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The best cat toys: Eight boredom-busting toys purr-fect to keep your kitty amused

Cat playing with one of the best cat toys
(Image credit: Getty)

The best cat toys are designed to help entertain and stimulate the furry friends in your life. Cats, especially indoor cats, need something to hunt, pounce on and chase, just as they would in the wild – it helps keep both their minds and bodies healthy. The problem is, as you have probably noticed, cats are fickle creatures and even the best cat toy won't necessarily keep their attention for long. Their favorite one day is often discarded the next, but that's not to say there aren't some staples out there that will keep them coming back time and again.

A good trick is to provide a variety of toys so your kitty can switch between them as the mood takes them. It's also sensible to provide other distractions like cat scratching posts, cat beds and cat hammocks to keep fur and claws off your furniture. These let them relax between playing sessions, meaning they'll be all the more interested when the more stimulating objects like the best laser cat toys and best catnip toys are re-introduced again. Cat's hunting instincts are innate, so it's important to provide toys that allow them to expend some energy by playing on their natural instincts to run, paw and pounce.

When choosing a cat toy you need to think about how they can help you too. The best cat toys will help you bond with your cat. Yes, the best interactive cat toys and the best automated cat toys are great for when you need to get things done or keep kitty occupied while you are out, but toys that you operate yourself will strengthen your relationship with your fur bay and let them associate you with fun times and will help build trust between you. Getting involved yourself also lets you see which toys they are most interested in and lets you rotate toys randomly to ensure moggy interest remains high.

For those times when you aren't around we've got you covered too. There's some automated cat toys that can spring to life at predetermined moments and others that don't need your input at all. And if you want to see how effective they are at engaging your beloved kitty, the best pet cameras can help you out there. Not only can you check they are getting the exercise and mental stimulation they need, you don't miss out on their cute crazy antics.

So, whether you are in the market for something simple like a feather on a stick, or you want an interactive automated toy with all the bells and whistles, we guarantee our guide to the best cat toys has got something for the four-legged friend in your life.

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.

Two kittens playing with the pawaboo cat tunnelPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Pawaboo cat tunnel tube collapsible play tent

Best toy for kittens

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

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

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: ORSDA Electronic Cat Toy

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ORSDA Electronic Cat Toy

Best for home-alone cats

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

Attention grabbing
Two modes of play
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 for curious cats

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

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

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GingerUP Cat Toy Cat Feather Toys

Best budget cat toy

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

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.

Andy Hartup

Andy is an online Editor-in-Chief, a photographer, and a cat owner of 25 years. He has owned many types of cat, rescuing some and adopting others from kittens. He currently lives with Pickle, a tortie, who loves to play with Christmas wrapping bows and eat flowers.