The 9 Best Cat Toys to Buy in 2018

Your pet doesn't have to be bored while you're away

Kitten playing with feather toy
Benjamin Torode / Getty Images

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Many pet owners assume cats are solitary creatures who would rather be alone, but in reality they still need love, attention and a lot of activity to stay happy. Just because you have to go to work every day doesn’t mean your feline friend has be bored while you’re away. The right cat toys can keep a solitary cat from growing listless or wreaking too much havoc in an empty home.

Depending on your cat’s interests and personality, a toy can keep her entertained all day, increase her intelligence and stimulate her mind. While you should also invest in toys that encourage bonding between you and your cat, these options are just as fun when you’re away. Here are the best toys for your cat when they are home alone. 

  • 01 of 09

    Best Overall: Trixie Cat Toy

    Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

    The Trixie Cat Toy is a toy with pedigree. Developed by author Helena Dbalý, who literally wrote the book on feline play, it’s tailor-made to keep cats entertained for hours. Just stick a few pieces of kibble inside, and watch your kitty swat, paw, and strategize their way to a tasty treat. It’s a great bet for food-driven cats who need to slow their roll, and its multi-tiered peg-and-tunnel design can be reconfigured to keep things interesting. It’s this multifaceted design (along with its attractive price) that makes it our pick for best overall cat toy to occupy lonely cats.

    Owners mention that it’s well-constructed and surprisingly heavy, keeping cats from dragging it around when they play. Others add that it’s been indispensable when it comes to keeping their feline friends from gulping down their food too quickly.

  • 02 of 09

    Best Budget: Easyology Pets Amazing Cat Roller Toy

    This Easyology toy is practically a steal for all that you’re getting. Watch as your cats bat around the colorful balls that fill this three-level tower, eagerly following their movement. The smart design also means that it can be enjoyed by multiple cats at once, making it an especially good deal for multi-cat homes.

    Owners say that the balls can be easily popped in and out of the tracks, and that it’s a joy to watch cats bop away with abandon. Some do add that the construction is fairly lightweight and moves around a bit during play, but it also includes non-skid pads to ensure it doesn’t topple.

  • 03 of 09

    Best Food Motivator: PetSafe FUNKitty Egg Cersizer Interactive Toy

    If your cat’s the kind of pet that eats their food way too quickly — to the point that they’re uncomfortable or choking — then this toy from PetSafe is perfect for them. It’s pretty straightforward: Fill the plastic egg with some kibble, and your cat will move it around as it tries to get food out of one of its tiny holes. It’s a great tool for slowing down rapid eaters, and can even provide a little exercise for overweight kitties.

    Owners praise the simple-but-effective design, and appreciate that the size of the holes is adjustable  —adding an extra challenge when Fluffy gets wise to the idea. If your cat needs to work a little bit for its food (and enjoy every minute of it), the PetSafe Egg Cersizer is a sure bet for your home.

  • 04 of 09

    Best Scratcher: YOUTHINK Collapsible Cardboard Scratcher Toy

    Ah, the scratcher — a perpetual mainstay in the world of cat toys, and an absolute essential if you’re worried about your furniture staying intact. This scratcher from YOUTHINK takes a step beyond the standard approach. In addition to functioning as a simple scratcher, its ringed design means that it doubles as a fancy lounger for your kitty. Meanwhile, a ball toy (included) serves to make things even more entertaining while you’re away.

    The collapsible honeycomb paper lets owners customize the shape for multiple modes of play, and ensure it breaks down for easy storage. Owners say the material is stronger than expected, with minimal debris— although, some add, their cats like sleeping on it just as much as they enjoy getting their scratching fix out.

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  • 05 of 09

    Best Battery Operated: Pawaboo Electronic Cat Toy

    Need a little extra oomph to keep your cat interested? Try out this high-tech toy from Pawaboo, which features a battery-powered mouse that darts in and out of holes as your cat tries to chase it down. It’s supremely amusing (for cats and their resident humans alike, it must be said), and an adjustable speed keeps things from getting old when your cat hones its paw-eye coordination.

    Owners say the internal motor is fairly quiet, and love that it keeps cats preoccupied for long spans of time. Bear in mind that the toy does tend to drain batteries quickly, some say, but overall the Pawaboo is an easy pick for the best battery-operated cat toy for your money.

  • 06 of 09

    Best Splurge: munchiecat Sushi Cat Toys

    Perhaps a bit more than you want to spend, the Sushi Cat doesn’t come cheap. But it’s so adorable that we think it’s definitely worth the splurge. There’s just something about the combination of cats and sushi that’s meant to be — and don’t worry, we’re talking about a plush toy, not actual seafood. The set comes in a mock-bento box, and features eight pieces of lovingly detailed, hand-sewn “sushi.” It’s so cute that it even looks great as a piece of decor (at least when your cat’s not cuddling away).

    Each piece of sushi is filled with either catnip or tiny bells to guarantee your cat stays entertained; owners say that the latter aren’t too loud or distracting, and that the overall set is attractive and well-made.

  • 07 of 09

    Best for Cats That Like to Hunt: Pioneer Pet SmartCat Peek-A-Prize Toy Box

    Every cat owner knows that their pet has a natural desire to hunt. Who hasn’t watched as Mittens stares out the window, mesmerized by the birds outside? This toy from Pioneer Pet is designed to satisfy your cat’s hunting instincts — no birds required. Just hide a few of their favorite treats in the toy’s array of paw-sized holes, and your cats will spend hours digging around and trying to get them out.

    The toy comes with two balls for immediate use, although some owners like hiding food in the box for extra motivation. Owners say it’s safe and splinter-free, although some don’t recommend it for kittens, who could get their heads caught in one of the holes. Overall, this Pioneer Pet is a great choice for owners of curious, inquisitive cats who love a good challenge.

  • 08 of 09

    Best Catnip: SmartyKat Skitter Critters Cat Toy

    Courtesy of Target

    What cat doesn't love catnip? If you haven't let your feline friend play with this treat in a while — now is the time to stock up on these playful mice that will have your cat going wild. Packaged in a set of three these plush mice are filled with catnip which will have your cat pouncing to attack in no time. While these are great to give them while you are out of the home you might want to watch your cat go wild when you are around to enjoy their activity. 

    Reviewers have commented that even cats that only play with toys for a few minutes will get hours of entertainment out of these. All in all a smart purchase at an extremely affordable price. 

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  • 09 of 09

    Best Chewing: Petstages Dental Kitty Chew Wheel Cat Toy

    Yes, cats need chewing toys too! This chewing wheel has spokes to massage their teeth and gums keeping their mouth healthy and them away from chewing your furniture. It also has ribbons on it for some playful batting action. It is made of non-toxic durable rubber material so you won't need to worry about it being harmful to your best friend. 

     Reviewers note that this is a great toy but possibly more suited for kittens who are teething as opposed to older cats who are set in their ways.