Happy cat, happy cat-person. If you’ve experienced the “au contraire”, you know what I mean.
An indoor cat is the safest and best option, which we have explored in our article, “Should I Let My Cat Out?”, not only because of the havoc they can wreak on the bird population, but because of the tragic fates that are waiting to befall them outside the house. If you’ve ever had to put your cat down due to a disease or because they were hit by a car or train, you’ll know what I mean.
So, let’s assume that Fluffy is going to be staying in from now on. But, if we’re picturing a life with Fluffy being in all day every day, we also must imagine the reality of what that means for some of our furniture, like that new leather couch you just bought. How can we keep kitty happy? With the right kind of indoor cat toys, that’s how!
Now, there are some specific kinds of toys and options to keep kitty happy and full of life. Which means allowing her to engage in “cat-ness.” Just as a pig loves rooting in the ground, and a chicken loves to take a dust bath, a cat loves to…hunt.
Yes, that is why they are getting such a bad rap from wildlife enthusiasts! And we do agree, they can be destructive if allowed to roam and kill birds and small mammals. Let alone the things they do to the flower beds (yours and your next-door neighbours).
But hunt they will and hunt they must. Even if just for pretend. Because a cat is designed to hunt! From the padded stealthy paws and the sensitive whiskers, the sense of balance and ninja-like springing power, the retractable claws and death-dealing incisors—all parts add up to the superb hunter. Or huntress, as the case may be.
The best toys then work with the true cat-ness of your cat as a predator. Here I present my favourite types of toy. Scratching posts not included here, as they are not a toy so much as a necessity—for cat health and owner sanity, as well as furniture insurance. As a cat-lover and cat-owner, and with an eye for quality and environmental concerns, here are my recommendations:
Cat Toys Filled With Catnip
Some of the funniest videos on YouTube feature cats misbehavin’ under the influence—of catnip that is. Catnip toys abound, often in the form of fake mice stuffed with this dried herb of the mint family. One of the best ones I’ve found were small “mice” knitted with raw wool and plump with catnip. The cats went crazy for them. I had to hide them in a drawer and bring them out on special occasions. (If you find some like this, be sure they are fully DRIED before you store them, cat slobber will cause mold if stored damp! The only ones on the market I can find are hand-knit by in the mountains of Peru, maybe you can knit your own, but these are rather cute.
Cats like to climb, and what better than an indoor tree. Well, size is going to matter in your home, so unless you are a true crazy cat lady (or gent) you can make or buy a small version for the cat play area. Make sure it has “branches” for them to perch on, hang from, and give the muscles a good stretch. If it has a nice scratch-able surface, all the better.
Be sure they are safe. Check our article on cat safety, as many of the cat toys I have reviewed don’t pass the safety test. On the plus side, any kind of a rustling piece of something attached to a wire or ribbon can be a good toy. Note I don’t say attached to a string. Strings, yarn, thread, are all dangerous because cats have hard time spitting things out. Any toy with a string attached should only be used under supervision! More than one cat has died or needed expensive surgery from swallowing string or thread (including with needles attached—keep the sewing basket under lock and key!) Best overall is the Cat Dancer and the homemade option is paper tied to a ribbon!
Cat Ball Toys
They need not be balls, they just need to roll. Geodesic domes, lopsided, fuzzy squares, all work if they are safe and will roll. A tinkly bell inside a ball adds allure.
With or without catnip. In my experience, they are not all created equal, and there’s no telling what kind of plush toy will trigger the hunt/play instinct in your cat, but fuzzy ones seem to do the trick usually. The alligator meme picture at the beginning of this article is another case of “who knows why” that cat goes insane for that toy, but it does. It’s worth mentioning that a stash of catnip inside a pouch or pocket will add to the zeal with which kitty attacks, grabs and attempts to disembowel the prey with her hind legs. Therefore, you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a “designer” plush toy, if kitty is going to rip it to shreds.
All in all, I think this list of indoor cat toys to keep Fluffy occupied should do the trick