I spend all day playing with cats, so it’s a given that I know what toys cats like best. My top 10 cat toys are different from most because I find the cheapest toys are the most fun. Brand names mean nothing to me or the cats, and they should mean nothing to you, either. I’ve spent a fortune on cat toy fails, and was thinking to write about my least favorite toys, but ain’t nobody got time for all that! Suffice it to say, most of my top 10 cat toys are only found online. Big box stores specialize in cheap, mass-produced brand name products intended to appeal to YOU. Ever wonder why you can’t find Yeowww! cat nip toys at PetsMart? It’s because they source much higher quality cat nip and fabric than some other more widely known names – names like Kong and Martha Stewart – so the box stores can’t make enough of a profit without pricing you out of the purchase. We won’t even get me started on why the typical cat toy aisle is HALF THE SIZE OF THE BIRD TOY AISLE. Oh my, that really got my dander up, my apologies! Without further ado, my top 10 cat toys to use while cat sitting and for my own cats.
Yeowww! Various Cat Nip Toys available at Amazon and many other places.
None better available commercially. Beware of fake banana toys that do not have Yeowww! stitched into the fabric. You know it’s good because it stains in ugly brown patches where the licking and the wrestling in the dirt leave their marks. Never wash it though, or you’ll ruin your cat’s life. Just kick it under the couch if company comes over!
Go Cat’s “Da Bird” available at Amazon and many other places.
Great for exercise, this one will really get cats flying! It flies like a bird, feathers spinning and making a fun buzzing sound that drives cats wild. This toy has been around for about an eon, and it’s been my favorite forEVER. Be prepared to buy replacement feathers, as cats often believe they are attacking an actual bird!
Go Cat’s “Cat Catcher” available at Amazon and many other places.
Cats love this cable-like connection to the mouse on the end for realistic, jerky movements. This toy is good for both the birders and the mousers in your household, working equally well on the floor and in the air. Replicating a nervous mouse with the slightest hand movements will win your cat’s adoration permanently.
Cat Dancer’s “The Cat Dancer” available at Amazon and many other places.
I buy these by the dozen and leave them in client houses. This toy is actually my favorite. I play “Bug in the House!!!!” with it, tapping it against walls and furniture, across the floor and even against windows (carefully!). The simple, yet unique, steel wire/cardboard twist design perfectly replicates a quivering and disoriented bug to a cat. I’ve gotten older cats, sick cats, limited sight and hearing impaired cats to play with it. The tiniest movement of your hand results in a wild, aimless bouncing of the other end, frustrating cats who watch your hand for tell-tale movement. It’s simple, inexpensive and FUN.
Cat Dancer’s “The Cat Charmer“ available at Amazon and many other places.
Did you ever watch rhythmic gymnasts twirl the ribbon all fancy-like at the Olympics and think “Pfffffft anyone can do that!” Well, now you can have your own ribbon, too! Except with a cat (cute outfit optional). Lots of cats love to watch the swirling fabric, trying to decide just where the end is and if it will bite back. I have dozens of pictures of cats who just gave up and dove into the spiraling mass of fabric and got all tangled up. Lots of fun, especially for the youngest of cats!
Laser lights – any brand – available anywhere, and of course, Amazon.
First, the warnings, and there are two. First, do not shine this into the eyes of your cat, nor the neighbor’s dog, nor low-flying pilots (it’s a felony). Secondly, these lights can cause seizures and/or neurotic behavior from over-stimulation with some cats and dogs. Please discontinue use immediately and forever if you see your cat doing something weird, and don’t overdo it. Back to the fun – you can have so many laughs giving your cats something fun to do. Watching TV? You can still entertain your cat. Nearby wall not have enough paw prints on it? Run the laser light up the wall while a cat is watching. You’ve seen the cat videos, get your cat a laser.
DIY Tin Foil Ball – Available in your kitchen, but you can still get the tin foil on Amazon, and many other places.
If you’re broke, or too lazy to go find another toy, a tin foil ball can provide lots of fun. Just crumple foil loosely into the shape of a ball and toss it. Couldn’t be easier or less expensive! If you have a milk ring from a freshly opened gallon of milk, you can drop that on the floor for an instant toy, too. I’ve had cats crashing into my appliances for years chasing free toys around the kitchen.
DIY Cat-in-a-Bag – Paper or Plastic – Available anywhere in your home, and yes, Amazon and many other places.
Simply acquire a bag, and drop it on the floor. If it’s a plastic bag with handles, be sure to cut them as they’re a choking hazard. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, be sure to bring at least one bag of groceries home in their paper bag. Your cats will love you forever and you just saved a bunch of money on a cat toy. Make sure to put down at least one less bag than amount of cats in the home. Watching cats play king of the bag is endlessly entertaining!
DIY Cat-in-a-Box – Preferably cardboard, especially from Amazon cat toy purchases.
Same principle as the bag really, but make sure to appear to cherish the box. The more you like it, the more they covet it. You can leave them out to sit in them, or cut holes and hide toys inside for them to go “fishing” for with their paws. You can put tissue paper in it, or a plastic crinkly bag, treats or toys.. you’re only limited by your imagination!
Finally, YOU are the best cat toy. Don’t buy the toys that stick to things or hang off doors, don’t get the ones that run in circles or flip a string unless you are there to watch it. Make sure your scratching post is near where you sit and any cat toys too, for that matter. Cats like to hang out with you, with their toys or without them. When you interact with your cat, and play toys, or pet and cuddle them, you send a message to them that says “I am the best cat toy ever.” And you are.