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Whether you're about to adopt a cat and want to prepare by purchasing a few of the best cat toys to help build a bond with your cat, or you have a particularly picky feline at home who just isn't excited by anything you select at the pet store, the last thing you want is more cat clutter around the house.
Cats are natural predators. In the wild, it's their instinct to hunt. Instead of "hunting" your leg, the furniture, or other objects that you may not want them to play with, help them fulfill the need to hunt prey with stimulating, interactive cat toys. A cat's prey sequence is as follows: staring, stalking, chasing, pouncing, biting, and, well, killing. The best toys for indoor cats (like this trending flopping fish) give cats the opportunity to mimic cycling through these actions.
"When cats are young, everything is a toy," says Heather Alvey, a certified cat behavior consultant and owner of Felidae Behavior Consulting. "But as they age, they may develop a prey preference. One cat may prefer toys that resemble birds, while another likes bugs, and a third prefers rodents." Cat parents, take note of what your cats are interested in or even find out your cat's breed, so you can choose the best types of toys that your cat will engage with frequently.
The best cat toys to buy in 2023:
For more of the best products for cats, browse our top guides:
What to look for when shopping for cat toys
Joey Lusvardi, a certified cat behavior consultant who runs Class Act Cats based in Minneapolis, MN, says cat owners should look for the following when shopping for toys for their cat:
✔️ Hunting toys for cats: You want to find a toy that resembles something a cat would hunt: mice, birds, bugs, or other small creatures. Lusvardi also points out that as cats grow, they may develop a preference for cat toys that mimic certain types of prey. "Pay attention to what your cat likes to play with. For example, if your cat seems to really like toys with feathers, they’re probably into hunting birds. Focusing on toys that look like things your cat likes will make them more likely to enjoy the toy."
✔️ Interactive cat toys: Wand toys and toys owners can use to play with their cat are the best kinds of toys. You can move them in a way that looks like prey so your cat’s hunting drive will draw them in.
✔️ Cat puzzle toys: You can also consider puzzle feeders. They require a cat to think to get a food or treat reward so they’re more similar to how a cat would hunt or forage in nature.
- What do cats like to play with?
"Cats prefer toys that are soft so they can grip them in their paws and bite them," says Alvey, who recommends cat toys that resemble real prey. "In general, cats like to hunt smaller animals like birds, mice, bugs, and lizards. The most enticing toys will the be ones that resemble these critters."
- What are the benefits of cat toys?
Cat toys provide exercise play, which is essential to your cat's well-being. "Cats are predators and have an instinctive need to hunt." Alvey explains. "You can help them fulfill that need with an interactive play session that takes them through the prey sequence — staring, stalking, chasing, pouncing, biting, and killing." Alvey also says playing with your cat has the added benefits of stress relief, boosting confidence, and building a bond with your cat.
- What should you consider when buying cat toys?
"When selecting a toy, look for something sturdy and that won't fall apart if your cat bites it," says Alvey. "Make sure that there are no parts that your cat can easily ingest."
- How do you know what your cat likes to play with?
"It is also important to know your particular cat," Alvey points out. "For example, if you have a cat that likes to chew on fabric, then it might be a good idea to find wand toys with a wire instead of a string."
Ysolt Usigan is a lifestyle writer and editor with 15+ years of experience working in digital media. She has created share-worthy content for publishers Shape, What To Expect, Cafe Mom, TODAY, CBS News, HuffPo, The Bump, Health, Ask Men, and Best Gifts. A working mom of two, her editorial expertise in parenting, shopping, and home are rooted in her everyday life.
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