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Best cat toys: Upgrade your feline's playtimes with this great selection of toys

Best cat toys: A cat playing with a mouse toy
(Image credit: Getty)

Many experts emphasise the importance of cat play, so having a selection of the best cat toys to call upon when needed is essential. Cat toys come in all shapes and sizes, from interactive toys to automated toys to laser toys, and while most are relatively inexpensive, it’s possible to spend $100s and fill your home with premium cat gifts. While some pussy cats are fortunate enough to get things like cat trees, and whole rooms dedicated to their play, we find that pets are just as happy with a simple teaser wand or a plain scratching post (or, often, the box these items arrive in).

When we talk about the best cat toys, this largely depends on your own cat’s personal preference. For example, we’ve known some cats who love the flipping fish, and others that are terrified of it. However, items like laser pointers and teaser wands work more often than not, and they’re very cheap, so if your cat doesn’t like something - or they’re not in the mood for it - you can afford to buy several items to rotate and keep the play fresh.

If you’re shopping for cat toys for younger cats, who are still learning to play, they tend to appreciate dangling items like teasers. Having a spare teaser or two is perfect for when your young cat bites or scratches at a hand or foot, and you want to give them something else to play with instead. Older cats do tend to prefer toys that require independent play, but many will still enjoy chasing around like they’re kittens. All cats love to scratch, though, so anything with a rough surface they can catch and kick at will always be a winner.

PetsRadar's pick of the best cat toys

Best Cat Toys

(Image credit: Amazon)

PAWZ Road Sisal Rope Scratching Post

Best cat toy overall

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

Universally loved
Cats will use independently
Saves your couch
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.

Best Cat Toys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

DIWUJI LED Pointer

Best cat toy for play

Primary exercise: Pouncing and jumping | Average price: Cheap | Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Relatively cheap
Good bonding experience
Lasts months
Lots of poorly-made versions
Batteries get expensive

Cats love a laser pointer. There’s something about a red dot flickering around a floor or wall that drives most mogs crazy. We’ve yet to find a cat that didn’t respond in some way, but we have tested a whole bunch of poorly-made laser pointers that broke after a handful of uses. This is perhaps the biggest drawback of the laser pen – finding a reputable one, among a sea of cheaply-made products, is tough.

After testing a handful from several leading retailers, we discovered the best laser pointer via Amazon. When choosing it, we knew it needed to have certain features: it had to be USB rechargeable, or we’d spend a small fortune in batteries. 

Rechargeable laser pens are a little more expensive, but they will save you so much more money in the long run, as they don’t need batteries. Get a reliable one, like the pointer we recommend, and you will get months of entertainment for your cat for around £10.

We also appreciate a pointer with adjustable displays, so you can turn the simple laser dot into another shape like a mouse, a bird, or a butterfly. A wrist-strap is handy too, in case you throw the toy at your cat or into your TV when you’re flicking the laser dot around. 

Most vital of all, however, is if you’re getting a random pointer from an online store is to check the user reviews, as they will tell you about the consistency of the build quality, which is incredibly important.

PetSafe FroliCat Dart Duo

(Image credit: FroliCat DART duo Automatic Rotating Laser Light)

PetSafe FroliCat Dart Duo

Best for multi-cat playtime

Primary exercise: Chasing/Hunting | Average price: Medium | Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Dual rotating laser pointers
Customise with adjustable speed settings
Automatic shut-off
Battery lasts for a good time
No manual timer
Slightly noisy when turned on
Prone to be knocked over during play

The PetSafe FroliCat Dart Duo Interactive Dual Laser is an automated toy featuring two lasers that rotate and create unpredictable paths for kitties to chase. The patterns are traced over 360 degrees and there are 16 play combinations and four variable speed settings to ensure your cat never knows what’s coming next. 

What sets the PetSafe FroliCat Dart Duo Interactive Dual apart from other cat toys in this class is the dual rotating lasers. Most of the best laser toys for cats on the market only have one, but PetSafe’s randomized dual beams are guaranteed to get cats darting and charging around the room in pursuit of them. If you have limited space, don’t worry, there are three distance settings which are easily adjustable for smaller or larger rooms. The dual lasers are also perfect if you have more than one cat as they make group play possible.

