How To Choose The Right Toys For Your Cat?

For some cat owners, it is really hard to choose toys that the pet will actually use. Seven times out of ten, the cat will outright ignore the chest full of toys and choose to spend the whole day in the first empty box that it sees. This is a feeling of frustration that all cat lovers can relate to – shelling out hard-earned money on dozens of intricate toys, only to let them gather dust in the attic.

But finding toys that your cat will love is not as complicated as it seems. Buying toy after toy hoping that this one will finally be used is not the solution, so you will have to rethink your strategy. Before buying one, you have to think from the cat’s perspective and take the animal’s predatory nature into consideration. Here is how to choose the right toys for your cat.

Choose Safe and Durable Toys

Because cats have predatory instincts, they like to jump, pounce and scratch at everything they see. Cats like to be challenged and stimulated, so the toys that they will love the most are those that allows them to simulate their behavior in the wild. But, because cats tend to play in an aggressive manner, it is a good idea to choose toys that are both safe, and capable of withstanding repeated abuses.

Your safest bet is to check out reviews of chewing toys for cats and only buy attested products from reputable brands. Similar to guinea pigs, cats need to constantly nibble on objects in order to keep their teeth healthy and functional. For example, Petstages, a reputable producer of toys specifically designed to ensure the cat’s dental health, is a great choice in this respect.

One of the items that has the highest rate of success for cats is the wand toy. The name is quite suggestive – the simplest of them consist of a wand and a piece of ribbon at the end of it, while the more elaborate ones have bells, feathers, and strings.

But in some cases, as much as cats love the wand toy, it can also pose the greatest danger to the animal.  Next time you are out shopping at the pet store, inspect the items and make sure that the toys have heavy strings, and that the toys at the end of them are securely attached, with no sharp pieces that could hurt the cat once it bites it. Another good rule of thumb is to hide it in a safe spot in between play sessions to prevent the cat from chewing on the string or getting tangled in it.

Types of Cat Toys

Generally speaking, there are two broad categories of cat toys – the ones made for solo time, when the cat decides to dutifully ignore its owners, and toys designed for interactive play. The list of solo playthings includes any items that can be batted around, pounced on, nibbled on, chase or stalked. Apart from the previously mentioned wands, other interactive toys consist of lasers – cats will go crazy chasing the small shiny spot on the walls-, stuffed objects – preferably mice, for obvious reasons, balls with bells inside, and catnip toys.

If your cat is lazier than usual, one good way of encouraging it to be more active is by getting food-dispensing toys. Designed specifically for adult cats, they are made in such a way to incentivize your pet to use its physical and mental capacities to retrieve the treats. Moreover, food dispensing toys are also a smart way to help the cat make an association between good behavior and reward. 

Toys That Encourage Sensory Enrichment

Cats, like other animals, need to constantly stimulate their senses in order to function properly. One way of encouraging the cat to seek sensory enrichment is by decorating its living environment with ‘’feeding puzzles’’. These food puzzles can be as simple as a plastic ball with a hole in it that releases food at random intervals as the cat plays with it, or intricate systems with tubes that the cat has to traverse to reach the food.

While this might seem as unnecessary busy work when you can just dump food in a bowl, designing these little systems is actually very important for the cat’s mental health. Since felines are, at their core, hunters, the concept of working for food comes very natural to them. Cats are hard-wired to combine play with hunting and feeding – that is why you will see cats engaging in elaborate play rituals with their prey before consuming it. Besides, puzzle feeders will teach your cat healthy eating habits, a behavior which is hard to instill when they are hunkering down on food bowls.

Bottom Line

Since cats are, by nature, extremely fickle creatures, chances are your pet will ignore most of the toys that you have enthusiastically bought for them. Going to the pet shop and grabbing the first toys that you see is not a solution – you have to put yourself in the animal’s shoes and think from the cat’s perspective. Therefore, it is a good idea to choose the toys that encourage interactivity and play on the animal’s predatory nature, such as wands, lasers and basically anything that the cat can stalk, scratch, bite and pounce on.  

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