Best interactive cat toys: Help your cat stay mentally sharp

best interactive cat toys
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Investing in the best interactive cat toys is well worth it if you’re looking for a fun and stimulating way to give your feline friends mental and physical health a boost. Some of the best cat toys that money can buy, interactive playthings can help your kitty to channel their brain power and natural feline instincts into a productive outlet.

According to Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, interactive cat toys are especially important for indoor cats who are lacking the wide range of enrichment in their environment that their outdoor brothers and sisters naturally have access to and can easily become bored. 

“Interactive cat toys are a really good way to keep your cat entertained. In the wild, cats would spend a lot of their time hunting, with frequent failed catches, and eating several small meals a day, with the rest of the time sleeping to conserve energy. Domesticated cats don’t need to hunt, so they spend much of their time sleeping, but this can lead to boredom, behavioral problems, and weight gain.”

Interactive cat toys are also highly beneficial for cats that are without a feline friend to play with and those that may be left without human companionship for long periods of the day. Just like the best automated cat toys, interactive options can be used independently, enabling your kitty to engage its body and mind. 

When it comes to selecting interactive toys for your cat, you really are spoiled for choice with a range of great options available. The best laser toys for cats and fast-flapping fish are great choices for the curious and active kitty, while balls that dispense treats and puzzles that give the brain a good workout may be right up a senior cat's street. 

To help you find the right fit for your furkid, we’ve rounded up a selection of the best interactive cat toys with options to suit every age and stage. 

PetsRadar's pick of the best interactive cat toys

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Best interactive cat toys: Catit Senses 2.0 Super Circuit

(Image credit: Amazon)

Catit Senses 2.0 Super Circuit

Best overall interactive cat toy

Specifications

Weight: 1.1kg
Dimensions: 26.67 x 19.81 x 24.89
Batteries required?: No
Recommended age: 1 month and above
Material: Plastic

Reasons to buy

+
Customisable into multiple layouts
+
Easy to assemble and clean
+
Compatible with other Catit products

Reasons to avoid

-
No free flashing ball

We’re yet to meet a cat that doesn’t love smashing balls around the floor. While it’s great to see them having fun, having to constantly retrieve their spherical prey from underneath cupboards can grow tiresome.

Thanks to the Catit Senses 2.0 Super Circuit, this will no longer be a problem for you. An upgrade on the blue Super Roller Circuit, this new version takes on a green hue – and owners of the original will be envious when they see what this comes with.

Unlike the original, this is fully customizable. Depending on your preferences, the 2.0 Super Circuit can be configured into over 100 different layouts. This will allow you to keep things interesting for your cats, giving you the option to change things around should you get bored.

Once you’ve purchased and set it up, the play process for your cat is simple: they bat the ball around along the track until their heart’s content. We found assembly simple, with everything clicking easily into place.

Some reviews have reported difficulty in assembly, but we reported no such issues at our end, so maybe it was a case of early different problems.

Another great feature is that this is designed to be compatible with other Catit products. Whether it’s other circuits, the Senses 2.0 Grass Planter or Senses 2.0 Food Tree, everything fits together seamlessly, leaving open numerous cat activity possibilities.

Our only real quibble is that this doesn’t come with the flashing light-up ball the Super Roller Circuit had, and that our cats were so fond of – you’ll have to buy that separately, or pilfer it from the old circuit.

Ultimately, however, this is a nitpick. While cats can be fickle, we’re yet to find one that hasn’t been utterly entranced by this. If you’re on the hunt for toys for your felines then you can’t go far wrong with this.

cat toyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Migipaws)

Migipaws Interactive Cat Toy

Best for eye-paw coordination

Specifications

Weight: 15.87 ounces
Dimensions: 7.44 x 7.28 x 2.91 inches
Material: Plastic
Recommended age: All

Reasons to buy

+
7 hole whack-a-mole design
+
Rechargeable battery
+
Smart sensor

Reasons to avoid

-
Feathers aren't overly durable

With colorful feathers that randomly pop out of seven different holes on the top and sides of the toy, this unpredictable game is highly entertaining and will keep your feline friend amused for hours at a time. 

The toy is equipped with a distance sensor detection, which can detect a cat approaching within 5 inches, enabling it to automatically turn itself on. It also has an auto off feature, so if your cat hasn't used it in five minutes it will power down to save the battery.

And speaking of batteries, the toy comes with a rechargeable one that offers around seven days of life for two hours of charge based on your kitty playing with the Migipaw for around 30 minutes each day. 

The only downside is the feathers, which aren't overly durable. However, that being said, the toy does come with four replacements, which should keep your kitty going for a while. 

