The 10 Best Cat Toys

Updated June 10, 2018 by Gabrielle Taylor

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We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. You know what they say: "The devil makes work for idle hands." And it's also true for idle paws! Give your furball something safer and more fun to do than scratching up your furniture with one of these inventive and safe cat toys. This selection includes plenty of high- and low-tech options to keep your furry friends entertained when you can't be home with them. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best cat toy on Amazon.

10. PetSafe Pounce

The PetSafe Pounce is an electronic, interactive model that features four speed options. On variable mode, the mouse will change direction, hide under obstacles, and twitch. Some cats will not find the plain plastic mouse very engaging, though.
  • pets can turn it on by themselves
  • auto-shutoff after 10 minutes
  • difficult to clean
Brand PetSafe
Model PTY00-14236
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Petmate Go Fish

The Petmate Go Fish can provide your kitty with some entertainment during treat times, but is also designed to encourage fast feeders to slow down when eating. It has a rubberized melamine base to limit excess movement, even as pets lunge and pounce with vigor.
  • conveniently dishwasher-safe
  • designed by a cat behaviorist
  • tails can be chewed off
Brand Petmate
Model 31160
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Petty Love Activity Center

The Petty Love Activity Center will engage even the laziest pets, as they can play with this model while lying flat on their backs. It comes with four hanging toys that are easy to remove and replace with your kitty's personal favorites for variety.
  • cozy padded mat
  • zippered storage bag included
  • a bit small for hefty cats
Brand Petty Love House
Model PT06234
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

7. Bergan Turbo Scratcher

The track and ball design of the Bergan Turbo Scratcher 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.
  • 1 scratch pad and 1 ball included
  • can minimize unwanted scratching
  • the color you receive may vary
Brand Bergan
Model 70128
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Pet Magasin Collapsible

The Pet Magasin Collapsible is an affordable option that promises hours of fun, or just a nice, secluded place to curl up and sleep. The tunnels fold down flat, so you can take them with you anywhere or store them away when not in use.
  • great value as it comes as a 2-pack
  • peephole in the larger tube
  • backed by a two-year warranty
Brand Pet Magasin
Model PM-PET0001600
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Hot Pursuit SmartyKat Electronic

The Hot Pursuit SmartyKat Electronic taps into your furry friend's instinctual love for the hunt by replicating the movement of hidden prey in a way they won't be able to resist. Great for families, it is child safety tested and comes with a satisfaction guarantee.
  • four speeds to customize the action
  • includes two wand attachments
  • encourages lazy cats to play
Brand SmartyKat
Model 32002
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Cat Amazing Puzzle Feeder

If your furball needs to lose a few pounds, the Cat Amazing Puzzle Feeder requires them to push the food, treat, or toy through a maze before they get to enjoy it. It's a fun way to get them to eat more slowly and get some exercise at the same time.
  • three difficulty levels
  • encourages natural instincts
  • made from recyclable cardboard
Brand Cat Amazing
Model pending
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

3. Catit Play Circuit

The Catit Play Circuit is a bundle of toys designed to incorporate all of your pet’s senses while she plays and eats. It includes a scratch pad, a play area, and a massage center, so this option will entertain and then relax your furry friend.
  • food maze challenges kitties
  • easy to assemble and disassemble
  • grass planter offers a healthy snack
Brand Catit
Model 50720P
Weight 7.5 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Petstages Tower

Providing three levels of fun, the Petstages Tower features a stack of tracks with a brightly colored ball on each one for your kitty to swat around. The circular design lets them play from any angle, and makes it easy for you to get in on the action, too.
  • provides mental stimulation
  • nonslip rubber feet hold it in place
  • can be shared by multiple pets
Brand Petstages
Model 317
Weight 11.2 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Prosper Pet Tunnel

With a sturdy steel frame and a tear-resistant exterior, the Prosper Pet Tunnel can stand up to vigorous play. The polyester fabric doesn't collect hair, making it easy to clean, and it has a peephole in the center, so your kitty can pop up to see what's going on outside.
  • collapses flat for compact storage
  • built-in dangling bell toy
  • choose from a variety of colors
Brand Prosper Pet
Model Cat Tunnel Black Pink
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

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 on June 10, 2018 by Gabrielle Taylor

Gabrielle is a writer and hopeful entrepreneur who hails from a tiny town in Virginia. Earlier in her career, she spent a few years in Southern California before moving back to the east coast (but she misses LA every day). An avid and enthusiastic home cook, she is somewhat of an expert at fending off attempted food thievery by her lazy boxer.

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