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Best automated cat toys: Keep your kitty amused for hours

Brown kitten with blue eyes playing with one of the best automated cat toys, a feather toy.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Automated cat toys are your best friend if you have a kitty that loves to play 24/7. While we know there's nothing better than spending time with your feline fur baby, for those days when you need to get work or household chores done, or pop out to run errands, automated toys can give you some much needed respite. 

There's a lot of choice when it comes to the best cat toys, so it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to select a new plaything for your furkid. Thankfully, we have a few pointers on selecting automated toys that will help make your life easier. 

One of the big benefits of choosing an automated toy as opposed to a standard toy is that these are designed to tap into your kitty's natural hunting instincts, with unpredictable movements that allow them to stalk, crouch, and pounce on their 'prey'. But which one you select will depend on the age and stage of your feline friend.

The first thing to consider is what your cat's energy levels are like. If you have an older cat or one who suffers from mobility issues or joint pain, you may think that a moving toy isn't the best idea. Rest assured though that senior kitties or those with health issues can still get in on all the fun and excitement, we just recommend a toy that is slower moving. 

If you have a younger or more energetic cat, the sky's the limit! So feel free to choose faster toys that move at a more unpredictable pace. Both younger and older felines can also benefit from the best laser toys for cats as these tend to have settings that allow you to select the speed at which the laser moves.

A lot of pet parents worry about laser toys because of the risk of overstimulation, but the good news is that almost all laser toys come with an auto-timer that sets playtimes sessions between 15-30 minutes before automatically powering off for around two hours. This ensures your cat has a good break in between sessions and removes the risks that can come with excessive use.

Now that you know a little more about automated cat toys, let's take a peek at some of our favorites, including battery-free options and our top pick for cats with mobility issues.

PetsRadar's pick of the best automated cat toys

  • Best overall automated cat toy: PetSafe Dancing Dot Laser Toy
  • Best budget automated cat toy: Potaroma Electric Flopping Fish 
  • Best automated cat toy for cats who are home alone: Petsafe Peek-a-Bird Electronic Cat Toy
  • Best automated cat toy for all ages: PetSafe FroliCat Cheese Automatic Cat Teaser
  • Best automated cat toy for mobility issues: PetSafe Frolicat Fox Den Toy Automatic Cat Teaser
  • Best battery-free automated cat toy: Ferplast Tornado Circuit
  • Best automated cat toy for outdoor use: Cheerble Wicked Ball
  • Best rechargeable automated cat toy: Migipaws interactive cat toy
  • Best automated cat toy for agile cats: Yami Windmill Cat Toy
  • Best concealed automated cat toy: SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Cat Toy
  • Best automated cat toy for indoor kitties: Pawzone Interactive Cat Toy

Automated cat toys: PetSafe Dancing Dot Laser Toy product shot

(Image credit: Amazon)

PetSafe Dancing Dot Laser Toy

Best overall automated cat toy

Batteries: Three AAA batteries | Material: Plastic | Best for: Cats of all ages

A laser toy that doesn’t need human intervention
A timer enables it to be pre-programmed
Not mains powered
Potential for loop to catch on items

Let’s face it, nothing beats a laser toy when it comes to keeping a cat’s attention for longer periods of time. The beauty of this standalone laser is that it can be placed on any flat surface, or hung from a doorknob – no human intervention required. The 15-minute setting is great for a short burst of laser-powered fun, while the all-day play mode is perfect if you’re leaving your cat on its own for longer periods of time – the laser will turn on for 15 minutes every two hours. It’s also perfectly safe – like most laser toys, it uses a Class 1 laser, which is the least hazardous type.

Best automated cat toys: Potaroma Electric Flopping Fish

(Image credit: Amazon)

Potaroma Electric Flopping Fish

Best budget automated cat toy

Batteries: Rechargeable | Materials: Plush | Best for: All ages and stages

Rechargeable battery
Catnip pouch
Washable cover
Can be quite noisy

If you're after a cheap and cheerful toy that's sure to delight your feline friend, then look no further than this fun flopping fish that's bound to captivate your kitty with its wiggling and realistic movements.

