Choosing the right toy for your cat is an important part of keeping their behaviour under control as they grow from a kitten to an adult. As with humans, cats need mental and physical stimulation to prevent them from getting bored and becoming destructive.
Finding the types of toys that allow you to play with your cat is also a great way to bond with your pet, while also allowing them to practice their natural hunting skills.
So, how do you choose the best toys for your cat?
When you are buying a toy, safety is paramount – after all, you will be leaving this toy with your cat while they are alone, so it is important to check the following:
- Is it well made? If not, if it falls to pieces, will the pieces become a danger?
- Is it a potential choking hazard?
- Is it so large that it could hurt my cat?
Remembering to check these criteria against every toy you see is vitally important.
What types of toys are there?
There are numerous different types of toys for cats, with each offering a different approach to keeping your cat occupied and happy.
Catnip Toys – Catnip is a strong smelling plant that around half of cats have inherited an obsession with. Its aroma and the chemical compounds within often make cats extremely playful and become hyperactive, and if eaten, works as a sedative. Many manufacturers design toys with pouches that you can fill with catnip, giving cats an added dimension to playtime.
It is important to note, however, that overexposure to catnip cat will cause your cat to lose interest over time.
Teasers – A teaser is a toy – usually a wand – that allows you to play with your cat and test their reaction time. More often that not, a feature or ribbon is attached to the wand and the toy is waved infront of the cat until they try to catch or attack it. Unlike dogs, it is also safe to use a laser pen to keep them entertained, allowing you to keep your cat moving while you take a seat.
Prey Toys – Cats are carnivorous hunters, and are always happy to hone their skills during playtime, and this is done with prey toys. By having a small toy that looks like a cat’s normal target such as a mouse, vole or similar. The trick with prey toys is to make them small enough to fit in your cat’s mouth, as cats will often want to trophy their kill by carrying it around.
Automatic Toys – While cats do tend to spend most of the day sleeping, when they are awake they can be very demanding of attention, which isn’t great if you’ve just got home from work and are exhausted. In these cases, automatic toys that can function autonomously are great for grabbing your cat’s attention, even if you’re too tired to join in.
A popular automatic toy across the country for cats is a puzzle feeder. A puzzle feeder helps to mentally exhaust your cat by posing a simple conundrum that they must work out, and once they do, it provides the with a treat.
Environments – While not strictly a toy, there are many different items that can cats occupied for hours, including cat trees, scratching poles and cat dens where they cat jump around and use as a lookout post while they people-watch.
How do I know which is best for my cat?
While you can monitor you cats and see what their favourite activity is, it’s often a little easy to opt for a little trial and error.
As with dogs, not all cats enjoy the same activities. By buying a couple of different toys from each category, you can see which items grab their attention and keep them happy, and which toys they choose to ignore. This allows you to prioritise purchases in the future.
In short, it is unlikely anyone will have a better idea of how to keep your cat other thank yourself, so pay attention to them, keep them company and remember to always think about their safety first.
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