Like their larger, wild brethren, house cats are hunters. Cats are built for stalking prey and pouncing on it, and years of domestication hasn’t much diminished their need to engage in these activities. They’re extremely agile creatures, and those genetics contribute to able predators. Even if your cat is just a fluffy goofball that appears to share nothing with, say, a cheetah, they still possess the instincts for play like the big cats.
Indoor cats are especially in need of exercise. They don’t get to roam the outdoors, chasing squirrels and birds, and maneuvering around obstacles like outdoor or barn cats do. Additionally, because cats are relatively smart creatures, they require a lot of mental stimulus to keep from becoming destructive or otherwise misbehaved. Virtually every episode of My Cat from Hell features Jackson Galaxy recommending strategies to keep a cat occupied and engaged. The number one suggestion? Buy a few toys.
Cat toys come in a wide variety of styles, but there are a few categories that continually emerge as favorites. Here we’ve collected five example of five different categories of toys: balls, catnip toys, toys with feathers, mice and other prey animals, and scratching posts and playgrounds. These are all tried-and-true toy types which can add a new dimension to your cat’s environment and pique their interest. The Human Society of the United States recommends that you make a rotation of your cat’s toys to keep them interesting. Only keep a few out at a time, then switch them the next week. When you do, make sure they have one of each type of toy, including at least a couple that you use with them, since domestic cats enjoy bonding activities with their humans.
If you happen to be shopping for gifts for the cat lover in your life, check out our list of the best gifts for cat lovers here.
To give you a place to start shopping, we’ve compiled 25 of the best cat toys in different styles that are sure to entertain your cat for hours.
Ball Cat Toys
Just like dogs, cats love to chase balls. Sure, they’re pretty simple and you could certainly use any kind at all. They have the added advantage of being highly animated without much input from you or your cat. Especially on non-carpeted floors, you can get a lot of mileage (pun intended) out of a cheap ball. Consider these five options for toy balls for your cat.
1. Ethical Products Spot Slotted Balls
The old classic: a slotted plastic ball with a bell. The bell will help entertain any cat, but is especially useful if your cat happens to be blind like the one in the video above. Every cat I’ve ever known has loved these simple toys. Even though the manufacturer claims they’re virtually indestructible, I think that’s pretty dubious, so be sure to throw them out when they break. Still, they’re cheap enough to replace and should provide plenty of entertainment. You can also get the Hartz version for a little less, if you prefer.
Need more options? Browse more Ethical products here.
Price: $4.12 for a four pack, $8.99 for eight
2. Petmate Jackson Galaxy Cat Dice, 3-Pack
Sure, they’re not exactly balls per se, but they’ll roll around just the same. The odd shapes produce unexpected bounces that will keep the cat guessing. As an added bonus, you can put a treat inside that they need to figure out how to access after they’re done chasing the die across the room. If Jackson Galaxy was really involved in making this, it’s almost certainly worth trying. He makes his money sorting out difficult cats, how far off could he be?
Need more options? Browse more Petmate products here.
3. JW Pet Company Cataction Rattle Ball
What I like about this one is that it looks crazy. It’s just a zany toy to give your cat. As I covered in my durable dog toys post, JW makes some tough toys, so this should stand up to a lot of abuse from your feline pal. The rubber gives your cat something to bite and claw, and these balls are known for their excellent rolling power. There’s also a little rattle in there to provide auditory stimulus.
Need more options? Browse more JW Pet products here.
Price: $2.49 (87 percent off MSRP)
4. Think!Cat Chase’ M Catnip Puff Balls
While this won’t provide quite the same speed as other balls, the fur-like texture will entice your cat to chase these puffs. If that doesn’t do it, the catnip they’re made with certainly will. With a pack size this large, you can afford to give your cat a whole handful of them at once and not worry too much if they roll under the appliances. Good for a game of fetch with your cat in the living room.
Need more options? Browse more Think!Cat products here.
Price: $9.99 for a 30 count
5. Mylar Balls Cat Toys
The last of the ball toys is another unconventional choice. Made of mylar, these crinkly toys will still roll like a ball to a certain degree, while adding increased visual stimulus with the various colors. As the ball moves, the mylar makes noise, which will also keep your cat interested. These are just little ones at 1.5 inches, and you can get them in a 24 pack. The pack of 12 comes with four purple and green, four red and gold, and four green and gold.
