One of the main points of cat toys is to provide an outlet for your cat to exercise their instinct to hunt. Cat are natural born hunters and all the cat therapy in the world is not going to turn them into pacifists. If you do not give your cat an outlet to exercise its instinct to hunt, they are likely to act out by scratching your furniture, or knocking pictures and precious items off of your shelves. In addition, they are more likely to be moody and lethargic.
Exercise for your kitty is another important goal of cat toys. Just like you, your cat needs exercise to stay healthy and happy. Toys also provide your cat with mental stimulation and exercise. In fact, there are a whole set of cat toys, called puzzle toys, designed specifically to stimulate and challenge your cat’s brain.
Interactive toys that include the owner are great way to strengthen the bond and trust between you and your cat. This will increase your cat’s socialization and affection for you.
Should I Give My Cat Catnip?
This is hotly debated subject. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is an herb that belongs to the mint family. Only about 70% of cats react to catnip and no cats react to catnip until they are at least six months old. Interestingly lions, tigers, panthers and domestic cats all have intense reactions to catnip. Cats seek out this herb in the wild.
The active ingredient of catnip appears to be the volatile oil nepetalactone, which mimics a feline pheromone causing instant arousal and excitement when cats smell it. Cats that are sensitive to catnip often roll around on the ground or run around excited. Some people describe it as their cat being high or stoned. The effects generally only last for about 10 minutes.
Catnip can be used as a training tool. Putting a little catnip in your cat’s new cat bed will get them to try it out. Similarly, putting some catnip on a new scratching post will encourage your cat to explore it faster.
Some animal ethicists suggest that purposely getting you cat stoned is like getting a child stoned and highly immoral. Their a number of problems with this line of reasoning. The most obvious is that a cat is not a human child. Second, is that cats of all types seek out the intoxicating effects of catnip in the wild. A third is that many animals in the wild willing seek out mild intoxication. For instance dolphins will purposely antagonize puffer fish, causing them to spew out a toxin that gets the dolphins high. Note that dolphins are supposed to be some of the smartest animals on Earth. Elk will eat rotten apples to get drunk.
These dime store philosophers are confusing human ethics with cat ethics. Just as your cat has different dietary needs, they also have different ethical requirements. Applying human nutrition or ethics to cats makes about about as much sense as trying a lion for murder if it killed a human or an antelope.
If your cat seems to handle catnip well, don’t worry about giving them some catnip as you enjoy a cool glass of buttery chardonnay.
Should I get my cat a laser toy?
Most laser pointers and laser cat toys use an “eye” safe laser. While this is fine for accidentally shining the laser in your cat’s or your eyes, you should never purposely shine a laser into your cat’s eyes.
Cats love chasing the red dot of a laser around. There are very few cats who will not take chase after a playfully dancing intense, red dot. This can be great exercise for your cat and is likely to engage even the most sedentary cat. It is also good mental exercise, as you cat figures out how to pounce on the dot. This triggers your cat’s instinct to hunt. In the wild cats hunt eight or more times a day.
The downside of laser toys is that your cat never gets the satisfaction of actually physically catching the dot. This can lead to frustration and some cats can become moody, aggressive or exhibit compulsive behavior as a result. One solution is to end the dot on a toy, such as a toy mouse. This can give your cat the satisfaction of catching their prey. Another part of the solution is to be aware of your cat’s mood. If they begin to act overly stimulated, it’s probably time to put away the laser toy.
Despite the potential concerns with laser toys, when used with these precautions in mind they are safe and can provide a time for you to bond with your cat.
Review of Cat Toys
Note these reviews are based on the above criteria and what others have said about these products.
Interactive Cat Toys:
These cat toys engage you with your cat together. This builds trust and affection with your cat, as opposed to more passive toys.
This has to be one of the simplest and cheapest cat toys on the market and yet it is also very highly rated. It is a variation on the fishing pole type of interactive cat toys. Basically it is just a spring length of thin steel with a paper wadding for the cat to chase and paper wadding for a handle. Many people have said it is their cat’s favorite toy. It engages you with your cat and gets them exercise and allows them to practice their hunting skills.
This is a classic pet wand. The wand comes in two pieces for easy shipping and storage. This also allows for a longer wand at 33 inches (84 cm). Cats seem to love the group of feathers. Customers were amazed at the durability. This is also a fairly inexpensive toy that engages you with your cat.
Excellent Customer Reviews
These toys challenge your cats brain. They can be left out so that whenever your cat is bored or frisky they can challenge their brain, even if you are not around or they do not have another cat to play with.
Cat Amazing – Best Cat Toy Ever! Interactive Treat Maze & Puzzle Feeder for Cats
There are a number of cat toys that have a hidden ball or treat inside a box or other confined space. This challenges your cat to figure out how to get the treat out of the box. This toy is made of cardboard, which is an ideal surface for your cat to scratch on. The customer reviews are very positive.
This toy is designed to stimulate your cat’s natural hunting instinct. It consists of some mice looking feeders and the product suggests eliminating your cat’s normal feed bowl. This of course means that you will be feeding your cat dry food, which can be less healthy. Once the mice are filled with kibble you hide them around the house, which forces your cat to ‘hunt’ for their food. Most customers seem to like the product, although some complained about the mess of having bits of kibble all over the house.
This toy is a track in which a ball moves along the twisting turning track and there are areas where the track is not covered for the cat to swat at the ball. The reviews seem generally positive. Most cats seem to enjoy swatting at the ball and it engages their mind and hunting instincts.
This is the penultimate high tech cat toy for your baby. It is a combination camera, microphone, and laser pointer toy. When you download the app on your phone you can remotely monitor your pet and also using your finger to move the laser around to interact with you cat remotely. It is fairly small at 3x3 inches (7.6x7.6 cm). It is much more expensive than the low tech toys reviewed herein.