Best interactive cat toys: PetSafe SlimCat Food Dispensing Cat Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

PetSafe SlimCat Food Dispensing Cat Toy

Best budget interactive cat toy

Specifications

Weight: 25.9g
Dimensions: 14.73 x 8.13 x 17.78 cm
Material: BPA-free plastic
Recommended age: All ages

Reasons to buy

+
Helps fight cat obesity
+
Great source of exercise
+
Easy to clean

Reasons to avoid

-
Some cats might not use it as intended

Obesity can be a problem among cats, especially indoor ones. Minimal opportunities for exercise coupled with the ready availability of food can inexorably lead to expanding feline waistlines.

Enter the SlimCat Food-Dispensing Cat Toy from PetSafe. Effectively doing just what the title says, usage requires the spherical toy to be filled – at least partially – with a certain amount of food. When the cat starts knocking it about, food will be dispensed from it. Thus, its goal is reached – kitty has to work for their dinner.

This works well in a number of ways. Firstly, in order to aid digestion, cats are generally supposed to have a number of small meals rather than fewer large ones. While this isn’t always possible to achieve during day-to-day, this device allows this to become a possibility once more.

Since the food is dispensed slowly, cats will eat slowly as a result. It’s the best kind of cat toy – encouraging engagement and healthy eating in one fell swoop. Whether you choose to use it as a dinner time aid or fill it with treats for some fun and games, it’s equally versatile.

Additionally, it’s made from BPA-free plastic, and can be cleaned safely in the dishwasher, making it safe to use in the long-term.

It’s hard to describe our one bugbear as a flaw since it depends entirely on the nature of your cat. While one of ours happily smashed it around in search of edible treats, the other took a more measured approach, slowly nudging it until food dropped out. Maybe our cat simply discovered a life hack?

Regardless, this still comes highly recommended. There are all manner of food dispensers out there, but few as efficient and straightforward as this.

Best interactive cat toy: Cat playing with the Catit Play Tumbler Bee

(Image credit: Amazon)

Catit Play Tumbler Bee Interactive Cat Toy

Best interactive cat toy for kittens

Specifications

Shipping weight: 6.4 oz
Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 10 cm
Batteries included?: No

Reasons to buy

+
Has a number of features
+
Small size ideal for kittens

Reasons to avoid

-
Might move too quickly for some cats
-
Doesn’t come with batteries

Encouraging play in kittens is important for their development, so it pays to get it right when you start looking for toys for them.

Catit has a good reputation for creating products that are designed to engage with pets, and it looks like the trick has been repeated once more with the Catit Play Tumbler Bee.

Essentially, its functions are threefold: while it spins, kittens will love chasing the plushie bee that adorns the top of its antennae. Laser beams for your kitten to chase will be emitted from time to time too, and finally, the base contains a dispenser for which to drop food out of, meaning you can choose it as a means of allocating treats.

In our tests, the results were generally impressive. There was a lot to take in for our small cat, who had a great time chasing the laser, and definitely appreciated the treats.

It can move rather quickly, with some accounts saying that this discouraged their cats from further usage, so if yours is naturally timid, it might not necessarily be the best option, but this wasn’t an issue we personally encountered.

Unlike some other interactive cat toys, this also requires two AA batteries (not included), although these will be safely out of reach of your cat. Having to change them from time to time may be cumbersome, but ultimately it will be worth it for the experience it offers your kitten. All in all, it’s a great starter kit for them.

Best interactive cat toys: Bilisder Electric Moving Fish Cat Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

Bilisder Electric Moving Fish Cat Toy

Best flapping fish interactive cat toy

Specifications

Dimensions: 27.4 x 9.9 x 6.6 cm
Weight: 200 g
Batteries required?: No

Reasons to buy

+
Rechargeable, so no need for batteries
+
No sharp or rough edges
+
Great for solo play

Reasons to avoid

-
Might be intimidating for some cats

There’s something about toys designed to look like animals that naturally freaks us out a bit. So, this offering from Bilisder proved to be a welcome surprise, working efficiently and effectively, and providing lots of enjoyment for our cat.

Arriving with a built-in sensor, the fish moves around when the cat comes into contact with it, making it seem lifelike and engaging towards its predators. The more they attack and tear at this unfortunate fish, the less likely they are to scratch at your carpet or furniture.

Made of cotton and soft plush, cats are able to safely chew and scratch at it, meaning you can leave them without having to worry. Moreover, it is filled with naturally-grown catnip, as if they somehow needed any further encouragement.

It’s worth emphasizing the positive behavioral and health effects that come from this. Catnip has been proven to decrease anxiety in cats, and playing with the toy has a gradual calming effect.

Also ideal is the fact that this is rechargeable. So many products seem to require battery use, but conveniently forget to include them, so it’s refreshing to see this. The chargeable motor is easy to separate from the rest of the toy, making it easy to clean when required.

