Too tired to play? Have a ton of work that needs to get done? Well never fear because the best automated cat toys will keep your kitty company when you don’t have the time to play, giving them the mental and physical stimulation they need to thrive.
While the pet parents of a canine companion generally have plenty of the best dog toys lying around, as the owners of feline furkids we can sometimes forget that these independent little creatures need to play just as much as their doggy friends do.
Automated or interactive cat toys are the perfect way to tap into your kitty’s natural hunting instincts, allowing them to stalk, crouch, and pounce on their ‘prey’. Designed to be both enthralling and challenging, these toys provide a great mind-body workout.
While the best cat toys tend to be made with safe, durable, and high-quality materials, it always pays to do a few precautionary checks before you let your kitty play with it. Make sure there are no small parts that can easily come loose or be swallowed, and choose toys that are appropriate for your cat’s age and stage.
Young cats typically enjoy toys that are unpredictable and fast-moving, while older cats may prefer something a bit slower but still engaging. While some pet parents worry about using automated toys with lasers, rest assured that these are perfectly safe and most include a power-down function that turns the toy off after 15 minutes of play.
If there are days when you’re out and about a lot or simply don’t have time to play with your kitty as much as you’d like, the best automated cat toys can be a real lifesaver. Here are a few of our top picks stocking the shelves in 2021...
PetsRadar's pick of the best automated cat toys
Best overall automated cat toy
Batteries: Three AAA batteries | Material: Plastic | Best for: Cats of all ages
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Ferplast Tornado Circuit
Best battery-free automated cat toy
Batteries: None required | Materials: Plastic | Best for: Fully grown cats**
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.
EaMien Catnip Fish Toy
Best compact automated cat toy
Batteries: None required – charges via USB | Materials: Cotton and stuffing | Best for: Older cats
Although cat owners who also keep fish might want to bypass this particular toy, it’s proof that some of the best pet toys are the simplest – in this case, two small rechargeable fish that twitch and flap across the floor. The best bit? They’re stuffed with catnip, making them irresistible to feline friends. A word of warning – they’re also surprisingly lifelike, which means there will inevitably be a fleeting moment when you’re convinced your cat’s caught an actual fish.
Cheerble Wicked Ball
Best automated cat toy for outdoor use
Batteries: None required – charges via USB | Materials: Plastic | Best for: Fully grown cats
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
Best rechargeable automated cat toy
Batteries: Rechargeable | Materials: Plastic and feathers | Best for: All ages
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.
Pet parents are raving about this fun toy with one reviewer writing: “I've recently brought an almost 100% outdoor cat indoors, so I'm trying extra hard to keep him entertained. I tried another electronic toy, but it only went in circles, and he lost interest very quickly. This thing's randomized movements kept him entertained for a solid 40 minutes upon introduction!”
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.
Yami Windmill Cat Toy
Best automated cat toy for agile cats
Batteries: None required | Materials: Plastic | Best for: Kittens and young cats
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
Best concealed automated cat toy
Batteries: 3 x AA | Materials: Plastic wand and plush toy | Best for: All ages
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.
Cheap and cheerful, the SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Cat Toy has plenty of fans with one reviewer stating “I don’t often give five stars, but my kitty LOVES this toy. He never seems to get bored with it. Sometimes he attacks it, sometimes he sits and watches it. He has played with it pretty much daily since Christmas and waits rather impatiently every morning for me to turn it on for his morning playtime. Haven’t changed batteries yet, and he isn’t exactly gentle with it so it’s pretty sturdy.”
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.
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.
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