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We have yet to learn the golden secret to keeping—and holding—a cat’s attention, but a quality cat toy is a good place to start. The options, however, from catnip scatter toys to complex electronics, are simply overwhelming.
Through our hands-on, in-house testing at the Rover studio and at home with our own cats, we’ve rounded up some of the most popular cat toys available online for 2020, including rod and feather toys, interactive electronic gadgets, and more, to help make your decision process a little easier.
Check out our video review below featuring Pickles and JoJo, our oh-so-obliging test kitties. Then, read on for details about each featured item, along with other toy recommendations, toys not worth your time or money, and related articles we think you’ll find helpful.
The Best Cat Toys for Playful Cats and Kittens
You’ll see Amber in the video above mesmerizing JoJo and Pickles with the bird-like motion of the cluster of feathers at the end of this made in the USA cat toy. Few cats can resist the allure of a rod-and-feather toy in motion, and the life-like movements of these feathers as they soar and zip gracefully through the air proved too hard for our test subjects to ignore.Find on Amazon
For the classic laser cat toy, you can’t go wrong with this simple, affordable option that offers two modes: laser (for play), and a convenient flashlight. It runs on three LR44 button batteries, and easily clips to your keychain so you won’t lose it.
As with dogs, you’ll want to use laser toys in moderation to avoid unwanted (and unhealthy) behaviors from developing in your cat.Shop on Chewy
We weren’t sure how these cat dice would play out with our real life test kitties, but man, did they enjoy them!
A set of three, buoyant and bouncy polyester “dice” is a part of this simple cat toy, developed by cat whisperer and self-called “cat daddy” Jackson Galaxy (who co-authored the book Total Cat Mojo with Rover‘s very own Cat Behavior Expert, Mikel Delgado).Shop on Chewy
This electronic toy is like fishing, but for cats. A plastic wand affixed with a cluster of feathers rotates erratically at the center of the toy, and you can adjust the speed up and down via a “tuning” knob. It runs on three AAA batteries, and automatically turns off after two hours of play.
You’ll want to supervise play so that your curious (or aggressively playful) kitty doesn’t swallow any part of the toy. If the wand becomes damaged, replacements are available.Shop on Chewy
While this toy is one of the louder toys we tested during the video shoot, the realistic fluttering sound of the whizzing butterfly is a big part of what will make it so attractive to your cat.
For cat electronics, it’s easy to assemble—just pop in a AAA battery, unfold the pedestal flippers, and turn it on—plus it’s very reasonably priced and doesn’t have much of a footprint, if space and storage is an issue in your home. A lot of toy in a small package.Shop on Chewy
Classic ball-in-track games such as this Kong style are great for cats who are good at playing by themselves and enjoy a good puzzle. Inquisitive kitties will find stimulation batting two inset balls that each contain a jingle bell.
If your cat is good at extracting balls from these kinds of games (such as Ramona, seen here in action), these kind of toys are good with direct supervision, so you can retrieve the ball and keep the game going.Shop on Chewy
Video Staging Toys
The toys keeping the kittens busy in between takes.
This large and unwieldy cat tunnel is an example of a common, yet uncomfortable, irony when it comes to cat toys; often the best, most loved, most used toys are the bulkiest, ugliest, or strangest.
On the one hand, this tunnel is easy to assemble (just pop a few bungee cords and velcro straps and it expands itself), it’s collapsible and portable, and offers a variety of uses, from infinity chase tube to cozy cat bed.
On the other hand, well, just look at this thing. It takes up a lot of space and is rather bulky (also, for some reason, it has cat ears—and the pink style has what appear to be a set of pig tails?). But, if you have a giant cat play room or large, all-weather catio, it’s a toy that could seriously jazz up the playtime.We're Just Going to Leave This Here (Find on Amazon)
If a standard cat tube is more your speed and you don’t mind loud colors, it’s hard to go wrong with this tunnel 2-pack, coming in at a very reasonable price over on Chewy. Both tunnels provide a stimulating crinkle noise and a tantalizing suspended ball, but the longer one has a “peep” hole that cats like to pop in and out of.Shop Crinkle Tunnels on Chewy
You May Also Like: Kong PlaySpaces Burrow Toy. While Ramona (the subject of this post) can barely fit into it and while she generally prefers interactive games, she does like to hide behind this one-way tunnel toy and use it for ambush staging, occasionally popping inside. It’s soft, has a more realistic “log” look, and comes with a small plush critter attached to a short elastic band that’s fun to drop inside the hole and watch her go after it.
As this cat play mat made its way through the office to the studio, many remarked how much it resembles an activity mat for actual human babies. Well, if your cat is your baby, then this lightweight, fabric-covered play mat might be just what you need.
This product likely won’t stand up to rough play from the likes of mega chonks, but for smaller cats and kittens, its suspended balls and shiny objects will keep them batting for hours.Available on Amazon
Cat Toys We Don’t Recommend
We tested a large group of cat toys to come up with this list of recommendations. Below are a few I tested on my cats Ramona and Matilda I don’t think are worth your time or money.
I’ll never understand how the Tiger Tough Playground, a literal pile of cheap particle board and flimsy polyester, has decent ratings on Chewy. This “assembly required” cat condo is an Ikea-averse shopper’s worst nightmare. Bags of nuts and bolts, confusing illustrated instructions, supremely cheap materials. Who actually likes spending valuable time putting together an item so obviously cheaply made, that clearly won’t stand up over time, or for its intended purpose (use by cats)?
Had I put it together (I didn’t), it would only be a matter of time before Ramona carved into the particle board (getting chemical-laced sawdust everywhere) and filleted the chintzy fleece into ribbons. This product is destined for the landfill, and unfortunately, not that long after coming home with you.
You’re better off going to your local pet food store and buying a traditional, carpeted, real-wood cat tree. They’re not always the most fashionable in home/cat decor, but they’re built to last and from durable materials, with respect to the environment, too. Oh, and some of the ones at my pet store are cheaper than products like this, too.This Literal Pile Is Available on Chewy
May We Suggest: The Petmaker Adult Cat and Kitten Tree. The antidote to cat condo despair is hope, and you’ll find that in this easy to put together, sturdy, all-around more attractive, and more affordable cat tree. It has fewer bells and whistles than the Tiger Tough, but it blows the Tiger Tough out of the water in the time and money you’ll save. Both Ramona and Matilda (the gray tabby featured in this article) continue to enjoy it, batting the balls, scratching the sisal columns, and launching themselves on and off its carpeted top.
I had much higher hopes for this toy, a kind of Whack-A-Mole for cats that randomly spits out a brightly colored feather pom at different exits, theoretically driving your cat wild.
Unfortunately, as the inner carousel rotates the feather, it makes a loud robotic whir that Ramona (and I) found distracting and annoying. The sound made Ramona frustrated, but she still wanted to catch the feather; she would then pounce furiously on the unit, which resulted in her usually flipping it over, the toy then making an even louder, rattling “thwap” as it settled on the floor, which ultimately scared her away.
I put the game into play a few more times, and she repeated this maddening ritual, even retrieving the feather a handful of times, but ultimately she lost interest the more time wore on.
In the end, I (cowardly) passed this toy on to a cat-loving friend to (selfishly) end the cycle of frustration and indifference that had overtaken Ramona’s playtime.Find This Annoying Toy on Chewy
Is your hyperactive cat still climbing up the walls? Continue your toy research with one of the articles below.