Need more options? Browse more PetFavorites products here.
Price: $6.16 for a 12 pack (75 percent off MSRP)
Catnip is actually a member of the mint family. It’s an herb that contains a specific essential oil to which some cats are extremely sensitive. All they need to do is breathe it in to trigger a reaction that generally lasts about ten minutes. During that time, cats can get really wild and energetic, attacking the object that has catnip on it and rubbing it on their faces. Toys that come with catnip, preferably in a refillable vessel, are excellent for inciting very active play periods that will stimulate your cat and give them excellent exercise.
6. Yeowww! 100% Organic Catnip Cigar Toys
Much like the real-world versions they humorously parody, these kitty cigars are filled with catnip leaves, which should produce a strong effect in cats sensitive to it. These are roughly seven inches long, and come in a three pack. I used to buy a product like this for my cats when I was a kid and they loved them. They’re easy to carry and bat around. These aren’t refillable, but you could always grab some catnip spray to keep the toys fresh.
Need more options? Browse more Yeowww! products here.
7. Bergan Catnip Hurricane Cat Toy
A spin-off version of the Star Chaser Turbo we included in our interactive cat toy post, this toy features two rails of captive balls that cats can bat and chase around the ring. The advantage of this version is that the center can be filled with catnip for an intense play session. The circulation of the ball will create wafts of the catnip to keep your cat interested. It makes a very good, already-popular toy even better. For a little less, you can get the simpler Cyclone version.
Need more options? Browse more Bergan products here.
Price: $14.99 (40 percent off MSRP)
8. Ethical 100-Percent Catnip Candy Mice Cat Toy
For a pure, unadulterated catnip blast, consider these all-catnip mice. Not need to invite any layers to get between your cat and the catnip. This realistic-shaped mouse is made almost entirely of compressed catnip, with the exception of the tail and ears. The long tail makes it easy to dangle in front of your cat for interactive play time. For less than five dollars, you get two of them, which should keep your cat occupied for awhile.
Need more options? Need more options? Browse more Ethical products here.
Price: $4.59 (75 percent off MSRP)
9. OurPets 100-Percent Catnip Filled Sack Bulk Bin
If you have a lot of cats or at least a couple of very active ones, you might consider buying your catnip toys in bulk to be sure you always have something on hand for your weekly toy rotations. This bin of 24 catnip sacks should get the job done. They’re pretty basic as far as toys go, but if you need something your cat can abuse and have fun with, in addition to getting its catnip fix, this fits the bill. They’re pretty good for tossing in your cat’s direction and watching the chaos ensue.
Need more options? Browse more OurPets products here.
Price: $70.18 (27 percent off MSRP)
10. SmartyKat Compressed Catnip Cat Toy
This catnip toy also fits into the ball category. Much like the mouse above, this is simply a ball of compressed catnip. Why not go right to the source? It’s much less messy than loose catnip, and it’s more interesting, too. Roll this thing across the floor to your cat and watch them turn loose.
Need more options? Browse more SmartyKat products here.
Price: $3.12 (22 percent off MSRP)
Between the noises they make, their particular shape and texture, and the color, feathers are a favorite cat toy. They tend to float and behave differently than other toys, so having a feather-based toy around can help to vary a cat’s playtime. The Humane Society actually suggests removing feathers from any toy you give a cat, but given their popularity, we think there can be a compromise. Feather toys are better for supervised play, so you can make sure your cat doesn’t swallow any of them. You should promptly throw away any loose or broken feathers, but until that point, they’re still good toys for exercising your cat.
11. KONG Naturals Crinkle Ball with Feathers
Spanning several of our categories, this Kong toy has it all. It’s a ball attached to feathers, filled with catnip and a material that crinkles. Even the most discerning cat won’t be able to resist all of those features. The price is right, too. The feathers should provide an interesting flight pattern as you throw the ball to your cat. You can also use the feathers to drag the ball away from them while you play. It has a little bit of everything.
Need more options? Browse more Kong products here.
