Skip to main content

Best cat toys: Tap into a tiny tiger's natural instincts

Best cat toys
(Image credit: Getty)

The best cat toys make for a worthwhile investment if you're looking for ways to keep your feline friend mentally and physically stimulated. From the best automated cat toys to interactive lasers and challenging puzzles, our selection of enriching cat toys has something to suit every moggy regardless of their age or mobility levels. 

Cats are natural born hunters and have a strong prey drive, so having an array of toys in your home is a great way of giving them an outlet to do the things they love to do - stalk, chase, and pounce. And it's not just your cat that will benefit from a good toy box - your clothes and furniture will too. After all, it's a well known fact that a bored cat is a mischievous cat and the last thing you want is your new couch or beloved pair of jeans being scratched to within an inch of their life.

When it comes to choosing toys for your cat, it's worth selecting from across a few different categories. For example, automated cat toys are wonderful if you're out of the house a lot as these will switch themselves on and off, meaning you don't need to be there for your kitty to get a good play session in. Likewise, the best interactive cat toys are also fantastic if your feline friend is alone during the day or you're just too busy to play as they can engage with these toys independently.

For the kitty that likes to engage their brain in activity that really challenges them, the best cat puzzle feeders offer an enriching and stimulating mental workout with plenty of tasty treats thrown in to keep your feline friend motivated. You can purchase these at different levels, so once your little Einstein has mastered the basics, you can move them up to something a little more advanced. 

To help you find the perfect plaything for your little bundle of fur and ensure your much-loved moggy stays physically and mentally fit and healthy, let's dive into our roundup of the best cat toys...

PetsRadar's pick of the best cat toys

Best Cat Toys

(Image credit: Amazon)

PAWZ Road Sisal Rope Scratching Post

Best overall cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Scratching and claw health
Average price: Medium
Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Universally loved
+
Cats will use independently
+
Saves your couch

Reasons to avoid

-
Cats can ignore scratching posts

All cats scratch. Scratching is primarily used to sharpen claws, and to shed older claws (just as we cut our nails), but it can also be a way for cats to establish territory and to simply entertain themselves. Sadly, this often means they scratch our couches, footstools, rugs and curtains, and can quickly ruin these furnishings. The way to control this is to buy a scratching post, or even a cat tree, which allows your mog to exercise their claws without taking it out on your fabrics.

We class scratching posts as toys as they are often accompanied by some kind of teaser-toy, they can be laced with catnip, and they will keep your pet entertained for months if you get the right one. You can also get scratching posts as part of cat trees, which are indoor structures that let your pet practice climbing as well as giving them a high vantage-point (which they love) and often a hidey-hole to get some privacy.

The best scratching posts really come down to budget and style, as they achieve the same purpose regardless of which one you get. Simple posts with a toy on top can be bought for around £10-20, whereas elaborate cat trees can run to £100s. They come in all shapes and sizes too, but we find the simple ‘post’ design works best, especially when paired with a simple teaser toy dangling from the top.

Petstages Cat Tracks Cat Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

Petstages Cat Tracks Cat Toy

Best budget cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Pouncing and batting
Average price: Low
Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Inexpensive
+
Mentally engaging
+
Great for multi-cat households

Reasons to avoid

-
Large cats may find this toy too small

If you're looking for a toy that will be both physically and mentally engaging, then look no further than this track toy from Petstages. Designed with 3 levels of tracks and 6 brightly colored moving balls, your kitty will love batting, swatting and pouncing on the balls as they engage their natural hunting instincts.

Made from durable plastic, this toy has a sturdy construction (meaning it won't topple over when in use) and comes with a non-slip base to hold it in place during vigorous play sessions. 

We love the unique safety bar design across the top opening which will prevent your kitty from getting stuck while playing, and because it comes with multiple tiers and balls, it's a great choice if you have more than one cat. 

