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Best automated cat toys: Perfect playthings for when you are away

Included in this guide:

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

Sadly, we can’t always be in our cats’ company which is when having a few automated cat toys to hand really comes in handy.

Of course, playing with your cat yourself is always the preferred option as it helps to create the bond between owner and feline, plus many of the best cat toys on the market are always the simplest: the teaser wand and the catnip-stuffed mouse, for instance. 

However, the good news is that in today’s modern tech toy market, many of the ways we look to excite and entice our feline friends can be auto-replicated at the push of a button. Many automated cat toys are designed to tap into your cat's natural hunting instincts by making quick, unpredictable movements that encourage your cat to stalk, crouch, and pounce in way they might have done in the wild.

Yet, while there’s more than enough choice out there, you’ll want to take a few things into consideration before purchase. If you have a senior cat with mobility issues or your feline is particularly lazy, then they might not take to your new toy the way you’d envisioned so thinking about your own budget vs a fussy feline is of definite importance. Look for a toy that comes with a timer that automatically powers on and off down to appeal to their desire to both play and rest. 

Meanwhile, if your feline does have problems with their mobility, you’ll want to avoid anything too fast-moving!  On the other hand, when it comes to younger, quicker cats, why not also consider our top picks for the best laser toys for cats for hours of fast-paced fun?

Super convenient and simple to grasp in concept, once you've picked up an automated cat toy you'll never have a bored feline home alone again. 

PetsRadar's pick of the best automated cat toys

Automated cat toys: PetSafe Dancing Dot Laser Toy product shot

(Image credit: Amazon)

Best overall automated cat toy

Specifications
Batteries: Three AAA batteries
Material: Plastic
Best for: Cats of all ages
Reasons to buy
+
A laser toy that doesn’t need human intervention
+
A timer enables it to be pre-programmed
Reasons to avoid
-
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

Specifications
Batteries: Rechargeable
Materials: Plush
Best for: All ages and stages
Reasons to buy
+
Rechargeable battery
+
Catnip pouch
+
Washable cover
Reasons to avoid
-
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

Specifications
Batteries: Three AA batteries
Materials: Plastic and artificial feather
Best for: Kittens
Reasons to buy
+
Auto shut-off feature saves battery life
+
Ultra-reactive motion sensor
Reasons to avoid
-
Limited movements
-
Noisy

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 for all ages

Specifications
Batteries: Three AA batteries
Materials: Plastic
Best for: Cats of all ages
Reasons to buy
+
Great price
+
Compact
Reasons to avoid
-
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 for mobility issues

Specifications
Batteries: Three AA batteries
Materials: Plastic and faux fur
Best for: Older cats
Reasons to buy
+
Sleek and compact
+
Bright colors to catch your cat’s attention
Reasons to avoid
-
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

Specifications
Batteries: None required
Materials: Plastic
Best for: Fully grown cats**
Reasons to buy
+
Doesn’t require batteries
+
Grabs pets’ attention in multiple ways
Reasons to avoid
-
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 for outdoor use

Specifications
Batteries: None required – charges via USB
Materials: Plastic
Best for: Fully grown cats
Reasons to buy
+
Waterproof
+
Charges via USB
Reasons to avoid
-
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

Specifications
Batteries: Rechargeable
Materials: Plastic and feathers
Best for: All ages
Reasons to buy
+
Built-in rechargeable batteries
+
Infrared pproach sensor and auto-off
+
Great for multi-cat households
Reasons to avoid
-
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

Specifications
Batteries: None required
Materials: Plastic
Best for: Kittens and young cats
Reasons to buy
+
Grabs your cat’s attention in multiple ways
+
Aids grooming
Reasons to avoid
-
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

Specifications
Batteries: 3 x AA
Materials: Plastic wand and plush toy
Best for: All ages
Reasons to buy
+
Adjustable speed and direction settings
+
Affordable
+
Engages a cats natural hunting instincts
Reasons to avoid
-
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

Specifications
Batteries: 3 x AA
Materials: Plastic
Best for : All
Reasons to buy
+
2-in-1 butterfly and ball toy
+
Easy to assemble
+
Keeps cats occupied for hours
Reasons to avoid
-
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 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.