Featuring an automatic built-in motion sensor that kicks into action whenever your cat touches the fish and a catnip pouch that will entice them to keep playing, this is a great affordable toy to help alleviate boredom and loneliness whenever your fur baby is home alone.

We love that this fish comes with a rechargeable battery, so you don't have to worry about being caught short without replacement batteries, and the cover is washable so you'll easily be able to keep it clean. 

Automated cat toys: Petsafe Peek-a-Bird Electronic Cat Toy product shot

(Image credit: Amazon)

Petsafe Peek-a-Bird Electronic Cat Toy

Best automated cat toy for cats who are home alone

Batteries: Three AA batteries | Materials: Plastic and artificial feather | Best for: Kittens

Auto shut-off feature saves battery life
Ultra-reactive motion sensor
Limited movements

Although this toy is a pretty simple one – a brightly colored feather on the side of this duck-shaped toy moves from side to side – various added extras will certainly prevent boredom setting in. 

To start with, there are two modes. One-time-play will prompt the feather to flutter back and forth for 10 minutes, while play-all-day mode will fire up the toy for 10-minute sessions every two hours, although a handy motion sensor will always kick-start the toy when your cat’s nearby.

Automated cat toys: PetSafe FroliCat Cheese Automatic Cat Teaser

(Image credit: Amazon)

PetSafe FroliCat Cheese Automatic Cat Teaser

Best automated cat toy for all ages

Batteries: Three AA batteries | Materials: Plastic | Best for: Cats of all ages

Great price
We’d like to have seen more moving parts
The shape of the plastic mice makes them tricky to grab

Even the coolest of cats won’t be able to resist this ridiculously cute toy. The premise is simple – plastic mice pop out from holes on either side of the cheese wedge, only to (hopefully) disappear once your cat makes a lunge. 

An auto shut-off feature kicks in after 15 minutes of play to help preserve battery life, and the play-while-you-are-away mode will keep boredom at bay when you’re not around.

Automated cat toys: PetSafe Frolicat Fox Den Toy Automatic Cat Teaser product shot

(Image credit: Amazon)

PetSafe Frolicat Fox Den Toy Automatic Cat Teaser

Best automated cat toy for mobility issues

Batteries: Three AA batteries | Materials: Plastic and faux fur | Best for: Older cats

Sleek and compact
Bright colors to catch your cat’s attention
Limited range of movement
High price tag for a relatively simple toy

The low profile of this toy makes it perfect for cats whose jumping days are behind them. That said, the swishing fox tail will still give your pet a decent workout, and the two-tone design means the tail is easy to spot, too. 

It’s another toy with a mode designed especially for when you’re not at home, and the random pattern of the tail’s movement does a wonderful job of capturing and holding your pet’s attention for longer periods of time.

Automated cat toys: Ferplast Tornado Circuit product shot

(Image credit: Amazon)

Ferplast Tornado Circuit

Best battery-free automated cat toy

Batteries: None required | Materials: Plastic | Best for: Fully grown cats**

Doesn’t require batteries
Grabs pets’ attention in multiple ways
Height makes it unsuitable for kittens
High price tag

This colorful creation is a welcome reminder that the best moving pet toys don’t necessarily need batteries. 

This toy will keep your cat entertained in two ways: with a colorful flashing ball that moves around the base unit and can be tapped and batted by your cat; and with a fishing hook-style ball suspended from the central tower. It’s also wonderfully easy to assemble and surprisingly stable.

Automated cat toys: Cat playing with a Cheerble Wicked Ball

(Image credit: Amazon)

Cheerble Wicked Ball

Best automated cat toy for outdoor use

Batteries: None required – charges via USB | Materials: Plastic | Best for: Fully grown cats

Charges via USB
Size makes it tricky for kittens to play with
Could easily be snatched by dogs when used outside

The Wicked Ball is packed with features that won’t simply keep your cat entertained, but will improve their fitness, too. This hi-tech smart toy has been designed especially for cats to play with when they’re left home alone for short periods of time, but its rugged nature means it’s one of the best outdoor cat toys, too.