Two kittens playing with the pawaboo cat tunnelPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Pawaboo Cat Tunnel Tube Collapsible Play Tent

Best kitten cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Chasing and playing
Average price: Medium
Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Spacious 3-way tunnels
+
Portable and light
+
Simple to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof
-
Not ideal for adult or larger cats

If you have a playful kitten who loves peek-a-boo or hide and seek, this tunnel toy is the perfect pick. The Pawaboo Cat Tunnel Tube is a simple, 3-way tunnel that will provide a maze of fun for your kitties. With a peep hole at the top to poke their heads out, it also comes with hanging ball bell toys in the middle to keep them entertained. 

It has a diameter of 25cm x 35cm so has sufficient space for kittens to move and turn around in, the downside is it might be a tight squeeze for tubby or adult cats. Overall, it is strong and durable and your kitten will be able to spend hours playing, hiding, scratching or even taking a cat nap in it! The material also makes a slight rustling noise when moving around in which adds to the sensory experience.

Designed to be light and portable, the tubes easily pop into place. In addition,  they are collapsible and fold back securely after use, making it simple to pack up, carry around the home and store away.

More suitable for kittens and small pets, this Pawaboo Cat Tunnel Tube is ideal for keeping them occupied and active. The best thing is, it’s simple, hassle-free and doesn’t even need batteries!

YVE LIFE Cat Laser Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

YVE LIFE Cat Laser Toy

Best laser cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Chasing, stalking and pouncing
Average price: Medium
Kitten-friendly: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Motion activated
+
Auto turn off
+
Adjustable circling range

Reasons to avoid

-
Short power cord

Fun for the entire feline family, the YVE LIFE cat laser toy is one that's well worth having in the kitty playbox, regardless of whether you have one cat or three. Motion-activated, the device can sense your cat up to 160 inches away, so when the smart sensor detects your cat, the toy will automatically turn itself on for a 15 minute play session.

If you're worried about your feline friend becoming over stimulated, don't be. This clever device will only operate once per hour, so if your kitty keeps coming past after their 15 minute play time is up, they'll be out of luck until a full 60 minutes has passed. The laser toy has an auto shut off feature too, so you don't need to worry about the battery going flat in the middle of the day when you're out and about.

We love the adjustable circling range on this toy and it has two speeds for different ages and exercise needs. It comes with a USB rechargeable battery that can be juiced up and ready to go in 2.5 hours and it offers three days of play before you need to charge it again. The dual motor delivers a quiet rotation too, so you don't have to worry about being disturbed while you're working or trying to sleep.

Best cat toys: ORSDA Electronic Cat ToyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

ORSDA Electronic Cat Toy

Best home-alone cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Pounce, bat and grab
Average price: Medium
Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Attention grabbing
+
Two modes of play
+
Programmable

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly noisy
-
Feather can get stuck inside

With feathers to hunt, balls to bat and flashing lights to attract attention, this three-in-one electronic toy from Orsda is guaranteed to get even the most disinterested moggie up and playing. It's programmable too, so you can set it to come on at set intervals, to ensure your kitty is getting much needed distraction when you aren't there to play with them.

Featuring a ball on a circular track your moggy will spend ages trying to catch and an unpredictable feather playing peekaboo from various apertures, this is one cat toy that's hard to ignore. It does make a noise when in operation, but users have said this acts as a great signal for their cats to come running ready to catch that bothersome feather. And with various modes to choose from, including a random one, variety is guaranteed to keep them interested, and ready to exercise those hunting instincts.

Because of its constant movement in and out the feather lasts longer than on other cat toys, and it comes with replacement feathers to ensure if it is destroyed by your crafty cat, they are easily replaced. One slight issue is that some owners have reported that the feather can get stuck inside – although it's simple enough to fix just by dislodging it with a pencil.

You can set it so the toy comes to life every four hours, perfect for stimulating a cat left on its own during the day. And even when it's off, the ball on the track still works, so it can provide amusement even when unpowered. With users saying that even cats that are usually uninterested by toys are drawn to this one, this is a great toy to keep your moggie amused and stimulated while you are out and about.

