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Play time with your cat isn’t only fun for the both of you—it’s also an important aspect of your cat’s healthy development and making sure he or she is active and entertained. This is especially important if you have an indoor-only or solo cat who doesn't get as much stimulation.
Different toys do different things, but one thing they all have in common is that they keep your cat’s senses sharp and help them maintain a healthy weight (especially if the toy encourages a lot of jumping and pouncing). Interactive cat toys also help you form a bond with your kitty, ensuring lots of snuggles when playtime is over. But, as any cat owner knows, cats can be beyond picky when it comes to what excites them and what bores the heck out of them.
To keep you from buying duds, we rounded up the best cat toys for keeping your kitty entertained.
Best Overall: BENTOPAL Automatic Cat Toy
Type: Automatic | Weight: 11.53 ounces | Material: Plastic | Lifestage: All ages
The BENTOPAL Automatic Cat Toy is a motorized, robotic toy that does it all. 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 can run on any type of floor, including carpet, thanks to its large wheels.
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.
Best Interactive: Kong Active Feather Teaser Cat Toy
Type: Interactive | Weight: 0.96 ounces | Material: Plastic with fabric/feather toy | Lifestage: Adult
Playtime is one of the ways you can bond with your cat, and this interactive toy from KONG—a company known for making toys that last—is a great way to encourage your cat to chase, hunt, and capture this “prey.” The Dangle Feet Teaser has a character—there’s a bird, a flamingo, or an owl-like creature—attached to an 18.5 inch string that stretches, retracts, and easily swings around.
The bright feathers on the character and the crinkle sound from the filling inside entice your cat to do his best to capture the toy. Each toy is filled with premium catnip, which helps keep your cat interested, energetic, and entertained. Like all wand toys, it's best for your cat to only play with this toy while supervised, to avoid any injuries.
Best Laser: FurryFido Laser Cat Toy
Type: Interactive | Weight: Not listed | Material: Stainless steel | Lifestage: Adult
Laser toys are a cat favorite, but many of them are flimsy or require small watch batteries that most people don’t have conveniently lying around. But the FurryFido Laser Cat Toy changes the laser experience. Just keep in mind that some cats get frustrated by laser toys, so you may want to combine this activity with treats or other toys that your cat can actually catch.
This high-quality laser not only has a stainless steel finish, you can also plug it into a charger or a computer with the included USB, so you never have to change the batteries. As an added bonus, it has two additional modes–UV light and white flashlight. You can use the UV light to check for hidden pet stains on the carpet or upholstery and the flashlight to search for lost toys underneath the couch.
Never shine a laser directly into any pet or person's eyes, because it could result in vision damage.
Best Motorized: HEXBUG nano Robotic Cat Toy
Type: Automatic | Weight: 0.02 ounces | Material: Plastic, electronics | Lifestage: Adult
If you’ve ever had a moth flying around your room or an ant crawling on the floor, you know that cats are inherent bug hunters. The HEXBUG nano Robotic Cat Toy helps satisfy your cat’s hunting instinct without leaving dead bugs for you to clean up.
Designed to look like an insect, 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 drags behind it to entice your cat to play.
Best for Indoor Cats: SmartyKat Skitter Critters Catnip Cat Toys
Type: Automatic | Weight: 1.13 ounces | Material: Recycled plastic | Lifestage: All ages
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 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.
Best for Older Cats: Petstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy
Type: Interactive | Weight: 0.06 pounds | Material: Plastic | Lifestage: Adult
If your senior kitty seems a little less active these days, the Petstages Tower of Tracks is the ideal solution. This three-tiered toy includes three colorful spinning balls contained in three tracks. When your cat bats at the balls, they spin and roll, but don’t leave the tracks. This satisfies your cat’s hunting instinct but since the balls don’t leave the tower, your senior kitty won’t have to chase them around the room or go looking for them under the couch.
This toy is a great solution for the working cat parent, too. Your kitty can entertain themself even when you’re not at home.
Best for Exercise: YVE LIFE Automatic Cat Laser Toy
Type: Interactive | Weight: 8.47 ounces | Material: Plastic | Lifestage: All ages
If you’ve ever used a laser with your cats, you know how much running is involved. In some cases, you might even get tired out before your cat does. That’s why the YVE LIFE Automatic Cat Laser Toy is one of the best cat toys for exercise.