It’s quite a hefty toy, which might make it slightly off-putting for smaller cats, but others will enjoy being able to attack and hurl it around in a consequence-free manner. It’ll be both fun for you to watch them embrace their inner kitten, and for them to truly let loose.

Best interactive cat toys: Ferplast Tornado Circuit Clever And Happy Cat Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

Ferplast Tornado Circuit Clever And Happy Cat Toy

Best interactive cat toy with rotating ball

Specifications

Weight: 645 g
Dimensions: 24 x 24 x 34 cm
Batteries required?: No

Reasons to buy

+
Plenty for your cat to do
+
Doesn’t take up much space
+
Great for hyperactive cats

Reasons to avoid

-
Big cats may knock it over

We’ve come to expect quality from Ferplast products, and we’re glad to say that we weren’t disappointed with the Tornado Circuit.

Its functions are two-fold: first, there’s a rotating hanging ball on the top, intended for your cat to swipe at (and trust us, they won’t need much encouragement on that front). Second, there are a couple of balls secured by tracks on the lower platform. One of them contains a flashing LED light, designed to catch your cat’s attention and encourage further play.

The device is made from cat-safe plastic, meaning you can leave them alone with it and not have to worry. If one of the balls somehow gets broken, it’s easy enough to take apart and replace, thus ensuring a degree of longevity.

Ultimately, the degree of usage you get out of it will depend on the personality of your cat. If they’re sufficiently hyperactive enough to be enticed by it then hours of fun are guaranteed. Saying this, it’s not the biggest, so it might be liable to get knocked over.

Also, we can’t help the feeling that this is like two inferior versions of different products. The PetSafe FroliCat Dart Duo’s laser has many more functions, and the track for Petit’s 2.0 Super Circuit offers far more to do than the one included here.

Saying that, if you’re happy with essentially combining these products (and in the process gain an inferior but still worthwhile product in the process), then you can’t go too far wrong.

Best interactive cat toys: Petstages Tower of Tracks

(Image credit: Amazon)

Petstages Tower of Tracks

Best track-style interactive cat toy

Specifications

Weight: 272 g
Dimensions: 15 x 24.7 x 24.7 cm
Batteries required?: No

Reasons to buy

+
Ideal for solo play and play with your cat
+
Well constructed – balls won’t come loose
+
Durable

Reasons to avoid

-
Can sometimes get knocked over

Petstages’ Tower of Tracks is one of the most popular interactive cat toys around, and it’s easy to see why.

It may look simple – three tiers containing a ball on each track for your cats to knock around – but a lot of thought has clearly gone into this. The user-friendly nature and strong production values are testament to its appeal.

Unlike other similar products, the balls won’t come loose, no matter how hard your cats swipe at them. They stay there securely for long-lasting fun and continue to stimulate your cats’ senses and hone their hunting instincts for long durations. It’s both a mental and physical workout.

Moreover, there’s a high degree of versatility to this. Cats can either play solo, with other cats or with you. Simply knock the ball towards them, and see if they bat it back. Another layer of comfort is the safety bar on top, which keeps cats from getting stuck. The product description recommends supervision, but this seems pretty safe to us – you can feel secure knowing that they’ll come to no harm while using this.

We’re really struggling to find downsides here – once or twice our cat managed to knock it over, but that’s hardly a huge issue. It won’t break the bank, chances are your cats will love it, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space. It’s hard to know what more to ask for.

When looking for interactive cat toys, this should really be near the top of your list.

Best interactive cat toys: Doc & Phoebe Indoor Hunting System Cat Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

Doc & Phoebe Indoor Hunting System Cat Toy

Best interactive cat toy feeder

Specifications

Weight: 136 g
Dimensions: 12 x 5 x 5 cm (each mouse)
Material: Plastic
Care instructions: Hand wash only

Reasons to buy

+
Encourages natural cat behaviour
+
Aids digestion
+
Encourages exercise

Reasons to avoid

-
Can cause mess

We’ve seen a few interactive feeders here, but these are the first ones that truly hone cats’ natural hunting instincts. And it’s done in the most obvious way: by shaping the feeders like some of their favourite prey.

The set comes with three mouse-shaped feeders, which you then proceed to fill with food, after which you hide them around the house. Once your cat finds them, voila! Dinner is served.

As well as encouraging natural cat behavior and providing them with smaller meals (each mouse holds 1.6 tablespoons of food), a number of other adverse types of behaviour are combated by this. These include destructive behaviour, scarf and barf and night waking. Manufacturers Doc & Phoebe claim to take their approach from “science and nature”, so it’s no surprise that this product’s health benefits are emphasized.

While these credentials aren’t in doubt as far as we’re concerned, there are other factors that can prove to be problematic. One of which is that if you choose to leave your cats to it, don’t be surprised if you come back to find a load of leftover food on the floor. There’s every chance that cats will treat these mice just like they treat any rodents they may encounter in the wild.