Price: $2.49 (67 percent off MSRP)
12. The Giddy Kitty 5 Pack Cat Feather Toy
No list of cat toys would be complete without a wand-style toy on it. This particular model comes with options, with five different feathered attachments in five bright colors — red, purple, green, yellow, and teal. It’s almost like getting five toys in one. Even better, each of the feather attachments comes with a small bell that will grab your cat’s attention. Once assembled, the wand reaches about three feet, which makes it easy to use while standing or sitting. It’s a classic cat toy.
Need more options? Browse more The Giddy Kitty products here.
Price: $12.95 (44 percent off MSRP)
13. SmartyKat Purrfect Play Cat Toy Activity Mat
Another toy that has it all, this play mat features toys attached to the corners to create a multi-functional play space for your cat. In addition to the feathers that put it in this category, you also get crinkling material, catnip, and a bird toy. The playmat itself is soft and inviting, and will give your cat something to claw and lay on.
Need more options? Browse SmartyKat products here.
Price: $9.99 (33 percent off MSRP)
14. OurPets Catty Whack Electronic Motion Cat Toy
This feathered toy is a bit more deluxe than some of the others. This electronic hide-and-seek game uses a feather that darts back and forth between holes and disappears. The erratic nature of the game will keep your cat guessing and pouncing for extended play sessions. It even makes a mouse-like sound that will draw the other cats of the house to it once it’s turned on. By its nature, it’s fixed in place, so this would also be a good choice for spaces where free-play toys might risk breaking something in your home. If your cat gets bored easily, try stepping up to something a bit more dynamic like this.
Need more options? Browse more OurPets products here.
Price: $24.49 (39 percent off MSRP)
15. SmartyKat Feather Whirl Cat Toy Electronic Motion Ball
Another electronic option, this well-known toy relies on erratic motion, as well. Unlike the one above, though, this one is free to roam the house, which will inspire your cat to give chase. The construction of this toy lends itself to wacky behavior, and the addition of the feather gives cats something soft to bite once they finally corner it. The feather attachment is screwed in, so it won’t come loose while your cat plays with it. The motor for it is quiet, so especially on carpeted surfaces, this out of control toy won’t make much noise at all.
Need more options? Browse SmartyKat products here.
Price: $12.33 (38 percent off MSRP)
Mice and Prey Animal Toys
Naturally, small rodents are the prey of choice for most cats. That gave rise to the most iconic of cat toys: the simple fake mouse. They’re ubiquitous, and for good reason. They’re inexpensive and simple, and cats love them. We always had at least a dozen of these laying around the house when I was a kid, and it was the toy the cats would consistently rediscover and spontaneously start playing with most often. If the basic mouse won’t cut it for your cat, toy makers have obliged by making any number of other adorable woodland critters available in various configurations. Here are five of the best examples.
16. 30 Zanies Rainbow Cat Toy Furry Mice
These are a little bit of a variation on the standard white, grey, and black toy mice, in that crazy neon colors are always fun. Occasionally, you’ll see claims that these colors make it easier for your cat to see while they’re playing. We’re not totally sure about that part, but if you can get something in a fun color, you might as well. At a little more than 50 cents each, it’s hard to go wrong. You can get the price down to less than 40 cents each if you buy this cheese wedge of 60 mice. They also come in hypno variety.
Need more options? Browse more Zanies products.
17. OurPets Play-N-Squeak Twice the Mice Cat Toy
For a slightly more deluxe option, these adorable mice are made of nicer material and include catnip. Better yet, they include an electronic module that makes a sound just like a real mouse to really kick in the predatory instinct. For this price, you get two mice. The Play-N-Squeak line offers a wide variety of critters, including a cardinal, a bluejay, a squirrel, and others. You can even get a three pack of birds for $12.49.
Need more options? Browse more OurPets products here.
Price: $6.29 (37 percent off MSRP)
18. Petmate Jackson Galaxy Ground Iguana Toy
This is a very different sort of animal-based toy. It’s made of plastic, but it makes up for that non-natural surface with an abundance of natural motion. The joints on this iguana allow it to move like many prey animals, calling on your cat’s instinct to follow those kinds of movements. It has a little loop on the head that you could use to attach to a wand-style toy. The links can be removed or added to vary the toy. It’s also available in snake, squirrel, and mouse variants.
