Cats may spend a large percentage of their day sleeping, but play is important too. Play is more than just a way for a cat to pass time. It is a way for cats to get exercise, develop and maintain physical coordination, challenge themselves mentally, and satisfy their natural drive to hunt. Finding the right cat toys can help your cat get in the playtime that he/she needs to be healthy!
Cats Need to Play
There are two big problems that can develop when a cat isn’t getting the playtime that he/she needs. First, the cat may become overweight, because more calories are being gained than being lost. Being overweight can lead to a whole host of medical problems, like diabetes, that can cost a ton in veterinary bills.
Second, the cat may become destructive. Cats get bored too! Without proper cat toys, a cat may decide to entertain themselves by playing with their human’s things instead. This is sometimes misinterpreted as the cat having behavioral problems when really he/she is a good cat without a properly enriched home.
Types of Cat Toys
Looking at the aisle of cat toys at your local pet store can be intimidating. There are so many different ones out there! Despite the variety on the shelves, there is really only about 5 different types of cat toys.
- Catnip Toys These toys are often made of material and stuffed with catnip. Cats go crazy for these because the smell of the catnip produces a hyperactive “high” in cats. However, sensitivity to catnip is genetic, so there are some cats who do not react to it.
- Feather Toys Feather toys have a feather attached for the cat to chase after as if it were a bird. There is something about the movement of feathers that is irresistible to cats!
- Wand Toys A wand toy is a toy that is meant for interactive play between a cat and a human. A long wand with a cat toy attached to the end allows the cat to play full force without the human getting scratched.
- Puzzle Toys These toys combine snacking and playing. A treat is placed inside the toy and the cat is challenged to use their skills to get the treat out. When successful, the behavior is rewarded with a yummy treat!
- Electronic Toys Electronic cat toys can include elements of all of the above sorts of cat toys. Laser dots may also be a part of an electronic toy. Many of these are made to give the cat some sort of lifelike interaction with the toy.
Choosing the Best Toy for Your Cat
The best way to determine what cat toys are best for your cat is to try out the different types of toys. Each cat has their own personality and needs. It’s a good idea to have a mixture of toys that your cat can play with on his/her own and toys that let you two interact. Playing with your cat helps to develop a positive relationship! Don’t underestimate the value of interacting with your kitty.
Cats like to play with toys that best imitate their favorite sort of prey animal. Some cats prefer cat toys that can move like a bird (floating and flying), while others prefer toys that move like a mouse or a lizard (hiding, peeking out, crawling on the ground, etc). Make sure to mimic these prey creatures during interactive play with your cat!
If your cat needs to lose some weight, interactive toys may be the best thing to get them moving. Overweight cats are often lazy and won’t take the initiative to play with a toy on their own. Puzzle toys may incentivize these cats to play, but you have to watch how many calories they are consuming with the treats.