Smart Cat Peek-A-Prize Toy Box product shotPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Getty)

Smart Cat Peek-A-Prize Toy Box

Best curious cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Paw fishing and hunting
Average price: Medium
Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to carry around
+
You can put either small toys or cat treats inside
+
Contains two toys

Reasons to avoid

-
Balls can be too easy for cats to get out

Curious cats have an instinctual desire to hunt. That’s why they love to watch cracks and crevices, especially when they know something is hiding inside! The Smart Cat Peek-A-Prize Toy Box comes with two toys inside, and designed to develop and encourage your cat’s natural, predatory instincts. Simply hide some of their toys inside the box and your cat will have fun fishing them out. Not only will this stimulate them physically but provide mental stimulation in working out how to get to the objects.

You can swap around the toys in the box for more exciting variety, but only smaller toys would work. If you wanted to treat your feline pals, you could always swap the toys for treats, which will be a delicious incentive.   

The Smart Cat Peek-A-Prize Toy Box is ideal for when busy owners have to leave the room for a while or need to pop out. The plus side is, it’s easy to use, simple and doesn’t require batteries! It is rather expensive though, but it’s designed to be sturdy and last long. Besides, once your kitty is digging around, this will keep her occupied and amused for hours.

Best Cat Toys

(Image credit: Amazon)

Vealind GiGwi Automatic Moving Mouse Cat Toy

Best chasing cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Chasing and stalking
Average price: Low
Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap toys
+
Fun to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Won’t entertain for as long
-
Some cats will ignore them

If your cat loves to chase toys, a mechanical or motorized mouse is a great pick. They’re cheap, often coming in packs of two or three, and they’re simple toys to operate. 

While the mechanical mice, with winders, will provide limited amounts of play time, the battery-powered mice could provide decent sessions if your cat decides to stalk and chase it. 

These toys are usually the size of an average mouse, so they’re perfect for smaller cats. Larger cats may not be challenged by them, and will want to stalk something a little juicier, but they’re ideal for kittens learning to hunt. They’re inexpensive too, so if you just want to try one out it won’t cost much. Spending a bit more will get you a mouse that squeaks too, which adds extra temptation for your kitty.

The build quality isn’t always the best with motorized mice, but the low cost makes this less of an issue. If you do go for a fully motorized mouse, make sure you go for a rechargeable battery. Obviously, the mechanical ones don’t need any power, so they’re super cheap.

Youngever cat toy starter packPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Youngever)

Youngever 24 Cat Toys and Assortments

Best starter pack cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Chasing and playing
Average price: Low
Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
A wonderful range of toys
+
Comes with a tunnel too
+
Good value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
Can't leave many unsupervised

If you look at the other options here and are totally spoiled for choice, then consider taking the plunge with this amazing value-for-money set that not only gives you a wide selection of toys but also throws in a two-way tunnel for good measure. It'll be like Christmas has come at once for your kitty, with the chance of disappointment being very low. There's bound to be a good selection of toys here that your cat will love!

The collapsible tunnel is perhaps the star attraction to some degree. Users report it being a firm favorite among their furkids and it's large enough to provide fun for both cats and kittens. But then you get the heap of staple toys that will surely provide hours of enjoyment, from a cat teaser wand with a fluffy snake on the end (ideal when you're playing and bonding with your cat) to feathered items, crinkle balls and springs. 

Colorfully designed, they will both mentally and physically stimulate your cat but you will have to be careful about which ones you leave out when you're not around. The manufacturer advises that you supervise kitties when they're playing because they may eat some of the small parts – one user had an issue with the red foam balls being easily torn apart.

Amazon Basics Pet Activity Center and FeederPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon Basics)

Amazon Basics Pet Activity Center and Feeder

Best food-related cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Hunting
Average price: Low
Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Uses food to encourage use 
+
Comes with a host of puzzles
+
Durable design for lastability  

Reasons to avoid

-
Some puzzles may be too easy 

Packed with compartments in which you can hide tasty treats, this low-cost pet activity center is designed to stimulate your cat's mind. By forcing kitties to figure ways of gaining access to any kibble or treats you've dotted around the toy, it helps to relieve boredom. It also taps into a cat's innate desire to hunt and stimulates a sense of curiosity.

