Exercise is crucial for your cat’s health and happiness. 25-40% of cats in the United States are overweight. Cats suffer many of the same health problems related to obesity that people do, so maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for extending your cat’s healthy years. Exercise is also critical for maintaining your cat’s happiness. Since most cats won’t walk nicely around the block with a leash on, the best way for them to get exercise indoors is to play with toys. With that in mind, here are 7 essential cat toys to keep your cat healthy and happy.
#1 – Cat scratchers
Cats have a natural instinct to scratch. It’s one of the ways they mark their territory and tell other cats to stay away. It also helps to keep their claws short but sharp. Cats kept inside still have the urge to scratch. In order to prevent them from scratching up your furniture and to encourage their natural scratching behavior, you’ll want to make sure they have access to a scratcher. While they come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and styles, we like this one that hangs from a doorknob. It’s subtle, doesn’t take up any floor space, and each purchase provides a toy for a cat in a shelter.
#2 – Ball and track toys
These toys involve a ball inside a circular track. When the cat tries to get the ball out of the toy, it spins around the track instead. Cats can keep themselves entertained watching the ball circle around as they try to swat it out. We like this triple level ball and track cat toy that can entertain multiple cats and makes it easier to interact with your cat in that you can spin multiple balls toward them.
#3 – Catnip toys
The smell of catnip releases pheromones in your cat. These feel-good brain chemicals give your cat a sense of euphoria similar to a hallucinogenic drug. In that regard, catnip toys might make your cat happier than any other toy. They come in a variety of sizes and styles, but we love these sushi catnip toys and these techie catnip toys. Each purchase also provides a toy to a cat in a shelter to help them get adopted!
#4 – Realistic mice
The best way to get a cat to play is to spur their natural desire to hunt. Mice are a natural prey for cats, so they’re a great choice for a cat toy. They come in squeaky, colorful, bouncing, and robotic varieties.
#5 – Hanging teaser toys
Some cats prefer to play with toys that are above them because it’s more similar to hunting birds. Hanging teaser toys hang on a doorknob, giving your cat a chance to play even while you’re not home. They can play with them while lying on their backs, giving even the laziest of cats a way to play!
#6 – Treat-dispensing toys
If your cat loves to eat and hates to exercise, a treat-dispensing toy can be a great way to get your cat up and moving. As they interact with the toy, it releases treats or kibble at a varying rate, keeping cats interested for a long period of time. If your cat eats primarily kibble, much of their daily food allowance can be kept in the treat-dispensing toy, forcing your cat to work for his food like he would in the wild.
#7 – Wand toys
Arguably the best toy for playing with your cat, wand toys allow you to simulate prey and stimulate your cat into chasing and hunting the toy. It’s a great way to interact and bond with your cat while giving them exercise. Plus it gives you the satisfaction of watching them have fun! This one uses a thin, flexible, pet-safe wire instead of a string to give the toy on the end even more bounce and life.
Each one purchased through our partners at Project Play™ provides a toy for a shelter cat. Shelter cats seen playing are much more likely to get adopted than cats who aren’t. You want to play with your cat anyway – so why not give a shelter cat a better chance at being adopted while you’re at it?