Selecting the Perfect Cat Toy
While your cat may sometimes find a cardboard box more entertaining than a cat toy, that isn’t to say she doesn’t appreciate the real deal. Providing a variety of cat toys will not only keep your cat active, playtime also gives her much-needed quality bonding time with you. While playing, you also might see your cat’s “natural instincts” come to life through stalking and pouncing. This playful attacking or “object play” does wonders to stimulate your her predatory behavior.
Variety—and Access—are Keys to Success
Your cat will enjoy a variety of toys, but some of the usual favorites are teasers, balls, toy mice, balls, catnip-filled toys and interactive toys. Don’t leave all of her toys out after playtime; your cat may become less interested in a toy if she has easy access to it. Some toys may also have small parts that your cat could eat or choke on, so make sure you supervise playtime.
Even the greatest toy on earth is no substitute for having a playdate. Make time for play sessions once or twice a day. What’s equally important is that you stop playing once your cat seems uninterested. So what should you bring to your playdate? Let’s explore your options:
A favorite among cats and kittens, poles and teaser usually come with feathers, ribbons or other enticing items attached. Most cats love it if you animate the target, so keep the line moving and watch as she leaps through the air and performs graceful tricks. This type of play is great for sharpening your kitten’s natural skills like stalking, chasing or pouncing, without making you the prey.
Mice and Balls
Cats and kittens love small, furry toys that resemble other creatures. These toys look like prey and stimulate predatory instincts. After your cat has hunted for her toys, she may decide to bring you the kill. Praise her for a job well done to encourage more play. Always supervise your cat to make sure she doesn’t try to devour her toys. Eating these types of toys may not cause a problem right away, but watch for any signs of gastrointestinal distress and call your veterinarian if you have any concerns.
Mylar balls, plastic balls with bells inside, balls filled with treats or catnip or even light-up balls make a game of fetch exciting and provide a great cardiovascular workout to help your cat stay active, flexible and coordinated.
Catnip is a member of the mint family and contains an essential oil called nepetalactone that can neurologically stimulate your cat. Reactions to catnip can vary: your cat may eat it, smell it, roll in it, get a sudden burst of energy or just mellow out and take a nap. When buying catnip toys, keep in mind that a kitten may not develop a sensitivity to catnip until four to six months of age, and that only 50 percent of all cats respond to catnip.
Scratching is a normal and usual cat behavior. Scratching helps cats remove the outer layers of their claws. This behavior acts like a cat manicure, and helps your cat mark her territory.
Cat scratchers not only give your cat an outlet for her natural instincts, they can save your carpet and furniture from wear and tear. Types of cat scratchers vary: choose from flat scratchers, trees, condos, ramps, towers and perches in an array of shapes and sizes. Some incorporate balls, feathers or toys to catch your cat’s interest, while others provide a comfortable resting spot for an afternoon nap.
Interactive puzzle toys help mentally stimulate your cat by engaging her in play when you’re not home. Many include balls and other items that inspire your cat to chase, bat and uncover hidden items. When you are home, a laser pointer can provide hours of interactive entertainment and exercise for your cat as he tries to catch the bright laser beam.
Cats are naturally interested in common household items like string, twine, rubber bands, ribbon, paper, tissue, buttons, marbles, balloons, tinsel and aluminum foil, but they aren’t safe options. Your cat could easily swallow these items, and if they get stuck in her stomach or intestines, surgery may be required.
Also, get to know your cat. If you notice that your cat stalks the electrical cords in your house, you may want to invest in cord protectors. Doing so will limit the chances of your cat chewing through the cords and getting burned, shocked or electrocuted.