This automatic laser toy, which runs on AA batteries or a USB charge, features two modes: slow and fast. As the name suggests, the slow mode slowly moves the laser around the room, while the fast mode picks up the speed and makes your cat run back and forth, trying to capture the light. It can draw circles or throw the laser around the room in a random pattern to really get your cat moving.
Best for Food-Motivated Cats: Trixie 5-in-1 Cat Activity Center
Type: Interactive | Weight: 3.2 pounds | Material: Plastic | Lifestage: Adult
The Trixie 5-in-1 Activity Center is a great toy to get a food-motivated cat interacting with a toy. It allows you to hide your cat’s favorite treats—or pieces of dry food—in fish bowl style globes, pegs, alleys, tongues, and tunnels.
Fishing the treats out of the obstacles with their paws piques cats’ curiosity while stimulating the senses. This not only allows kitties to use their intellect and hunting skills, when they succeed, they get a reward (the treat) in the end, which keeps them from getting frustrated. When your cat is done playing, you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to get all of the nooks and crannies clean. The durable plastic is dishwasher safe.
"We like that 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. We found that the board held its place on hard floors, but not as much on carpet." – Joline Buscemi, The Spruce Pets Reviewer
Best for Lazy Cats: OurPets Catnip 24 Karat Cat Toy
Type: Plush toy | Weight: Not listed | Material: Plush | Lifestage: All ages
If your cat doesn’t really like to run or chase things, the OurPets Catnip 24 Karat Cat Toy can help keep him entertained without a lot of effort. The durable canvas carrot is filled with 100% catnip, which is both invigorating and soothing to your cat. Your cat can chew on the canvas, swat at the feathers, or wrap his paws around the carrot and give it some serious bunny kicks. You can also use it as a dangle toy to entice your cat to swat or paw at it, satisfying his natural desire to hunt.
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.
Best Ribbon Toy: Cat Dancer Cat Charmer Toy
Type: Interactive | Weight: 20 grams | Material: Polycarbonate wand, fabric | Lifestage: All ages
The Cat Dancer Charmer is a classic chase toy that’ll have your cat jumping and pouncing around the room. With four feet of fabric, this interactive toy is a great way to keep your pet active and stimulated. The handle is nearly unbreakable, and it’s safe to use with both cats and kittens during playtime. It's cheap and fabric itself is bright and colorful. Kids also love making fun ribbon patterns while dancing around with ribbon toys like these.
"My cat goes crazy for this rainbow 'dancing' toy. If I don't pull this out to play at least once a day she will meow at me incessantly. The long string makes enchanting patterns when you whip it through the air or across the floor, mesmerizing my cat every time. Our favorite way to play is when I drag the string behind me slowly and after she tracks it from across the room, comes her inevitable pounce." — Emily Manchester, Editorial & Strategy Director, Home Group
Best Kicker: West Coast Pet Products 15 Inch Denim Refillable Catnip Kicker
Type: Interactive | Weight: Not listed | Material: Denim and polyester | Lifestage: Adult
When cats are feeling playful, they love to roll around out their backs and bunny kick. A long and skinny kicker toy is the perfect toy for this instinct. There are many toys marketed as "kickers," but if you have an adult cat, be sure to look for one that's at least 12 inches long.
This handmade kicker from Etsy maker West Coast Pet Products is a full 15 inches long, and has a refillable pocket to hold catnip. It's covered in durable denim, so it's less likely to get shredded to ribbons, although this maker does offer kickers covered with other types of fabric. The center is a soft polyester filling, so the toy is flexible and fun for cats.
The BENTOPAL Automatic Cat Toy (view at Amazon) is a well-rounded cat toy that encourages your kitty to jump, chase, swat, bite, and play—all of the things that satisfy their natural prey drive. If you’d rather play with your cats interactively, the KONG Dangle Feet Teaser Feather Assorted Cat Toy (view at Petco) can keep them entertained while tiring them out.
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 Trust The Spruce Pets?
Our writers and editors have tested out dozens of toys with our own cats to help our readers find the best.
Lindsay Boyers is a cat mom of three, who’s been told more than once that she’s too obsessed with her cats (as if that’s even a thing). In addition to testing products for The Spruce Pets, she extensively researches all of her pet purchases before buying, and her cats have all of the toys on this list except for the last two (the rainbow wand and kicker).
This story was edited by Margaret Badore, whose cat loves the Petstages Tower of Tracks toy.