Head (Not Cat) Scratching! 10 Cat Puzzle Toys for Enrichment

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Enrichment is a huge part of indoor cat care, and having a puzzle toy for your cat to play with is one of the easiest and most fun things to offer a feline. Puzzle toys range in price and size and are designed with different types of activities in mind. All are intended to alleviate boredom and provide mental stimulation, and some are made to encourage physical activity, while others dispense food slowly to prevent overeating. Cat puzzle toys range in difficulty levels from easy to advanced, and are safe for use among cats of all ages, including kittens.

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What to Consider When Purchasing Cat Puzzle Toys

Needs:​ Puzzle toys are intended to enrich a cat's life by engaging them in activities they may not ordinarily get inside of the home. Cats who seek enrichment through chasing, pouncing, and stalking might do best with a puzzle toys that involves batting balls around or jumping at spring toys. Cats who need a little help slowing down at mealtimes may do best with a toy that acts as a slow feeder, requiring them to move puzzle pieces around to access treats and kibble.

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Difficulty level:​ Most cats will be able to crack a puzzle game eventually, but if you're just getting your indoor cat started with puzzle games, or have a young cat or kitten you'd like to keep mentally stimulated, an easy toy is your best bet for getting your cat to use one. Toys range from easy to intermediate to advanced levels to engage a curious cat's natural instincts.

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Size:​ Cat toys are sometimes built to withstand use from cats and dogs, so most will hold up to weight, scratching, and being batted around. If you have a particularly destructive cat on your hands, shopping for a larger-sized toy made from durable materials like plastic or nylon will go a long way.

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The best overall cat puzzle toy

AWOOF Cat Mat

$18.99 at Amazon

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This is perhaps one of the most simply designed puzzle toys, and some may argue that it's not really a puzzle, but it topped our list for its durability, longevity, and ability to engage cats of all cognitive function levels. This mat has two functions and can be used as a blanket or an interactive toy depending on how you flip it. The blanket side is made of cotton, catnip, and faux fur, and the toy side features seven built-in pockets that hide catnip toys, balls, and treats for your curious cat to find. This toy is lightweight, machine washable, and can be used indoors or outdoors for all-around fun.

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The best budget cat puzzle toy

Catit Senses Treat Maze Cat Toy

$10.99 at Chewy

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Finding a cat puzzle toy without spending close to $20 is absolutely possible with this option from Catit, which costs less than $11. This toy works by placing your cat's favorite treats inside the enclosed maze, then allowing them to use their paws to locate the treat and remove it through any of the three entry holes. Made from plastic, this toy is easy to clean and weighs less than half an ounce, so it's easy to move, but can be easily tipped over during rigorous play.

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The best beginner’s interactive toy

UPSKY Cat Toy Roller 3-Level Turntable

$11.99 to $13.99 at Amazon

For a young kitten or a cat who's never played with a puzzle toy before, finding an easy yet engaging item is essential for getting your cat to use it consistently. This toy is made with three tiers, each of which holds three bell-filled balls that glide easily for your cat to bat around or simply watch. This toy is for mild exercise and entertainment, and doesn't feature an option for including treats or kibble inside of it.

The best intermediate interactive toy

Cat Amazing Sliders – Interactive Treat Puzzle Cat Toy

$26.95 at Amazon

$26.95 at Chewy

For a feline with a bit more puzzle toy experience, you can look to a toy like this one, which encourages them to scratch, sniff, move pieces around, and line things up to dispense treats or toys. This toy is made of double-layered cardboard, which is coated in a plant-based gloss coat for a durable toy that can stand up to interaction. Inside of the box is smaller boxes fitted with holes for easy grabbing and for hiding your cat's favorite items. A toy like this one can help with physical and mental stimulation, as well as slow feeding.

The best advanced cat puzzle toy

TRIXIE Brain Mover Activity Strategy Game Cat Toy

$14.99 at Chewy

There are a few levels of difficulty when it comes to cat puzzles, and this one ranks among the highest as it requires patience, concentration, and intelligence to master. There are four types of games that can be played with this single toy, including moving balls, shifting sliders, and even switching levers to unlock drawers. This is a fantastic option for cats facing boredom, and is made of dishwasher-safe plastic and rubber for easy cleaning.

The best puzzle game for multiple cats

Petstages Buggin' Out Puzzle & Play Cat Toy

$19.99 at Chewy

When it comes to interactive cat toys, the more the merrier, sometimes! Multi-cat homes can benefit from having a plaything for their felines to share, like this one, which contains 14 compartments for hiding cat treats, cat food, or other fun items for your cats to find. The toy works by requiring your cat to slide the cover off a compartment in order to disclose the item hidden within it. This toy is especially safe for cats, as it's made of BPA-free plastic and contains no removable parts, which can make things easier on you as you won't need to replace items in order to keep the puzzle toy working.

The best puzzle game for exercise

Pets Know Best Pop N' Play Peek-A-Boo Cat Toy

$15.43 at Walmart

Some toys are meant to slow down a cat's eating, while others, such as this one, encourage cats to get up and move their bodies. This toy uses a "peek-a-boo" style which engages cats by sending a toy (included is a feather toy and a toy mouse,) through holes in random and sporadic increments. This toy is circular in shape to keep your cat constantly moving, and has "chirp" sound options if that's your cat's thing. One notable thing about this toy to keep in mind is that it runs on C batteries. It does have an auto shut-off function, but if replacing batteries isn't practical, then this may not be the best toy for you or your cat.

The best cat puzzle ball

PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Cat Feeder

$7.95 at Chewy

Sometimes puzzles are best kept simple, and nothing is easier than a food dispensing ball. This is a fantastic toy for encouraging physical activity and slower eating as it requires your cat to bat it around before it dispenses small bits of food at a time. Available in four colors, this toy is dishwasher-safe and made of BPA-free plastic for a play activity that's safe and easy for everyone. Each ball can hold up to 2/3 cup of dry kibble or cat treats, and is best used among adult and senior cats due to its size and weight.

The best slow feeder puzzle toy

Catit® Senses 2.0 Digger Cat Feeder

$14.99 at Chewy

Just after mental stimulation, slow feeder capability is a top reason why many cat owners look to puzzle toys. Despite its incredibly simple design, which consists of five deep cups for storing food, this toy is an effective way to slow a cat down at meal time, which has been shown to improve digestive ailments, depression, and obesity levels in cats. The cups are designed in two different shapes to adjust the difficulty level, and encourage your cat to work for their food, which is a highly enriching activity as it's natural for them to do so.

The best puzzle toy for cats and dogs

OurPets Sushi Treat Dispensing Puzzle Dog & Cat Toy

$14.95 at Chewy

For homes with dogs and cats, finding a toy that both pets can enjoy is not only an economical choice but makes playtime and snack time fun for everyone. This art puzzle works as a treat dispenser for cats and dogs by encouraging pets to slide the buttons over in order to reach what's hidden inside. Made of thermoplastic rubber and propylene, this is an incredibly durable toy that can withstand touch, and is hand-washable for easy cleaning.

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