Today’s cat toy trends reflect the increasing awareness of pet parents that cats need exercise to stay healthy and maintain their weight, while also meeting their instinct to hunt and play.

Cats can sleep up to 16 hours a day and many spend time staring out windows when they are awake. But any cat owner knows that a kitty can rev up in a split second. A sudden surge of energy may have a cat bouncing off furniture or running through a house at high speed. They may jump in and out of a wash basket (with freshly washed clothes in it, of course) or take over an empty box.

This behavior is natural and mirrors larger felines like tigers that rest up most of the day for the big hunt. A cat’s energy is reserved for hunting, and domestic cats still have the instinct to stalk, chase and pounce on prey.

Toys that offer interactive play can increase the bond between the pet owner and the cat. More innovative cat toys are available, well beyond the catnip stuffed mouse to throw across the room. Some of today’s cat toys offer mental stimulation while encouraging exercise. Keeping a cat engaged and amused will improve its quality of life.

Cat Toy Choices

  • Interactive toys: Cats and their owners can play together with lasers, fetch toys and feather wands, which encourage cats to move and chase.
  • Treat dispensers: By having to work for a treat, cats are mentally stimulated.
  • Puzzles: Cats are mentally challenged to chase a ball, fake mouse or other objects in openings, tracks and mazes inside a box or tube.
  • Sound-making and moving toys: Some examples are squeaking balls, battery-operated tracks and towers, motorized mice and motion-activated balls.
  • Catnip-filled toys: These can keep a cat occupied for an extended period.
  • Tunnels, tents, bags, boxes, playmats: Most cats love to hide and then jump in and out of enclosed spaces for hiding, and they enjoy things that crinkle.

Look for toys that can withstand a cat’s urge to bite, scratch and pounce. The predator instinct in cats during play means they often put toys in their mouths or try to bite them, so be sure a toy is not small enough to be swallowed or have small parts like a bell or plastic eyes. Carefully watch a cat with a new toy to ensure parts won’t be ripped off and swallowed.

Meaningful playtime can keep a cat mentally and physically well. It’s also a de-stressor for pet parents, too!