Boredom is torture for a smart, curious cat. Get your puss the purrfect toy and let the good times roll
Cats and kittens are playful little critters, and every single cat owner wants to spoil their little one with the best cat toys money can buy. That’s not just because they’re super cute and cuddly; when they’re not busy sleeping or eating, cats need to keep their brains busy and their hunting reflexes honed. They also need to claw, wrestle and scratch, and if you don’t provide them with a legitimate target, they’ll assault the furniture, carpets and who knows what else.
Luckily, there are some great cat toys to cover all these needs and more. There are toys for pouncing and grabbing, toys for clawing and toys for chasing. There are toys for leaping on, biting and running through at maniacal speeds. There are toys that will give your cat some exercise and diversion, to stop them from getting lazy, fat and bored. And they’ll also entertain the humans in your household; after all, who can resist playing pounce games with a crazy cat?
If you’re not certain where to start looking, we’ve put together a guide to help you find the best cat toy for your cat specifically. Whether it’s a speed maniac, a lazy dozer, or a springy bundle of energy, we’ve tested out the top cat toys for every budget and personality, so you’re sure to find something that your cat will adore.
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How to choose the best cat toys for your pet
How do I decide which type of toy my cat will like best?
Picking the right toy for your cat is more an art than a science. Cats are contrary individuals, with unpredictable likes and dislikes. Your best bet may be to look for toys that fit in with your cat’s existing behaviour. If your cat is a pouncer, give them something worth pouncing on. If they love to stealth-attack your feet from beneath the bed, give them something to ambush. Most of all, cats are hunters: if a toy looks like prey and moves like prey, they’ll likely be excited to play with it.
Visually, cats are more sensitive to patterns than colours, so stripes or patches of colour can be more interesting to them than bright hues. And they’re really big on movement: anything that moves independently, or that can be moved around, has a better chance of being a hit. Cats love to chase spots of light – hence the popularity of laser pointer toys – while noisy toys that squeak or crinkle are loved by some and hated by others.
Whatever sort of toy you choose, consider resilience and safety. Cats don’t tend to chew and tear toys to destruction like dogs do, but jaws and claws still take their toll, and toys designed for children might not survive much feline attention. Avoid anything that could break and leave sharp edges or points sticking out, and make sure there aren’t any elements that might pull off and become a choking hazard.
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What else should I look out for?
Cat toys don’t get the full-on slobber treatment of the average dog toy, but they might still come into contact with bodily fluids, so being washable is a definite plus.
Some toys come with a pouch for concealed catnip or treats, which can be a good way to get a cat to interact with a toy or a way of giving a lazy cat a bit of a workout if they want a snack. Of course, too many treats is never a good idea, so don’t go overboard.
It may also be a good idea to invest in a selection of different types of toy: cats bore easily, and what delights them one day may be dull and passé the next. Finally, remember that many cats regard play as a bonding experience: while you can get toys that are automated or designed for solo play, they’d often rather play with you, so choose accordingly.
The best cat toys to buy in 2023
1. PetzTrendz Cat Scratch Chaser: A classic scratch and chase toy
Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon
It might not look much, but this modern classic cat toy is a two-in-one entertainer. On the one paw, your cat can get their claws stuck into the resilient scratchpad. On the other, they can chase the ball around the outside track; the more they paw it and try to grab it, the faster it goes. The scratchpad is replaceable and can be covered in catnip for added puss-appeal.
Key features – Plastic toy with scratch mat and ball; Available in 3 colours; Dimensions: 400 x 400 x 50mm
2. Jackson Galaxy Air Wand: Ingenious update of the classic teaser toy
Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon
Okay, so this one’s pretty pricey for what looks like an old-school rod and teaser toy, but this puss-pleaser comes with a few new tricks. The rod is telescopic, making it easier to stow the toy away, with a button on the top part that retracts the cord when playtime has come to an end. What’s more, the teasers can be clipped on and off, so you can switch the flying feather toy for a heavier ground toy if you fancy a change. It’s better built than your average teaser toy, as well, even if it’s not quite as claw and jaw-proof as the GoCat Catcher, and the feather teaser seems to glide through the air and hop around with the slightest jerk of the wand. Just be aware that older versions with a plastic feather teaser won’t have the same flying style or staying power as the latest model, where the feathers are the real deal.
