I grew up in a cat household. My first pet was a black and white cat named Jakie who was purchased right around the time I was born. We had a succession of cats after that, including a couple of strays my cats would bring home occasionally as friends. More recently, I’ve spent time with my brother’s snowshoe cat, as well as my friend’s calico. While I’m a dog person now, I still enjoy spending a little time entertaining the cats I come across.
To that end, I’ve had my fair share of experience with interactive cat toys. From the classics to the latest and greatest, there’s a cat toy for every personality and energy level. Badly behaved cats often just need stimulation in the form of tiring play, so if you’ve got a cat that acts up all the time, consider one of the items from our list to help them burn off some steam. Indoor cats especially have higher requirements for exercise, since they don’t have a dynamic environment to move through. There are always the simple mice and pounds of catnip, but nothing beats a toy that can engage your pet.
If you don’t see anything on this list, try our list of the top 25 best cat toys, which has five categories of toys to peruse.
We’ve collected the best interactive cat toys to expand the play opportunities for your feline friend.
1. Bergan Star Chaser Turbo Scratcher
The classic, ubiquitous cat toy, this Star Chaser is the number one seller in the Cat Scratching Pads category on Amazon. It comes with a small toy ball on a track, which provides hours of entertainment. So simple, yet in my experience, still so effective. Also includes a large cardboard scratching area that can be replaced with this two-pack. You could also get catnip spray and apply it to either the pad or the ball.
Price: $10.09 (44 percent off MSRP)
2. HEXBUG Mouse Cat Toy
Equipped with two modes, this mouse toy propels itself around the house, simulating the movements of real prey. The first mode is “paw mode” for docile cats, while “chase mode” is for more active hunters. The rubber tail twitches as it moves to entice cats into play. Turn it on and set it loose. It can even right itself when it lands on its back.
3. Cat Charmer Wand
Continuing in the vein of classic toys, the cat charmer is one of the greats. Almost every cat owner I’ve ever known has owned this at point point or another. Sure, it’s more work than some of the others, but that’s part of the fun. Let your cat chase you around the house with this trailing behind. Get your cat to do high-flying backflips. This is also a great toy for kids to get in on the act. It’s even cheaper than the LED pointer, so it’s definitely worth trying.
4. The Ultimate Cat Toy Collection
Featuring seven unique toys made from natural wood, sisal, elastic and feathers, this collection of natural cat toys is focused on hunting and foraging. When I had my cat, I would buy a bundle of roughly mouse-shaped toys and keep them in a drawer. When my cat lost one under the couch, I’d just grab another and fling it over to her, starting the cycle again. Another good candidate for catnip spray to keep cats interested as they get scattered around the house.
5. PetFavorites Sponge Soccer Balls Cat Toy
In the same category as foraging mouse toys, these foam soccer balls have the added benefit of easily rolling across the floor or down the stairs. This is a four-pack, but you can also get a pack of eight, so feel free to deploy more than one at a time. They also bounce well, so you can entice your cat to leap into the air when going after it. Simple and to the point and you won’t be sad when they inevitably lose them.
6. Kitty City 46 Inch Mega Kit Cat Claw Perch
What cat-loving home would be complete without a cat tower? This is a slightly more modern take on the standard cat tower, using ABS plastic pipes and joints for construction. This allows you to connect multiple units and create a sprawling cat-enjoyment complex. It includes four scratching posts and several hanging toys. Don’t worry, though; if you prefer the traditional style, they’ve continued creating increasingly opulent models.
7. Catit Design Senses Play Circuit
A modern update to the Star Chaser, this play circuit foregoes the scratching pad for a more complicated play setup. Cats can hunt the ball within the track, following it the length of the tube. The pattern of the openings adds a different dimension, thereby stimulating cats more than a fully-exposed ball would. You can also get the Catit Senses 2.0 Circuit, which is compatible with this version but is 24 inches longer. These are configurable in many different layouts so your cat will never get bored.
8. Petlinks Electronic Mystery Motion Cat Toy
Moving into the realm of automated toys, this Mystery Motion playmat features a mouse that moves at four different speeds in unpredictable patterns. Having a powered toy is great for the obvious reason that you can just turn it on and let them play. The erratic movements will keep your cat engaged for hours on three AAA batteries. At this price, it’s cheaper on Amazon than both Petco and PetSmart.
9. 5SPET 3-piece Wireless Remote Control Rat Toy
Similar to the LED pointer, these radio-controlled mice will let you sit in your more comfortable chair and entertain your cat in an interactive way. They’re pretty simple with just forward and back motion, but the cat batting it around will provide all the steering you need. The mice themselves require three AAA batteries while the controller needs two. They’re adorable and semi-realistic, and the three-pack means your cat can destroy a couple before the fun stops.
