot to claw and claim for their own, too. Enter: This three-sided cat scratcher and post. Named the Editor's Choice Best New Product of 2014 by Cat Fancy, this multi-functional scratcher also works as a play and chill area, particularly for cats that love to burrow, hide, or stake-out in any stray cardboard boxes you have laying around. Designed vertically to promote scratching, you can also adjust this to make it horizontal. And since it comes with an extra cubby that's really roomy, there's room to stretch out when they're done. To really kick playtime up a notch, sprinkle some of the catnip included here and get ready to laugh your head off as your pet enters pure play time bliss.
5. Best For Multiple Cats: This Track Toy That'll Keep Your Whole Pack Playing Throughout The Day
Bergan Turbo Track Cat Toy
This track toy from Bergan is actually like getting five toys in one, which not only makes it crazy-good for promoting interactive types of play, but also means it's a pretty sweet deal, too. It comes with a track and ball that cats can bat around and chase after. In the process, this can help reduce unwanted clawing, scratching, and other forms of destructive play that cats will turn to when they get bored. But that's just the cherry here: the real sundae is how many ridiculously fun configurations you can put together with the track pieces. Since each piece twist-locks together with any other, there's no limit to what you can do if you have the space for it. This makes this toy a real score for homes with multiple cats, as all your fur-babies can chase it and vie for the chance to bat the ball as well.
6. Best For Treats: This Puzzle Toy That Makes Getting Stimulated The Real Prize
Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze & Puzzle Feeder
With more than 1,400 positive reviews on Amazon, this game and puzzle box really gets your pet thinking in new and exciting ways. It has three difficulty levels, from beginner to top cat, and you can adjust it so your pet builds up to pro status over time. While it's amazing for dispensing treats and giving snack-happy kitties a reason to slow down a bit before gobbling things up, it also works well with toys. This box stimulates a cat's natural instincts to paw and can be good for getting them to think creatively. Unlike other toys that are interactive but designed to promote physical play, this one gets them to think and is good for older cats who can't move around as much. A reviewer described, "At first my [cat] got easily frustrated with this product, and now he loves it so much that he self plays and drops his own toys in it to get them out. I also use it for giving him treats while I'm at work."
7. Best For Biters: This Chew Toy That'll Help Keep Your Pet's Teeth Healthy
Petstages Dental Health Cat Chew Toy
Some cats love to nibble — especially teething kittens — and it's important to have interactive toys around that'll help massage their gums and give them something to comfortable bite. This chew toy is exactly what you need if your cat's a biter, because it's a fun pick that'll stimulate their play instincts as it helps their teeth, too. It cleans teeth, removes soft tartar, and massages simultaneously. What's more, it's filled with irresistible and fibrous catnip stalks that'll satisfy your cat's natural desire to crunch. Knotted streamers attached to this toy make it extra fun to carry around, and while it's lightweight, there's enough to it to ensure pets feel sated after biting down. Durable and colorful, it also comes with netting that absolutely won't unravel, either.
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