From wide-eyed kitten to wise elder cat, playtime with your feline friend is enjoyable for you both, but it’s also a strong contributor to their overall health and well-being. It’s important for a cat to stay physically and mentally active and entertained throughout their lifetime. This is especially important if you have an indoor-only or solo cat who doesn’t get as much organic stimulation.
Cat toys are designed with a cat’s primal instincts in mind to keep their senses sharp. Depending on the age of your cat along with what they find interesting, a cat toy can provide hours of enjoyment. It can even help your kitty maintain a healthy weight by motivating them to pounce, jump, kick, and claw at something they perceive as prey.
As any human companion to a cat knows, cats can be beyond picky when it comes to what excites them and what bores them. Finding the right toy or toys can also help you to bond with your cat which ideally leads to lots of purrs and snuggles post-playtime.
To help you with your search, we rounded up the best cat toys for keeping your kitty pawfully amused.
Best OverallBENTOPAL Automatic Cat Toy
The BENTOPAL Automatic cat toy is a motorized, robotic toy with various ways to charm your cat. It has a hanging feather toy attached to two large wheels that swivel, turn, and rotate, moving the toy around the room in an erratic pattern. This toy entices your cat to stalk, chase, and pounce. There are two modes (fast and slow), so you can adjust it according to your cat’s mood and activity level. It has large wheels which can run on most types of flooring, including carpet.
Plus, it has an automatic mode—it will run for 10 straight minutes, turn off for 90 minutes, and then turn back on for another 10 minutes for eight total hours—so if you have to leave the house all day, you can feel better knowing your cat will be entertained.
Price at time of publish: $30
Best LaserFurryFido Laser Cat Toy
Laser toys are famously a cat favorite, but many are flimsy or require small watch batteries—which isn’t convenient for most to replace. Our top pick for the best laser, the FurryFido Laser Cat Toy, enhances the laser experience for both cats and humans with its ability to recharge the internal battery via USB, and its four modes—off, on, white light, and UV light. You can use the UV light to check for hidden pet stains on carpet, upholstery, bedding, and clothes, and the flashlight setting can illuminate your search for lost toys underneath the couch. This little laser has an on/off setting—you don’t have to hold down a button to play—and a stainless steel finish. Customers report that it can withstand a few drops, but the internal components might start to obstruct the bulb causing the light to diffuse.
As with all laser pointers, you should keep in mind that some cats get frustrated by an object they can never catch. We recommend combining this activity with treats or other toys that your cat can actually get their claws into.
Price at time of publish: $14
Best WandSmartyKat Silly Swinger 2-in-1 Wand Cat Toy
Keep your kitty entertained while you are at home and when you are away with the SmartyKat Silly Swinger 2-in-1 Wand Cat Toy. On top of its alluring design made to sway in front of your cat, it also features catnip, crinkles, and a detachable plush toy, making it our top pick for the best wand. Your cat will feel compelled to claw at the ribbons, rope, and fuzzy ends. It easily detaches with a hook and loop closure so your cat can fully attack their prey, and you can re-attach it to the wand when you are in the mood to play. For additional peace of mind, this toy was designed to meet safety standards for pets as well as kids, so it doesn’t contain any sharp objects, long cords, or hazards.
Price at time of publish: $6
Best MotorizedHEXBUG nano Robotic Cat Toy
If you’ve ever witnessed your cat’s hunting instincts activate at the sight of a moth or beetle then you will definitely see the appeal of the HEXBUG nano Robotic Cat Toy.
Designed to look like an insect and made in an array of colorful options, this robotic cat toy uses vibration technology to move around your home, enticing your cat to chase, pounce, and swat. It changes direction when it meets obstacles and can flip back onto its feet when your cat inevitably knocks it over on its back. It also has a brightly-colored feather tail that it coyly dangles from its rear to continuously entice your cat into playtime.
Price at time of publish: $10
Best InteractivePetSafe Bolt Interactive Laser Cat Toy Bolt Interactive Laser Cat Toy
If you have a cat with a lot of energy, or simply want to spark your cat’s curiosity, we recommend the PetSafe Bolt Interactive Laser toy. This small device ( 3 x 3 x 9 inches) is battery-powered and offers hours of entertainment with a laser and a rotating mirror that bounces around the light. It’s great for playtime with you as well as solo play when you are busy or away from home. Set it to manual mode and hold it in your hand to move around the light, or set it on a surface and turn on the automation feature to send the laser light in a variety of directions.
Price at time of publish: $27
Best for Indoor CatsSmartyKat Skitter Critters Catnip Cat Toys
Keeping your kitty indoors is the safest route, but cats are natural hunters and can quickly get bored if they don’t have enough stimulation. But the SmartyKat Skitter Critters can help. These inexpensive ($6 for a pack of 10) mouse-shaped toys satisfy your cat’s prey instinct, while the catnip inside stimulates your kitty, encourages play, and, eventually, reduces stress and promotes relaxation. You can throw the toys and watch your cat chase them around, or your kitty can play with them on his own, thanks to the plush body and easy-to-carry design.
These toys come in a pack of 10, so if your cat accidentally swats one under the couch or chews out the stuffing, you’ll have more quickly on hand.
Price at time of publish: $6
Best for Older CatsPetstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy
If your senior feline friend seems a little less active these days, the Petstages Tower of Tracks is the ideal solution. This three-tiered toy features colorful spinning balls contained on each level. When your cat bats at the balls, they spin and roll, but don’t leave the designated track. This satisfies your cat’s hunting instinct but since the balls don’t leave the tower, your elder cat won’t have to chase them around the room or go looking for them under the couch (and neither will you!)
