Picking the right cat toys can feel like an impossible feat when your cat prefers to play with anything else EXCEPT the toys you buy. We understand the challenge of finding the right cat toys so here are a few of our best tips for helping your cat to have the best toy box!
SAFETY 1st. We can't stress this enough - CHECK YOUR CAT TOYS BEFORE BUYING! We see all too often that toys, even when new, present pieces that can be a choking hazard for our feline friends if not monitored. Watch for things such as googly eyes, felt pieces, small bells, strings, elastics and other dangerous attachments that can easily detach and make for a problem down the road. If your cat has Pica or even just a tendency to destroy or ingest their toys, be sure to consider toy size, materials, and quality even more.
Aging and upgrading. Favorite toys are great, but as your cat ages it is important to still explore and introduce new toys for them. If your cat has had 90% of their toys since they were a kitten, introduce some new ones into the mix. Check over toys for holes, cotton loss, cracks, sharp edges and anything else that may cause injury and toss them.
Pay attention to what they're telling you. If you watch your cat's behaviors, it's likely that you are able to pick up on things that interest them. Keep a close eye on things they're exploring or attracted to and aim to use that in your decisions for the toys your purchase. A cat who likes wrappers may like crinkle balls, or a cat who likes strings may prefer wand toys to self play toys.
Get a variety. Nothing is more boring than a bin of stuffed mice toys. You want to aim to create a mix of different toys that offer new excitement from one toy to the next. For stuffed toys, look to get a variety of "preys" such as mice, fish and birds. For balls, consider stuffed balls, balls with bells, balls that roll and maybe some that crinkle. Of course there are hundreds of other toys on the market you can add in - the more, the better!
Avoid intimidating toys. Cat toys are continuing to dip into an entirely new era of abilities but much like us, not every cat is going to be so welcoming to the idea of an "upgrade". If you've ever spent $20+ on a cat toy and your cat has liked the box instead - take this as their way of saying "easily entertained by the simple things".
Self play is not for every cat. Have a box of cat toys sitting somewhere collecting dust while your cat is playing with your feet as you walk by? It's possible that your cat just isn't that into self play toys that are seen as "dead" or "lifeless prey. It is great to have these opportunities available for your cat but it can't be an expectation that your cat plays alone.
Do your part. Interactive play between you and your cat is an integral part of your cat's routine. For some families wand toys are used, others might play a game like fetch. With this type of play, it is equally as important that you have a variety of toys that provide different interests to your cat. Try wand toys that offer different preys for your cat and that ignite each of their different senses. You can opt to have different wand toys OR a single toy with multiple attachments.
Know when to put it away. When we talk with families about automatic toys they've tried we often hear, "they liked it for 5 minutes and now they don't bother with it." That's often because it's left out and loses it's excitement as something new. Toys that move predictably (in / out OR left to right OR around in circles) may offer your cat short lived entertainment but this excitement can be reignited if you put it away for some time and reintroduce it in another week or so in a totally different room. It's then new again and curiosity sparks. Get yourself a few different toys (3-5+) and rotate them often - see how your cat responds.
Lasers are not the only option. While many cats love laser pointers, they should not be the only thing your cat plays with. Why? Well, they never truly catch anything which can leave your feline feeling more distressed then fulfilled. It's not much fun to be chasing something endlessly without ever "winning" right?Without sufficient opportunity to use their natural instincts like biting and holding their prey, your cat may not be getting the most of playtime.
Putting the pieces together. A combination of self play toys, interactive wand toys and automatic toys is a great way to keep your cat's happy and healthy while fulfilling their predatory instincts. Start with a few of each and build based on what you learn your cat enjoys most.
Age and health matters. If your cat is not feeling their best, there is a good chance you may see decreased play behaviors in them. Sometimes this means we need to slow the game down or make play a little bit easier by offering it on soft surfaces like a blanket or bed. At times cat's may want softer or larger toys to make play easier. Your cat will greatly appreciate your accommodations. Still need more help? Contact us for more guidance on choosing the best cat toys for your feline companion!