By including food-based puzzles, there is an added benefit: it will slow down the rate at which your cat eats. This is useful if you have a kitty that likes to gobble their food too fast, something that can lead to indigestion problems. It also makes feeding feel more rewarding. Cats will have to perform different actions to get at their food and it'll be enjoyable watching your cat seeking solutions.

In the process, you may even be amazed at how intelligent your cat is, although don't worry about the puzzles being too hard. The activity centre has been designed to be as attractive and rewarding for kittens as it is for cats so nobody is going to go hungry here. Neither are you going to have to frequently replace this toy. It's made of hard-wearing polypropylene and you can keep it clean by simply wiping with a damp cloth.

Catit Super Roller CircuitPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Catit Super Roller Circuit

Best mental exercise cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Chasing
Average price: Low
Kitten friendly?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Attractive, robust design
+
Ongoing fast play
+
Can be expanded

Reasons to avoid

-
Batteries not included

One of the problems with giving a cat a ball to play with is that, with an ill-timed swipe, it's so easily lost. By ensuring a ball is sent along a structured path, a cat can repeatedly enjoy all the thrill of a chase. You won't be on your hands and knees trying to rescue a ball from beneath the sofa with this toy, that's for sure.

Made from plastic and colored blue, the Super Roller Circuit certainly looks fun. Simply fix the eight pieces together to create a ring and the ball will zip along inside the tube. As the ball whizzes past openings, cats should attempt to put their paw on it. They won't be able to flick it out of the tube so, when they release their grip, the ball will continue on its journey, continuing the enjoyment.

As a bonus, the ball can be illuminated. This makes it more noticeable, encouraging cats to play day and night. Of course, this means you will need to power the toy in some way: in this case, it's batteries-only (and you don't get any in the box) but that at least makes the toy portable.

It's also a versatile kit, suitable for cats of all ages. Nothing stops you adding extra balls or even buying a second set and making a larger ring. Some owners have done just that, making for some impressive set-ups.

Indoor Interactive Swimming FishPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Indoor Interactive Swimming Fish

Best water-based cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Hunting
Average price: Low
Kitten friendly: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
The fish light up to catch attention
+
Their fins move as they swim
+
Come as a pack of four

Reasons to avoid

-
Will need to regularly replace batteries

Keeping cats and fish in the same home is generally a bad idea. After watching them for a while you may find your feline friend suddenly decides to stick a paw into the tank to grab themselves an early dinner. Either that or they end up plunging into the water and end up a soggy mess.

There's much less danger with this toy – a collection of four colorful robot fish that are designed to be placed into a bowl. They allow your kitties to watch as the fish swim around, their fins moving back and forth. This encourages cats to interact and the idea is that the toy taps into your cat's instinct to hunt which will stimulate their mind while also allowing them to exercise. It also helps cats to overcome any fear of water.

In order to attract their attention, the fish have built-in LEDs which flash as the tiny fake-swimmers move around in the water. Each one is powered by two batteries but you also get an extra set of eight which is a nice touch (there's a battery installation tool too). What's more, the fish have been designed to save power: they'll start swimming when they're introduced to water but stop when they are taken out.

The main downside is that the batteries will drain rather quickly. Used continuously, you're unlikely to get more than 30 minutes of power which is perhaps why the manufacturer recommends limiting playtime to 10 minutes at a time. You'd have to factor in the cost of replacement LR44 batteries before deciding to make a purchase.

Moody Pet Fling-AMA-String Cat ToyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Moody Pet)

Moody Pet Fling-AMA-String Cat Toy

Best string-based cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Catching
Average price: Medium
Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Great spin on a traditional idea
+
No assembly required
+
Maker offers free replacement parts

Reasons to avoid

-
Batteries not included

It's always worth having a ball of string handy for an impromptu play session with your kitty but this toy goes that little bit further. It provides all of the thrill of catching a piece of moving string but without any involvement on your part. 

