Once upon a time, household cats spent much of their time outdoors and entertained themselves by stalking small creatures or pouncing on leaves and anything else that moved. As cats became more accepted as family members, they started living indoors, and a whole new world of entertainment opened up to them. First, there was the ever-popular – but potentially very harmful – ball of string or yarn, and the occasional stuffed mouse. Then along came the lowly cardboard box and the humble paper bag. These modest toys were essentially the only items available for our indoor cats to play with, assuming that you dont count the occasional resident canine.
Today, however, there is a plethora of toys on the market that have our cats literally jumping for joy. With so many toys to choose from, cat owners can understandably feel a bit overwhelmed when they peruse their local pet store, pet catalog or online retailer. We help take the guesswork out of purchasing playtime paraphernalia with this review of innovative toys that are sure to give you … that is, your frisky feline hours of enjoyment. Then the only question is: Who is having more fun – you or your cat?
Thing in a Bag – Designed to bring out your cats natural stalking instinct, Thing in a Bag is durable and claw- and bite-resistant. Inside the bag are crinkly-sounding materials and a randomly activated motor that makes the thing come alive to intrigue and entertain your cat. Uses three AA batteries (not included). Automatically turns off after three minutes. Additional supplies needed: Phillips screwdriver.
This product retails for $12.99 and is available at PETsMART and Petco. For more information, contact the manufacturer: Happy Dog Toys, a division of Farnam Companies, Inc., 877-HAPPYDOG, www.happydogtoys.com/.
Crazy Circle – Made of tough, durable plastic, Crazy Circle has paw-sized openings through which your cat can poke and chase the plastic ball inside. The Circle comes in small and large sizes and assorted colors. Our judges enjoyed this toy as long as a human kept the ball moving around.
This product retails for $7.99 and is available at PETsMART and Petco. For more information, contact the manufacturer: Petmate, 877-PETMATE, www.petmate.com/.
CritterBug – This easy-to-use laser light captivates cats and even delights dogs and fascinates fish. The CritterBug is irresistible to cats of all ages and our judges were no exception. (This was Rebas top pick.) This lightweight toy is perfect for us human couch potatoes, too – just point the beam of light to a spot on the floor or wall and sit back and watch your cat chase the colored dot.
The product comes complete with two AAA batteries (already installed) as well as an extra set for future use. Word of caution: Be careful not to shine the beam directly into your cats eyes. This product retails for $12.99 and is available at PETsMART and Petco. For more information, contact the manufacturer: Principal Pet Products Company, www.critterbug.com/.
Jolly Moggy Feather Boa – A fun and inexpensive teaser toy, the Feather Boa is a top choice among discriminating feline athletes. Attached to the sturdy fabric-covered wand is a colorful feather that is sure to tickle and entertain even the fussiest and most demanding of cats.
This product retails for $3.99 and is available at PETsMART and Petco. For more information, contact the manufacturer: Rosewood Pet Products, www.rosewoodpet.com/.
Boogie Mat, a Dee-Lux Refillable Catnip Mat – The Boogie Mat is sure to get your felines toes a-tappin and tails a-snappin. Tucked inside the brightly colored mat is an organic catnip pack for added fun. Without a doubt, the Boogie Mat was Freds favorite toy, although he wasnt zooming around the room as the literature promised. He chose to sit on the mat, then lie on it, then sit on it … well, you get the picture. This product retails for $9.99 and is available at PETsMART and Petco. For more information, contact the manufacturer: Fat Cat, Inc., (802) 655-1300, www.fatcatinc.com/.
Kooky Kat Valerian Pompoms – Cats go crazy (in a good way) for valerian, an herb similar to catnip. These large shag-yarn pompoms are scented with organic valerian and are perfect for tossing and batting. The toy comes in assorted colors, two colors per pompom. (This was Ashleys top pick.)
This product retails for $4.00 plus shipping and handling. Available directly from: Plain Brown Tabby Toys and Treats, 877-886-3917, www.catniptoys.com/.
Kitten Mitten – The perfect toy to protect a humans delicate skin from sharp kitty claws, the Kitten Mitten includes pompoms at the end of each finger. Each enticing pompom contains a bell and catnip to stimulate your cats senses. Comes in assorted animal prints.
This product retails for $7.99 and is available at PETsMART and Petco. For more information, contact the manufacturer: Happy Dog Toys, Phoenix, AZ, a division of Farnam Companies, Inc., 877-HAPPYDOG, www.happydogtoys.com/.
Catnip Cat Dancer – While Cat Dancer has been on the market for some time, the manufacturer has just introduced a new and improved version that includes 100 percent catnip oil inside the plastic mouse. This toy is simple in its design: a 30-inch piece of flexible piano wire holds tightly rolled paper on one end and a plastic mouse filled with catnip on the other end (which stays fresh until you open the mouse). Once open, the scent lasts for up to four months.
This product retails for $4.99 and is available at PETsMART and Petco. For more information, contact the manufacturer: Cat Dancer Products, Inc., www.catdancer.com/.
After the Fun
Cozy Calming Mat – After all the excitement of lunging at laser lights and cavorting with catnip, your cat can snuggle up with a Cozy Calming Mat. This colorful mat features a buckwheat packet inside that can be warmed in the microwave. The outer cover is machine washable; chewy streamers on all four corners offer added interest.
This product retails for $7.99 and is available at PETsMART and Petco. For more information, contact the manufacturer: Petstages, Inc., www.petstages.com/.
Additional Choices: The Tried and True
These old favorites are guaranteed to add some zest to your cats day:
Peacock feathers – Bring out the tiger in your cat with genuine peacock feathers. Product retails for $11.95 for a package of twelve; some stores may sell feathers individually. Feathers are roughly between 32 and 45 in length. Available at PETsMART, Petco, your local pet store, or from Cat Claws, Inc., 800-783-0977, www.catclaws.com/.
Cat grass – A healthy snack for your greenery-loving cats to munch on. Purchase seeds and grow your own or pick up a container of full-grown grass. Available at most pet stores, health food stores and feed stores. Pricing varies.
Scratching posts – A must-have item in any cat household. Scratching posts may be as simple or as elaborate as your imagination and budget allow. Many scratching posts feature a handle to hang conveniently over a doorknob. Other carpeted posts offer intriguing condos where your cat can scratch, play and nap. Widely available at pet stores, online retailers, and pet catalogs. Pricing varies.