If you have an excitable cat or multiple cats in need of constant entertainment the PetSafe FroliCat Dart Duo, Interactive, Dual Laser Cat Toy will make the ideal purchase. It’s only drawback is the lack of a manual timer to set if you need to be away for more than 15 mins.

Best cat toys: The Catit Senses 2.0 Ball Dome

(Image credit: Catit)

Catit Senses 2.0 Ball Dome

Best for curious cats

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

Easy to assemble
Cats can play with it when you’re not at home
Could get knocked over by bigger cats
Not much variety in play

The Catit Senses 2.0 Ball Dome fits into the category of “peek and play box”, a type of cat toy that develops and encourages your cat’s innate hunting instincts. This particular incarnation brings the added bonus of some automation, so your cat can amuse him/herself while you’re not around.

The idea is a simple one, with your cat reaching inside the holes on top of the dome to bat around the ball located inside. While it doesn’t necessarily need batteries to be played with, we would recommend them as once powered up some of the more fun aspects of the Catit Senses 2.0 Ball Dome become apparent.

When your cat wanders near to the Dome a motion sensor is triggered that in turn causes a plate within the dome to start revolving, making the ball within move around and enticing your cat to come and play.

This will continue for as long as the toy holds your cat’s attention, should he/she get bored and walk away the Catit Senses 2.0 Ball Dome will power down until your cat goes near it again. It’s a neat new take on an old idea and one that is perfect for indoor and outdoor cats alike.

Best Cat Toys

(Image credit: Amazon)

GingerUP Cat Toy Cat Feather Toys

Best budget cat toy

Primary exercise: Pouncing and jumping | Average price: Cheap | Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Inexpensive
Good play between you and cat
They don’t last long
You may get scratched

The teaser wand is basically just a small toy on the end of a stick (usually suspended by elastic or a piece of string). Think of them as a fishing rod for cats. You can get one for just a few pounds, and they’re almost always a success with all types of cat. 

Kittens especially love them, as they’re perfect for practicing jumping, pouncing, and even biting. If you’re really tight on budget, you could even make a teaser wand yourself with a stick, string, and some kind of makeshift toy – they are that simple.

We recommend looking for a teaser wand with a decent pole, which isn’t going to break, so choose either a wooden or metal pole for sturdiness. Elastic is probably the best attachment for the toy, as it will flick further when your cat grabs it and lets go. 

The type of teaser really depends on your personal preference, or what your cat prefers. Ours likes a mouse-shaped attachment, although you can also get ones with colorful feathers or stringy tassels too.

The only downside is that they don’t last long. An active cat will claw through even the most well-made teaser toy in a handful of weeks, so be prepared to either change the attachment regularly or buy new ones every couple of months.

Best Cat Toys

(Image credit: Amazon)

Senneny Electric Moving Fish Cat Toy

Best for solo play

Primary exercise: Pouncing and kicking | Average price: Medium | Kitten-friendly?: Yes

Great exercise
Fun to watch
Some cats won’t touch them
Build quality is inconsistent

The flapping fish is a love it / hate it toy for cats. We’ve seen some cats absolutely adore it, whereas others just look a little scared and confused. There are all kinds of varieties, but most flapping fishes are realistic looking plushies, often life-size, that flap around just like a fish out of water. Most are motion or pressure activated too, so they only flap around for a few seconds when pounced on or batted by a cat.

Each one is padded, so your cat can grip it with their paws, and they’re the perfect shape and size for kicking. You’ll be surprised by how actively some of the cats flap when activated, and this can be intimidating for kittens and more shy cats. However, larger and more powerful cats will love the challenge of attacking it.

Make sure you get a rechargeable flapping fish, or you’ll spend a fortune on batteries.

Some come with sachets of catnip inside them, to entice your pet to interact with them for the first time. We can’t guarantee all cats will actually play with these fish, but those that do will have a great time solo-playing.

Best Cat Toys

(Image credit: Amazon)

Vealind GiGwi Automatic Moving Mouse Cat Toy

Good fun for chasing

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

Cheap toys
Fun to use
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 cheap 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.

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.