Just attach it to a door handle, pop in three AA batteries (sadly not included) and the string will wiggle around while moving in and out of the casing. It's simply like pulling a piece of string away from a cat and watching them pounce and chew.

The toy works by attaching the string to a moving elastic conveyor belt but there's no assembly required and the string is sewn for you. There are also two speeds which not only provides an additional challenge but ensures the toy doesn't become too predictable. Just be sure to keep an eye on cats while they play with the toy.

It may be an idea to use rechargeable batteries, too, because some pet owners say they drain fast. But it's good to see that the manufacturer provides free replacement parts for the life of the toy ensuring it's not going to end up being junked within a short period.

catnip toysPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Yeowww Catnip Banana

Best catnip toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Chasing
Average price: Low
Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
100% premium catnip filling
+
Big enough to grip and kick
+
Robust fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t look like prey

Bright and brash, you won't miss the Yeowww Catnip Banana flying across the room but there's much more to this perfect plaything that its standout looks. Yeowww is a big name when it comes to catnip toys and this brilliant banana is crammed full of premium quality, organic catnip that's grown without pesticides. 

Much bigger than the average catnip toy, there's plenty here for mini tigers to get their paws around so don't be surprised to see your feline holding one end and bunny kicking the other, all in the name of exercising those natural hunting skills. 

You'll find that the banana is made from heavy duty cotton twill, so it should be tough enough to withstand some pretty rough play, although a few testers have reported the toy being ripped open at the seams. As with any catnip toy, damage is possible if a cat gets a little too enthusiastic so it’s always best to supervise their playtime. 

Most cats will be enticed by the bright design, but it doesn't necessarily mimic prey -there's no mice designs here - although you can pick up a fish if that's important to you and your feline. 

Yeowww also use the same 100% catnip fillings in other toys including a rainbow and a heart if you want to go cutesy with their playthings.  

Best cat toysPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

KONG Connects Benderz Teaser Dragonfly Cat Toy

Best teaser cat toy

Specifications

Primary exercise: Chase
Average price: Low
Kitten-friendly: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Has a versatile stick
+
Contain catnip
+
Bright fun colors

Reasons to avoid

-
Toy may easily detach from the stick

This looks like a very simple toy. You essentially get a cute dragonfly on the end of the bendy stick but don't be fooled – it's a little more versatile than you may imagine. 

Although it's not the most sophisticated toy around, it's ability to attach to almost any surface makes it appealing. Cats can soon get bored if they see the same toy in the same location day after day so having something you can move around and place low or high will make all the difference. 

It's possible to loop this toy around a bannister or a chair, for instance. You could also hang it from a door handle. If choosing multiple locations doesn't keep your cat curious then the next feature surely will. This toy is also filled with catnip which is bound to attract attention.

In some cases, a cat may become too excited and some users have said their kitties managed to detach the dragonfly from the stick. It's easy to put back on but you may want to supervise play at first, just to see how enthusiastically they take to it.

How to choose the best cat toys

When choosing a cat toy you really need to try different things to see what your cat likes. The good thing is that most cat toys are inexpensive, so you don’t lose much if your pet takes little or no interest. If they don’t play with a toy, don’t take this as a sign that your cat isn’t playful – just keep trying different options.

We also fully suggest you persist with cat toys several times after buying them. Some don’t have instant appeal, and many cats are nervous about changes to their environment, so something like a new scratching post may intimidate them to start with. We’ve known cats ignore toys, trees, and beds for months before suddenly loving them. 

If your cat stays indoors, play is an essential part of their day, so most vets recommend a minimum of 15-30 minutes of play per day. This is for exercise and bonding, so it’s very important. Try to choose toys that will give your cat a work-out and require personal input from you, so you’re more involved in your cat’s play.