The 8 Best Cat Toys For Exercise

Whether you have a playful kitten, an older cat that lounges all day, or a kitty dealing with weight-related health issues, the best cat toys for exercise will encourage your feline friend to be active. And keeping your cat active is key: It can help prevent conditions like diabetes while also keeping your cat from getting bored (essential if you want to prevent overeating and behaviors like scratching the furniture). Here are several kinds of cat toys that encourage exercise:

  • Catnip toys will stimulate a burst of energy in your cat that lasts for about 10 minutes, which is a great way for your cat to quickly get some energy out. Keep in mind: Not all cats respond to catnip, and you won’t be able to tell until your kitty has reached about 6 months of age.
  • Interactive toys get you and your cat playing together, which encourages fun and bonding.
  • Food-dispensing toys are perfect for cats that tend to eat too quickly, which can lead to overeating and indigestion (and might leave you having to clean up messes on the floor). While encouraging cats to eat more slowly, they also get some exercise while they’re at it.
  • Hunting toys gratify your cat's hunting instincts. These can take the form of ball toys they can bat and swipe, electronic cat toys that keep your kitty entertained while you're away, and lasers that are fun for your cat to chase (and are entertaining for you). Hot tip: Cats tend to get frustrated by laser toys when there’s nothing physical to catch, so you can make laser toys more rewarding by finishing playtime with catnip or an interactive toy.

By incorporating some of these cat toys into your kitty’s daily routine, you can help them stay physically and mentally healthy, while relieving boredom and stress that can lead to unwanted behaviors.

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1. These Catnip Toys That’ll Tire Your Kitty Out

Filled with potent catnip, these plush catnip mouse toys are perfect if you're trying to tire your cat out before bed. The scent of catnip will stimulate your cat for about 10 minutes, promoting a burst of energy that then quickly wears off. These toys are sturdy, but if your cat does tear into them and eat the catnip, it can cause temporary indigestion. Sold in a pack of three, these toys are just the right size for cats to bat around and carry. A reminder: Catnip doesn’t affect kittens until they’re around 6 months old (and some cats don't respond to it at all).

According to cat owners: “My three cats go CRAZY over these! The cat nip makes them wild, but is perfect to get their energy out before bed.”

2. An Interactive Toy That Encourages Bonding

Owners report that cats can’t seem to get enough of the interactive Cat Dancer toy. This affordable option is made from spring steel wire with rolled cardboard on the end — hold the wire in your hand and your cat will swat, bat, and try to catch it. This wand toy is a great way to get your kitty jumping and moving way while the two of you bond.

According to cat owners: “Honestly, even my large, super lazy, and uncoordinated cat stands at attention when this appears and starts jumping, flipping, and swatting the air as soon as the Cat Dancer is going.”

3. A Tiered Tower That Satisfies Your Cat’s Hunting Instincts

This fun tower cat toy emulates a game of cat and mouse. It features four tiers and four brightly colored balls that spin around the tower when your cat bats at them. The compact tower toy is great for multiple cats to use at the same time, although it’s also fun for solo play. You can get involved by setting the spinning balls in motion and batting them towards your cat, but it works just as well for independent play when you’re not home. There’s a closed top for safety, and a nonslip base to keep the tower in place. The tower also comes in a 3-tier option and is available in five different colors.

According to cat owners: “I bought this product hoping it would entertain rambunctious kittens and thank goodness it worked! One kitten will sit on top batting the first ball and the other will battle it out on the lower levels. They will do this until they fall asleep beside the toy. Even our older cat loves this toy."

4. An Electronic Hunting Toy That Will Entertain Your Cat When You're Not Home

This electronic cat toy is a great choice if you're looking to keep your kitty busy while you're away. It automatically steers itself around the house (while avoiding obstacles) and features five attachment options — a ribbon, two feathers, and ball — that bob up and down as it wheels around. The USB-rechargeable toy works on both carpet and hard surfaces and runs for 10 minutes before automatically powering down for an hour and a half to give cats a rest.

According to cat owners: “I am not with my energetic cat during daytime and she troubles me during sleep at night. This is a great toy to burn some energy for her and runs with full speed on my carpet.”

5. A Digger Toy That Helps Cats Eat More Slowly

This digger-style food-dispensing toy encourages slower eating, which can help improve digestion. The slow feeder toy features various tubes — fill them with dry cat food and your cat will be challenged to retrieve it. You can even rearrange the tubes to create new levels of difficulty for the cat. To get your kitty started, the toy features a tray on the base for leaving out a few treats which will encourage your cat to seek out the rest. When it’s time to clean, the BPA-free toy can be easily disassembled and hand-washed.

According to cat owners: “This allows her to work a little bit for her dinner, which sneakily gives her a little more exercise. And she has to take her time eating because she has to fish out all the little kibbles.”

6. This Toy Ball That Dispenses Treats For Slower Eating

Like the previous option, this food-dispensing toy encourages your cat to exercise and eat slower. Just fill it with dry cat food and a little will be dispensed at a time as your cat chases and bats it. The adjustable openings let you create new challenges, so it'll keep up with your kitty's level of play. This takes up less space than the digger food dispenser, although it is a bit noisier. It's available in several colors and is even top-rack dishwasher-safe.

According to cat owners: “I use it for dry food on the recommendation of the vet, so the cats would have a bit of exercise and some mental stimulation. They have to work a little for their food instead of just scarfing it down.”

7. A Rechargeable Laser Pointer Your Cat Can Chase

The USB-rechargeable laser cat toy will stimulate your kitty's hunting instincts and can be operated from up to 100 feet away away and also features two other light modes beyond classic red: an LED flashlight and a UV light that detects pet stains around the house. However, lasers can frustrate your cat since here’s nothing physical to actually catch. For that reason, it’s a good idea to end playtime by giving your cat stuffed mouse or another toy at the end of it. Also note: You'll want to avoid shining the light in your cat’s eyes and your own eyes, too.

According to cat owners: “Great exercise, really gets em going. [It’s] hysterical to watch them lunging all around.”

8. A Ball Hunting Toy That Also Satisfies Your Cat's Scratching Instincts

Your cat can bat at a ball (a great stand-in for prey) and have an approved place to scratch with this popular scratch pad cat toy. Great for cats who tend to scratch up furniture, the toy features a ball that spins around the perimeter when your cat bats it, along with a scratch pad and some catnip you can sprinkle on top. (You can also purchase replacement scratch pads.) Non-skid feet on the bottom keep it from sliding while your cat plays, and the toy comes in various colors — you’ll receive a randomly selected one.

According to cat owners: “This scratcher is the ideal toy for redirecting my cat when she has the desire to exercise her claws. She gets a good amount of exercise playing stop and go with the ball.”