8 Best Cat Toys | March 2017

You know what they say: "The devil makes work for idle hands." And it's also true for idle paws! Give your cat something safer and more fun to do than scratching your furniture with one of these inventive and safe cat toys. Skip to the best cat toy on Amazon.
8 Best Cat Toys | March 2017

Overall Rank: 6
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 5
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 7
Best Inexpensive
The Zanies Fur Mice come in a pack of twenty and are made of real rabbit fur to mimic your cat's natural prey as closely as possible. The pack's large unit count is key, as cats are masterful at hiding toys away forever.
The Bergan Turbo Scratcher, with its track and ball design, will provide hours of fun for your furry companion, and will also help take the edge off their claws at the same time. The textured pad is replaceable once it wears down.
The Catit Play Circuit is designed to incorporate all of your cat’s senses while he or she plays. It includes a scratch pad, a play area, and a massage center, so, ideally, this toy should entertain and then relax your cat.
The Prevue Catville Tower has everything needed to keep multiple cats entertained and happy, including hanging toys, scratching posts, lounging hammocks and more. It's an expensive, large item, but felines will think it's fabulous.
  • four hideaways on three different levels
  • plush mats on all lounging areas
  • sturdy yet lightweight and easy to move
Brand Prevue
Model 7240
Weight 18.5 pounds
The Pet Magasin Collapsible Cat Tunnel is an affordable toy promising hours of fun or just a place for your cats to curl up and sleep. Either way, collapse it flat and take it with you anywhere or store it away when not in use.
  • great value for a two-pack
  • very well reviewed by humans
  • comes with 2-year warranty
Brand Pet Magasin
Model pending
Weight 1.1 pounds
The affordably-priced Hot Pursuit SmartyKat Electronic toy taps into your cat's instinctual love for the hunt by replicating the movement of hidden prey. Great for families, it is child safety tested and has a satisfaction guarantee.
  • four speeds let you customize the action
  • includes two wand attachments
  • encourages lazy cats to get up and play
Brand SmartyKat
Model 32002
Weight 1.2 pounds
The Smartykat Remote Controlled Scamper Bug puts the fun of the chase in your hands and is sure to be as entertaining to you as it is to your kitty. The multi-directional remote-control ensures the action is easy and low-impact for you.
  • easy one-button controls
  • includes catnip in refillable pouch
  • mouse charges on the remote
Brand SmartyKat
Model 9686
Weight 5.6 ounces
The Petmate Go Fish Toy is made with materials that produce stimulating sound effects that keep cats engaged. It has a rubberized melamine base to limit excess movement even as cats lunge and pounce with vigor.
  • conveniently dishwasher-safe
  • designed by a cat behaviorist
  • built-in trough to hide treats
Brand Petmate
Model 31160
Weight 1.6 pounds

Your True Cat

Cat's don't necessarily want to play when and how you want them to. It's part of their nature to confound and defy their owners, which, frankly, is part of their charm. Their independence earns respect, and consequently makes us want to play with them even more.

The last cat I lived with belonged to a roommate, and she (the cat not the roommate) was a handful. She was simultaneously mean and needy, incredibly vocal, and rather dangerous. I secretly think she loved nothing more than the feel of torn flesh beneath her claws, but she did have a sweet side under all that.

That sweet side in any animal comes out during play. When the dominant creature in a household to initiates play, it informs the rest of the brood that they can let their guard down, so something closer to their true personality can shine. It's akin to spending one-on-one time with the person you love and trust the most; the rest of the world disappears and you can simply be yourself.

That's a valuable physical and psychological experience for any animal. For a cat, even if they initiate play on their own, it's an opportunity to burn off some energy, release some endorphins, and keep the mind agile. One of the cats I had growing up didn't do this enough. She barely played at all for the 12 years we had her, and she descended into a terrible dementia in her final year.

The cat toys on this list all engage your kitty's mental gamesmanship (gamescatship?) by getting them in touch with their spacial relations and their hunters' instincts. Some of them recreate the chase, offering your cat a chance to go after a fake mouse or some representation of an elusive and tasty creature.

Others play on a cat's exacting instinct to follow a moving object in a set space. Still others employ more maze-like constructions that your cat can run around endlessly when those sudden bursts of energy hit (as they, for some reason, always seem to do right after they use their litter box).

Put Yourself First

Nothing is more disappointing that making an impromptu stop at the pet shop, finding what you think is the absolute perfect cat toy, and bringing it home only to watch it collect dust and far outlive the feline in question. Try as you might to get your cat to engage with certain toys, they have always been and will always be fiercely aloof animals with their own unique and ever-evolving sets of standards.

In that sense, you can't treat a decision among the toys on our list they way you might if you were purchasing a gift for a child. Even for a younger child, you could identify some likes and dislikes, some tendencies toward or away from certain kinds of toys, and you could then make an informed decision that would likely thrill the young person. Even if your cat has had nothing but love and excitement for, say, catnip mouses all his or her life, you could bring one home tonight and it might go unused.

What's more important, then, and what often gets more respect for you from your cat, is that you acquire a toy from our list that's convenient for you. The primary variable to focus on in that case is size. If you've got a big house, a tiny toy is likely to get lost in the first hour, and maybe never found again. Conversely, if you've got a smaller apartment, a giant, multi-tiered cat run is going to take up more space than your bed and your couch combined. A toy like that transforms your space into theirs, and is unhealthy for the power dynamic of the relationship.

Definitely take your cat's personality and your success with prior toys into account, but add in questions of size and convenience for you into the equation, and you're more apt to come away with a toy that'll not only get a healthy amount of use, but one that'll keep you from pulling out so much of your hair that you'll begin to outshed your cat.

Taming The Natural Hunters

Cats began to domesticate themselves over 10,000 years ago. They did so in conjunction with mankind's efforts at building the first agrarian society. Up until that point, men had been hunters and gatherers, often living nomadic lifestyles. The land around the Fertile Crescent area of the Middle East proved so fecund and produced so much usable food with such ease, that humans established permanent civilizations in the region.

With farming comes the storage of grain. With the storage of grain come hoards of mice. Hot on the heels of the mice come hungry, wild cats. These cats and their efficient hunting skills proved invaluable to the first agrarian humans, and in a short while there began a symbiotic cohabitation between the species that led to the domestication of the wild cat.

At that time, there was no need for cat toys. They had their paws full catching all the mice they could find. In more recent centuries, the classic toy for a cat was a ball of yarn. The mass was soft but stable, and the cat's claws easily sank into the surface of it. A little stray string even resembled a tail.

The popularity of such a simple toy lead to the development of stuffed mice and other playthings meant to mimic the act of the hunt as closely as possible, with companies in the 20th century incorporating the science of a feline's predatory behavior.

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Last updated: 03/25/2017 | Authorship Information