Cats are notorious at turning their noses up at expensive gifts, like beds and toys. Most felines prefer a box to its contents, to the frustration of their pet parents. The best cat toys are believable and mentally stimulating to your pet; preferences vary from cat to cat. Learn which type of cat toy your pet prefers and find the right one for your cat’s personality.
If your pet shows a strong interest in birds, he may be this kind of kitty. Studies have shown that cats are natural-born killers; no matter how closely they snuggle up at night, remember that cats also kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion small mammals yearly. Cats who are Birders love feathers and flying things, often leaping into the air to give chase.
Try a flirt pole for hours of play hunting that will keep your cat entertained. For solo play, try a feather toy that hooks around a doorknob or over a door. If the sound of birds chirping drives your cat wild, try interactive cat toys that mimic real birdcalls. Make sure your cat doesn’t ingest any feathers – a few pieces of fluff are fine – and avoid feathers made of plastic or with a hard quill.
Cats who love to bring home the bacon – or bird, mouse, rat or rabbit – have especially strong hunting instincts. These pets may also be escape artists who sneak outside to make their kills. Outdoor cats have an average lifespan of just two to five years. Indoor cats, on the other hand, frequently live up to 20 years old. Although your cat may beg and plead to be let out, the risk of illness and injury is too strong to risk Fluffy’s wanderlust. Never let your pet catch or kill wild mammals and birds, who are often carriers of parasites and disease.
Some pets prefer a good ol’ fashioned fuzzy mouse to toss around for mock hunts. Very convincing bird toys are also available, if your cat is a Birder/Predator hybrid. Interactive cat toys allow your pet to safely tap into their natural instincts with technology. A laser can be motion-activated for solo play or handheld, or puzzle cat toys like “Whack-a-Mouse” provide endless entertainment.
Pet parents who a dozen jingly balls underfoot know this type of feline all too well. The Batter prefers to play with balls or other objects she can swat, toss and catch. “Rabbit kicking” the back legs is another characteristic behavior and great exercise for cats. For the pet parent on a budget, Batters love homemade cat toys – anything from crumpled paper to bouncy balls will do.
Any kind of ball, from wool to jingle bell or catnip, may be suitable, but each cat has his or her own preference. Batters may also enjoy stuffed animals they can get their paws around and kick or cat toys with a ball and track.
If your cat is too smart for traditional toys, this is definitely the right category. Some felines aren’t fooled by fake feathers or jingle bells and require additional mental stimulation. Every cat could use a little extra brain exercise though, so consider investing in a cat puzzle toy even if you’ve got a Birder or Predator on your hands. Brainiacs may engage in play for a little while but roll over bored, or they may just give you a disdainful look when you try to play.
Scents and sounds are very mentally stimulating for cats. Consider putting a birdhouse or squirrel/chipmunk feeder in front of Fluffy’s favorite window – what’s better than the real thing? – or plant an indoor cat garden with pet-safe herbs like catnip, lemongrass and mint. Cats love rubbing their faces on interesting textures, like tree bark and plant leaves, so be sure any indoor house plants are not toxic to pets. Motion-activated cat toys and those with interactive features like lights or lasers can also be beneficial for Brainiacs.
(Featured image via Flickr.com/hellie55)