This toy is a great solution for the working cat parent, too. Your kitty can entertain themself even when you’re not at home.
Price at time of publish: $28
Best for Food-Motivated CatsTrixie 5-in-1 Cat Activity Center
Pique your cat’s curiosity and stimulate their senses by using the scent of snacks to lure them into a delightful game. Which is more rewarding, the hunt or the reward? Let your cat find out!
“The bottom has rubber, non-slip feet to keep it in place, so it won’t budge even if our cat starts playing too rough,” one tester said about the Trixie 5-in-1. “We found that the board held its place on hard floors, but not as much on carpet.”
The Trixie 5-in-1 Activity Center is designed to intrigue a food-motivated cat. It features various nooks. crevasses, pegs, alleys, tunnels, and bowls in which you can hide your cat’s favorite treats and foods. Don’t worry about crumbs or leftover food residue, this toy is made of dishwasher-safe plastic so it’s easy to clean. It encourages kitties to use their intellect and hunting skills, and when they succeed, they are graciously rewarded with a delectable prize.
Price at time of publish: $34
Best for Lazy CatsOurPets Catnip 24 Karat Cat Toy
If your cat doesn’t light up at the opportunity to run about or chase after another creature, then the OurPets Catnip 24 Karat Cat Toy is our top pick to captivate your chill-energy cat’s attention. The claw-able canvas carrot is filled with 100% catnip, which is both invigorating and soothing to those who prefer to communicate with meows and purrs.
We encourage you to picture your cat gleefully chewing on the ginger-colored canvas, merrily swatting at its feathers, and cheerfully laying on its back—with their paws wrapped around the faux root vegetable—to get their hind legs in on the pawing action. You can also get in on the fun by dangling the carrot in front of your cat, satisfying their natural desire to hunt. And while the feathers may fall off pretty quickly, depending on how much your cat likes to chew things, the canvas is made to last through hours and hours of playtime.
Price at time of publish: $6
Best Ribbon ToyCat Dancer Rainbow Cat Charmer
The ribbon toy is an enduring feline favorite that has been dazzling cats for generations. The Cat Dancer Charmer is our favorite take on the classic because its handle is nearly unbreakable and the colorful strands are bright and cheerful. It will have your cat jumping and pouncing around the room, and with ribbons the length of four feet, this interactive toy is a great way to keep your pet active and stimulated. It’s safe to use with both cats and kittens during playtime, and some satisfied customers have found its classic design appeals to their kids as well!
Price at time of publish: $7
Best KickerWest Coast Pet Products 15 Inch Denim Refillable Catnip Kicker
When the mood strikes, some cats love nothing more than to roll around on their backs and bunny-kick. A long and skinny kicker toy is the perfect piece to assuage this primal instinct. Our top pick is a handmade kicker from the Etsy shop, West Coast Pet Products. It’s 15 inches long, has a refillable pocket to hold catnip, and it is covered in denim to withstand repeated clawing and chewing. You get to pick between a solid fabric or a subtle print, and the center is filled with soft polyester, so the toy is flexible and plush. There are many toys marketed as “kickers,” but if you have an adult cat, you should look for one that’s at least 12 inches long.
Price at time of publish: $17
What to Look for in a Cat Toy
Most toys are designed primarily for entertainment, but many that have additional benefits for your kitty. For instance, some toys have built-in scratchers to help cats maintain their claws; others have chewing components to encourage oral health. Many toys will get your cat moving and using their muscles. Consider these types of wellness benefits as you shop.
Are you looking for a toy that will keep your cats entertained when they’re home alone or something that you have to facilitate? Consider whether solo play is a priority, as this will dictate what type of toy you should buy.
You know your cat better than anyone, so be sure to think about whether a particular toy is something they’ll use repeatedly. Cats can be finicky, and they often play with a toy once—then never again. If you’re not sure whether they’ll like a toy, it’s best to opt for something you know they’ll play with. If your cat gets board of a toy easily, you can also consider only letting them play with it occasionally, so it will seem new and more intriguing.
Why do cats put toys in water?
While there’s no definitive explanation for why many cats habitually drop their toys in their water bowls, feline behavior researchers have a few theories. According to experts consulted by pet retailer Chewy, the most likely explanation is that cats bring their toys, or “prey,” back to the place they consider their territory, which is most likely to be where they eat and drink. After the first time accidentally dropping a toy into their water bowl, your cat may have found the activity stimulating. Or they could see their bowl as a good place to store their prey for later. Ultimately, we don’t know for sure why cats put toys in water, but it does seem to be a natural extension of a cat’s hunting and territorial behaviors.
Why does my cat carry around a toy?
This is another cat behavior without a definitive answer. Your cat may be satisfying a hunting and territorial instinct, by keeping their “prey” toy close by and away from competing predators. But another possible explanation suggests nearly the opposite relationship, with your cat expressing parental instincts in relation to the toy—moving it from spot to spot like it’s a kitten. For now, we have only best-guess interpretations of this behavior.
Do cats need chew toys?
Some pets require chew toys for their health—rodent pets like hamsters, for example, have incisor teeth that grow continuously, and must be kept in check through chewing. Cats are not like this, and have no physiological need for chew toys. Instead, chewing is a recreational behavior some cats enjoy more than others.