Need more options? Browse more Jackson Galaxy products here.
19. Petco Star Wars Mice
Did you love The Force Awakens? Or are you more of an original trilogy fan? Either way, some enterprising mind has made it possible to get your cat in on your Star Wars fandom. In this set, you get a Stormtrooper mouse, a Darth Vader mouse, a Yoda mouse, and a Chewy mouse. They have all the same benefits of the standard mice, but benefit from a little more fun for you. The cat probably won’t notice, if I’m being honest.
Need more options? Browse more Petco products here.
20. Hartz Chirp n Chase Cat Toy
The final toy of our animal category features one nifty variation the others lacked: a built-in slingshot. It’s basically just a loop of stretchy fabric, but being able to fling a toy across a room has a certain appeal that makes playing with your cat a little more fun. The sound function is motion-activated, so whenever you send it flying, it’ll make a noise to alert your cat that it’s time to play.
Need more options? Browse more Hartz products here.
Scratching Posts and Cat Playgrounds
Scratching posts are a necessity for any cat lover’s home. Cats need a place to scratch, dig their claws in, and stretch. Just as important, a cat needs areas that it knows are its own, so it can do what it likes with that space. This helps cats behave better by giving them their own sanctuary, making them less territorial over human spaces. Both of these types of cat furniture can also be equipped as toys in order to multi-task. Having both small toys and larger pieces can add excellent variety to your cat’s play habits.
21. The Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat
This inventive, multifunctional mat provides virtually everything your cat needs in a space. There are places to hide, claw, sleep, dig, and hunt. It’s easily reconfigurable simply by reshaping the surface, which will keep the mat interesting over the long haul. Use the layers and holes to hide toys and treats so your cat can forage among the folds. The non-skid rubber bottom will make sure it stays in place, no matter how outrageous your cat’s play sessions get. These are made in the U.S.A. from recycled bottles are completely non-toxic. This is a toy in itself, but can be combined with anything else on this list to make a real playground for your cat.
Need more options? Browse more cat mats here.
22. Penn-Plax Cat Life Hide and Seek Kitty Playground Cat Toy
Part scratching post, part perch, and part toy, this cat playground offers several features to keep cats entertained. There’s a ball in the base which will give your cat something to try to figure out. You could also put treats or other toys in there to add to the fun. The two hanging toys offer a little variety, while the whole unit acts as a very good scratching post.
Need more options? Browse more Penn-Plax products here.
Price: $21.99 (27 percent off MSRP)
23. Trixie 5-in-1 Activity Center
If you want to increase the challenge for your cat, try this activity center that features five different brain-teasing games. The first game is a simple fishbowl that your cat must dig a treat or toy out of. The second is a peg game that lets cats figure out how to maneuver the treat out of the maze. The third are small squares meant for liquid treats. The fourth game is a series of waves cats must fish treats from. The fifth game is a long tube which would be good for toys and treats alike. The bowls twist off for easy cleaning, and the entire unit is dishwasher safe. The rubber feet keep it from moving around, even on non-carpeted floors.
Need more options? Browse more Trixie Pet Products here.
Price: $21.50 (64 percent off MSRP)
24. Dear Gizmo Cat Play Toy Scratching Post
Like the PetFusion lounge we put in our best cat beds post, this scratching post activity center is made almost entirely of recyclable cardboard. Every surface of this is meant for cat claws, with the two sloped surfaces providing places for multiple cats to scratch at once. The added bouncy toy helps make this fun, as does the included catnip. For the functionality, it takes up relatively little floorspace.
Need more options? Browse more cat scratching posts here.
25. Milliard Kitten Catter-Totter
Sure, you can attach toys to a scratching post, but what if the entire thing was a toy itself? This is a cat teeter totter. This will encourage play among multiple cats, but the movement will also entertain a single cat, particularly if you place treats or a toy in it somewhere. While it’s billed for being best for kittens, adult cats can still get a lot of mileage out of this. It’s a novel idea and something worth a try.
Need more options? Browse more Milliard products here.
Price: $21.99 (31 percent off MSRP)
If you didn’t find anything on this list that helped you choose the next great toy for your cat, you can browse all cat toys here using the category overview information from this post to help guide you.
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