A cat's schedule can vary. Some days are spent sitting in an Amazon box, some days they work a 7-hour shift at the window on "bird duty." A non-cat owner might think, "with that kind of schedule, when would they have time for toys?" And a seasoned cat parent would be quick to answer "when they're not shredding the arm of the couch."
Despite their chill reputation, cats need mental and physical stimulation to ward off boredom, stress and separation anxiety. Different cats will take a liking to different toys, but there are some tried-and-true staples that every cat owner should have on hand.
One of the first things to consider when finding the perfect toy for your cat is that they care less about aesthetics than you. While a felt computer mouse might be hilarious, your cat probably won't get the joke.
After you surrender choosing a toy based off its pun value, the next things to consider is your cat's size, cognitive health, dental health, and safety. You want to make sure the toy isn't too big or small, mentally frustrating, harmful to their teeth, or outright dangerous.
Treat dispenser toys
A treat dispensing toy accomplishes two things at once: it gives your kitty a workout, and utilizes their problem-solving skills. Your cat will have to push, roll, or rock this kind of toy to get the treats inside. This can also be a good solution if your cat over-or under-eats. It can either feed him in smaller portions, or incentivize him to eat a bit more.
A wand toy sounds fancier than it is: it's a stick with a ribbon tied to it. You wave the stick around to make it look like prey and your cat catches it. Easy enough. What's nice about this toy for you is that it keeps your hand a safe distance from your cat's claws and teeth. There's no shortage of variations of the wand toy, and they're almost always affordable. If your cat gets bored with your current wand, you can switch it out with one that has bells, feathers, or another fun thing on it.
Catnip is a perennial herb from the mint family, and it's aptly named because most cats adore it! Catnip can be stuffed into toys or packed into balls, making your kitty love her toy that much more. It's safe for your cat to ingest catnip. However, it's true that cats can become overly excited around it. Just be careful about petting your cat when the toy is out, they could excitedly bite you.
Ball toys aren't just for dogs, cats love them too! The ball's movement along the floor or in a game mimics the movement of prey, which will entice cats to chase and catch. There are lots of ball toys on the market that are suitable for one or many cats. If you are a multi-cat family, an interactive ball game is often so engaging it's the only toy you have to bring out. It's sort of a cat family board game, if you will.
The Cat Dancer
The Cat Dancer is incredibly simple and cheap, and it's a perennial favorite with cats. It's simply a length of steel wire with cardboard bits on the end. In our experience, cats go absolutely nuts for it, possibly because the wire's erratic movements mimic those of a bug, which appeals to cats' hunting instincts.
These are some of our cats' favorite toys, but you'll have to experiment to see which toy your cat likes best. If your cat is happy, everyone's happy...especially the arm of your couch.