 It’s best described as a tennis ball-sized toy that will roll around the floor, relying on sensors to avoid hard surfaces and giving its movements an unpredictability your cat will love. It will work equally well on carpets, grass or hard flooring.

Migipaws interactive cat toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

Migipaws interactive cat toy

Best rechargeable automated cat toy

Batteries: Rechargeable | Materials: Plastic and feathers | Best for: All ages

Built-in rechargeable batteries
Infrared pproach sensor and auto-off
Great for multi-cat households
Short 5-minute program

Cat toys don’t come much more fun than this smart interactive box from Migipaws with automatic moving feathers that will unpredictable movements that will delight and entertain your kitty for hours.

The box features seven holes spread across the top and sides and contains three durable multi-colored feathers that pop out at random, stirring your cat’s hunting instincts and allowing them to pounce and play for up to five minutes at a time.

We love the infrared sensor which detects when your kitty is within 5-10 inches and switches the box on, and the built-in rechargeable battery means you’ll never be caught short. 

A great choice for single or multi-cat households, this durable cat toy will provide your furkid with all the mental and physical stimulation they need to thrive. All the materials are safe and cat-friendly and there are three replacement feathers included ensuring this cool cat box goes the distance. 

Automated cat toys: A happy cat having fun with the Yami Windmill Cat Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

Yami Windmill Cat Toy

Best automated cat toy for agile cats

Batteries: None required | Materials: Plastic | Best for: Kittens and young cats

Grabs your cat’s attention in multiple ways
Aids grooming
Small size means it’s less suitable for larger cats
Small openings in the pods make it tricky to fill them with treats

Another reminder that batteries aren’t always best, this turquoise cat toy ticks multiple boxes. To start with, it will give your cat a brilliant workout as they bat the spinning pods. Then there’s the central column, topped with soft bumps that are designed to enhance grooming regimes.

 The plastic balls can be filled with small cat treats or pieces of catnip, making it irresistible to the coolest of cats. We’re also pleasantly surprised by the strength of the suckers, which ensure that it won’t topple over during the most energetic play sessions.

SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Cat Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Cat Toy

Best concealed automated cat toy

Batteries: 3 x AA | Materials: Plastic wand and plush toy | Best for: All ages

Adjustable speed and direction settings
Engages a cats natural hunting instincts
Short battery life

Playtime just got more fun with this fascinating toy that replicates the movement of hidden prey. Satisfying your cat’s natural hunting instincts, this toy contains an erratically moving wand hidden under durable fabric with moving lights. 

With adjustable speed that lets you control the fun, choose from complete circles, half-circles, or small movements. The toy takes 3 x AA batteries and gives around an hour of life, making it ideal for brief interactive play sessions. 

If you’re looking for an affordable toy that will provide your kitty with plenty of amusement, then this product from SmartyKat is well worth a go. 

Best automated cat toys: Pawzone Interactive Cat Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

Pawzone Interactive Cat Toy

Best automated cat toy for indoor kitties

Batteries: 3 x AA | Materials: Plastic | Best for : All

2-in-1 butterfly and ball toy
Easy to assemble
Keeps cats occupied for hours
Batteries not included

There's nothing better than a toy with different components that will hold your kitty's attention for hours on end and with this rotating butterfly and ball toy from Pawzone, that's exactly what you'll get.

Designed with a unique UFO shape, this roller track toy features chase balls for your feline furkid to bat about as well as two butterfly wands that can be activated at the press of a button to create unpredictable flutters that will tap into your cat's natural pouncing instincts.

Made from durable and safe materials, this toy is strong enough to hold up to plenty of scratches and rough and tumble and it's easy to clean and transport. While the 3 x AA batteries it needs to operate aren't included, you'll likely find the hours of amusement it provides your kitty with make the extra expense well worth it.

Tamara Hinson

Tamara Hinson is a freelance writer who grew up with huskies but unfortunately now has a husband who is allergic to dogs. Luckily she has a neighbour who lets her dog-sit her Maltese terrier and a nearby greyhound rescue centre where she can walk the residents.