10. Petsafe Pounce Toy
The Petsafe Pounce is another powered play platform. It features a small plastic mouse that moves around the circular path in unpredictable ways at four speeds, much like the Mystery Motion above. This item is a little more rugged, and will shut off after ten minutes of play to conserve the three AA batteries. A very modern-looking interactive cat toy.
11. FroliCat BOLT Interactive Laser Pet Toy
Lasers are synonymous with cat toys. At some point, every cat owner has had one. This design considerably ups the ante for cat laser toys. You an either use it as a normal laser, holding it your hand and directing the motion, or place it on the ground in automatic mode and let the small motor inside randomize the patterns for your cat. After 15 minutes, it automatically shuts off. Simply supply four AA batteries and you’re ready to go. PetSafe also offers the FroliCat Dart, which rotates 360 degrees, offers an adjustable timer, and 16 different modes.
12. SmartCat Peek and Play Toy Box
Designed to work with any number of standard cat toys, this little wooden toy box encourages your cat to forage. By causing your cat to work to free their favorite toy, you can extend playtime and help keep their mind occupied. Keep a wide variety of different toys on hand and rotate them regularly to make sure your cat stays engaged. A liberal dose of catnip couldn’t hurt, either.
13. Petstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy
For a little more than the Star Chaser above, you can give your cat three times the ball-spinning excitement. This would also be a good choice for multiple cats, as they can interact with different levels at different times and increase the action. Should provide plenty of entertainment in a relatively simple device.
14. Tailmate Three Way Cat Tunnel
The cat tunnel is another excellent interactive cat toy. Cats love to rocket through them, making them crinkle and chasing other cats. This one comes in four color ways and for a little bit more, you can also opt for the four-way version. It’s designed to be sturdy and is covered in material that cat hair won’t stick to, so you won’t have to clean it. There’s a center hole and ball toys at each opening. You can collapse it for travel or storage.
Price: $26.99 to $39.99
15. PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser
Part of the point of interactive toys is to keep your cat in shape. To that end, you can combine play time and meal time by feeding your cat with this treat dispenser that requires them to manipulate the ball in order to free the food within. The openings are adjustable so you can increase or decrease the challenge, and it’s available in four colors: green, blue, orange, and pink. It will hold 2/3 of a cup of try food or treats at a time and is dishwasher safe.
Price: $6.79 (15 percent off MSRP)
16. Catit Senses 2.0 Fireball
Equally at home with the Catit Senses circuit above and just freely rolling around your house, this simple ball adds two batteries and a couple of lights to create a compelling toy. We know cats love lasers, so why not put laser-esque lights inside a ball? The lights come on when the ball moves, which will in turn keep your cat moving it around. Straightforward, but interesting and effective.
Price: $3.99 (56 percent off MSRP)
17. Cat Amazing Treat Maze and Puzzle Feeder
We covered puzzle feeders for dogs, but if your cat also struggles with scarfing their food, there are a couple more toys you could consider to slow them down at meal time or pique their interest during the rest of the day. The first of them is this puzzle box, which offers three foraging difficulty levels in zones from front to back. Use these for food, treats, catnip, or just putting other toys inside it to extend playtime.
18. Doc & Phoebe’s Interactive Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder
The second option for slowing down meal time is to go completely bowl-free. This system of five feeder mice is designed to completely replace dry food feeding from a bowl. Each mouse holds 1.6 tablespoons, and you’re meant to fill them all and hide them around the house for your cat to find. The plastic frames of the mice are dishwasher safe, while the mouse fabric can be machine washed. It’s a little fussier for you when it comes to feeding, but it should prevent boredom and food scarfing. A good way to combine feeding and play.
19. Moody Pet Fling Ama String Cat Toy
Every cat owner at one point or another has played with their cat using just a piece of string. This ingenious toy hangs on the back of a door and does the string-flinging for you. A tough nylon string attached to a white elastic conveyor belt that rotates the length of the toy, whipping the rope around and generating interest for the enterprising cat. With enough muscle, your cat can halt the progress of the conveyor belt, but as soon as they let go, it begins moving again. If your cat should ever succeed in totally destroying it, the company will send you replacement parts for the life of the toy.
Price: $24.95 (17 percent off MSRP)
20. Our Pets Play-N-Squeak Batting Practice Cat Toy
Speaking of things that can be hung on the door, we can’t end this list without the evergreen mouse on a string toy. Like the wand toys above, this is a simple, but effective toy that has taken several permutations over the years. The mouse at the end of the rope has the RealMouse sound squeaker, which will entice your cat to continue playing as it bounces. At this price, you can afford to buy a few of them and put them on multiple doors in your home.
Price: $4.59 (54 percent off MSRP)