Key features – Telescopic rod with nylon string and feather teaser; Dimensions: 254 x 95 x 51mm
3. Kong Kickeroo: The perfect paws-on toy for wrestling cats
Price: from £8 | Buy now from Amazon
Some cats want to wrestle it, some want to cuddle it – either way, Kong’s Kickeroo is a deservedly popular feline toy. It’s designed for stalking, wrestling and snuggling, with a plush body and fuzzy tail that give your puss a satisfying bulk to bite and claw into. Unlike children’s soft toys it’s robust enough to take rough treatment from larger cats, and it’s stuffed with catnip to get their interest straight away. There’s a range of patterns, from tiger to giraffe to cow, and a smaller model for kittens too.
Key features – Plush cat toy; Available in various patterns; Dimensions: 530 x 95 x 70mm
4. PetSafe Frolicat Bolt: The light-chasing game for energetic cats
Price: £25 | Buy now from Argos
Cats love to chase lights, whether they come from a laser pointer or the reflective glass surface of your watch. The advantage of the Frolicat Bolt, however, is that it automates the fun, sending its laser beam out in a variety of random patterns to keep kitties on their toes. It has three settings, automatic, manual and timer, with the latter allowing you to see the Bolt to run by itself for up to 20 minutes. The adjustable, low-level lasers pose no threats to cat eyes, but the noise might drive you crackers after a while. It runs off four AA batteries.
Key features – Automatic laser light, x 4 AA batteries required; Dimensions: 25.4 x 7.62 x 7.62cm (HWD)
5. CatIt Senses 2.0 Play Circuit: A crazy chase game for active cats
Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon
The Play Circuit takes feline chase games to a whole new level, allowing you to construct modular tracks where your cats can push and pounce on balls as they roll around. The modules have handy “peepholes” where your cat can jam a paw and try to stop or push the balls, and you can vary the layout or add new modules to extend the circuit. Add activity centres, glowing balls and more, and this is less a cat toy, more a full-blown feline pastime.
Key features – Seven tubular track modules with 100 different combinations; Compatible with other Senses toys and previous-generation modules; Dimensions: 60 x 50 x 1100mm (approx)
6. Tribal Interactive Puzzle Box: The thinking cat’s perfect puzzle toy
Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon
The Puzzle Box is a big flat cuboid, with holes where you can hide three balls and a mouse. The holes are roughly paw-sized – but only one side has openings big enough for your puss to push anything out. It’s a trial of experimentation and ingenuity which should keep them busy for hours at a time, and you can add other toys or treats to keep the amusement level high. This is one case where curiosity certainly won’t kill the cat.
Key features – Fibreboard box with holes, two large balls, one small ball, one toy mouse; Dimensions: 290 x 290 x 60mm
7. Catit Play Pirates Cat Cannon: A blast for dozy cats who love to hide
Price: £13 | Buy now from Amazon
If your cat’s a bit sedate for the high-speed thrills of a cut tunnel, consider this alternative, fashioned amusingly like a pirate’s cannon. It’s made from a nice, thick fabric and makes the perfect spot for cats to hide or snooze. They can stick their heads out of the slot at the rear to tangle with the feather fuze, or hurl themselves out of the barrel to pounce on your ankles as you’re walking by. It’s robust, easy to store and a real feline favourite – especially with slightly lazy cats that want somewhere snug to lurk.
Key features – Collapsible tunnel with removable wheels and feather toy fuse; Dimensions: 280 x 280 x 533mm
8. PAWZ Road Cat Tunnel: Fast and furious antics for speed-crazed cats
Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon
From cardboard boxes to throws on the sofa, cats love to dash through and underneath the weirdest things. Perhaps that’s why this innocuous-looking toy is such a hit with the kits. It’s perfect for speeding into and flying out the other end, with a crinkly fabric covering that makes an entertaining racket as they go. With a collapsible design, midway holes and three tubes converging on a single hub, you can never be sure where your cat might go in or come out, which makes it fun for human spectators, and this one even includes a removable dangly ball with bell to give your puss something to whack or pounce on. Add another mog to the mix for results that are twice as hilarious, or double up with a teaser toy. Either way, it’s YouTube gold.
Key features – Three collapsible tunnels connecting at the middle; Crinkly leopard print fabric; Dimensions: 254 x 74 x 508mm