Although they are much safer inside from disease and danger, most house cats tend to be overweight and under active. Cats, like people and dogs, benefit from keeping fit and active, both mentally and physically. Exercise is most essential for your cat’s mental and physical health since it relieves stress and boredom, improves circulation, builds muscle tone and can prevent or reduce behavioral problems. So, we need to get our cats up and moving, and there is of course no better way to entice them out their natural instincts to stalk and chase prey than by engaging them with some interesting and fun cat toys. It is also a good idea to keep your cat well-groomed. There are a variety of terrific cat grooming products that will make your cat happy and are easy to use.
Types of Toys for Fun and Games
Cat Toys on a Wand or Stick
A wand toy can be as simple as a stick with a thin piece of fabric or soft ribbon tied to it. You can wave, twitch, flutter and circle the wand around randomly so that the ribbon moves enticing like an insect or bird or other prey. A key added benefit of the wand toy is that it lets you keep some distance between your cat’s claws and your skin.
There are hundreds of variations of the wand style of cat toy, and most are relatively inexpensive. The wand itself can be wire, wood or plastic. Anything pliable but firm will do. Many objects can be attached to the wand to attract your cat’s attention: feathers, strings or small stuffed cat toys. These cat toys can be accented with bells or electronic noises, or with catnip scent or fur that smells good to your cat. Feathers from peacocks or other large birds can be used as wand toys themselves.
It is best to put the wand toy away after playtime for three reasons:
- This toy should be available to your cat only when you’re playing so you can build on your relationship with your cat.
- When you put the toy away after a play session, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s still safe. Watch for pieces of string or other components that might fall off the cat toy and get swallowed by your cat. If you notice any loose toy parts, it’s probably time to retire the old toy and get a new one.
- How many times have you seen a mouse or birds just hanging around a cat? If you removed the toy after playtime, it remains exciting and gain their interest when you start the next play time.
Some wand or stick toys you might like to try:
Balls are also very attractive to many cats. Their movement along the floor mimics the movement of scampering mice or other prey animals, which will entice cats to chase. You can insert treats or catnip into some balls to make playing with them more rewarding and exciting for your cat. Other balls have bells or other small objects inside them that make noise to attract your cat’s attention. The only downside to ball toys is that they often end up under the couch or other furniture!
Some ball toys you might like to try:
Many people allow cats to have free and full access to food at all times. This can be convenient for the cat’s owner, but it often leads to cats eating more than they should. Instead of free feeding, try using a food toy to deliver the cat food. Your cat will have to work a bit for her meals, which will engage her mind and satisfy their natural instincts to hunt. Food-dispensing toys can also slow down cats who eat too quickly and encourage more activity throughout the day.
Start with a hungry cat and some of your cat’s favorite treats. Open the food toy and make it extremely easy for your cat to get a treat out of the toy. This process will remove any fear your cat might have of the toy itself, and it will help her learn the association between the toy and eating. As soon as your cat is happy to eat out of the toy, make the situation a little more challenging. Close the toy, or reduce the size of the opening so that your cat has to interact with the toy (touching, pawing or nosing it) to get the treat to come out. Over time, begin to mix your cat’s kibble with the treats. Over time you can gradually fade out the treats until you’re using only kibble. Finally, set out a couple of the toys in different places in your house, and feed your cat only with the toys. No more boring food bowls!
The majority of cats in the U.S. find catnip stimulating. Adding this herb to play time can greatly increase your cat’s entertainment! Catnip can be stuffed into toys or packed into balls. Try sprinkling it onto a fresh piece of newspaper or into a paper grocery bag to invite your cat to play. It’s safe for your cat to ingest catnip, especially if you choose an organically grown brand without any additives. One caution about catnip: Some cats become very excited when smelling or eating it, so be careful about petting or rubbing your cat until you know how she responds. When cats get over excited, they can sometimes bite.
Some catnip toys you might like to try:
Feather Type of Cat Toys are the Cat’s Meow of Fun
Cats love to bat and play at almost anything and if it is light weight and fluffy, so much the better. Feathers do just the trick and cats just love the way they feel and move. They are easy to make if you go to a craft store you can find all the materials. It is important to note that your cat’s safety is most important to make sure that all parts are secured in place correctly. Especially if you have a baby or toddler in the house that could pick up the toy and ingest something that would be a choking hazard.
Some feather cat toys you might like to try:
Toys Made of Attractive Materials
Similar to using catnip to attract cats to toys, toy makers combine materials that cats like in one toy:
- Feel: wool, fur, fleece
- Sound: crinkly materials, bells, electronic chirps
- Sight: flutter, feathery materials, lights, moving parts
- Smell and taste: fur, added flavoring (catnip fish, fowl, beef, honeysuckle, etc.)