Shaping these feeders like mice may be a gimmick, but there’s no denying their effectiveness, and we’d be hard-pressed not to recommend it. Easy to use and maintain (handily, these are machine washable), these have to be some of the more innovative cat feeders out there.

best interactive cat toysPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Burgeon)

BurgeonNest Interactive Cat Toy

Best for chasing

Specifications

Weight: 381 g
Dimensions: 14 x 9.7 x 7.8 cm
Material: Various
Batteries required?: No

Reasons to buy

+
USB charging, so no need to buy batteries.
+
Has a self-operating mode for when you're not around.
+
Numerous attachments.

Reasons to avoid

-
Can become stuck.

If you – or your cat, most importantly – is getting bored with chase toys then this offering from Burgeon could be worth a look.

Taking the form of a moving platform, it contains a number of attachments, such as feathers, for your cat to chase. This can be done in a pre-programmed fast or slow mode, depending on your cat's preferences or level of mobility.

On one full charge (which can be performed via USB), it stays active for 20 minutes, before switching off for 1.5 hours, and then starting up again. This gives your cat chance to rest, as well as preserving the battery life, which in thos mode can last for 7 days.

When in operation, the movements are suitably random. It will move forwards and backwards, and occasionally rotate, keeping your cat on its toes.

While it works fine on most indoor surfaces – including carpet – it can get stuck in rooms with plenty of obstacles. Also, some user reviews have complained about there being little leeway between the two modes – a medium-speed option would have been nice.

Regardless, this does its job well, and is one you should consider if you plan to leave your cat at home alone for an extended period of time.

Nina Otterson Rainy Day Puzzle by PetstagesPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon )

Nina Otterson Rainy Day Puzzle by Petstages

Best for a real cat challenge

Specifications

Weight : 794g
Dimensions : 1.3" H x 15.4" L x 9.4" W
Batteries required: No
Recommended age: All
Material: Wood plastic composite

Reasons to buy

+
There are 14 hidden compartments
+
It's made from food safe materials
+
You could use as part of the feeding routine

Reasons to avoid

-
Once they've cracked it, will it be as fun?

best interactive cat toysPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Petsafe)

PetSafe Portable Cheese Automatic Cat Teaser

Best portable interactive cat toy

Specifications

Weight : 237g
Dimensions : 13 x 14 x 19 cm
Batteries required: 3 AA
Allergen information: Allergen free

Reasons to buy

+
Can be put on a timer
+
Two-year warranty
+
Automatically switches off

Reasons to avoid

-
Batteries not included

If you're someone who takes your cat with you on your travels then you'll want to get them something you can carry around with you. This product from PetSafe perfectly fits the bill, as we will explain below.

Firstly, it's sufficiently small and lightweight, weighing in at only 237 grams. You will barely notice the extra weight in your suitcase.

Secondly, the level of interactivity is such that it will constantly keep your cat guessing. It will take your cats a long time – if they manage at all – to work out the sequence in which the mice pop up out of the cheese.

Finally, it's perfectly geared for your to leave your cats unattended. It can br programmed to switch on and off at certain times, and there is a timer to ensure that it shuts down when inactive.

However, it may not be suitable for all cats. Due to its diminutive stature, larger cats may make short work of it. Also, some have reported their cats getting their claws stuck on the mice, so it may make sense to monitor them the first few times they use it so that they don't experience something similar.

best interactive cat toyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Catit)

Catit Senses 2.0 Wellness Center

Best for wellness

Specifications

Weight : 1.98lb
Dimensions : 21.5 x 18.5 x 4.5 inches
Batteries required: No

Reasons to buy

+
Can be operated by your cat completely independently
+
Helps with mental wellbeing
+
Good for grooming

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for size

We have consistently been impressed by the quality and range of products offered by Catit, and this looks to have reached the standard they are renowned for.

The Catit Senses 2.0 Wellness Center has a number of features that are designed to help your cat's mental wellbeing. Coming with a variety of brushes, textures, and ridges that will help your cat groom themselves, this is an activity center for the senses.

Moreover, the various features on show will prompt your cat to use their natural senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. With 360-degree grooming on show, you can be sure that they will get a lot out of it.

Fitting in with the same design scheme as the rest of Catit's products, it can easily be slotted together with them to create a collection of activity centers for your cat.

Our only real quibble is the price – it's not the biggest product, and the price seems like a lot.

Even so, with this price comes confidence that you are buying proven quality, so maybe the impact on your wallet is worth it. 

How to choose the best interactive cat toy

Although most of the toys here will keep a kitty occupied when no-one is around, this one is perhaps more fun when played under supervision. It'll pose a great challenge for any cat while also giving you a chance to bond.

The idea is that you load it up with treats by initially placing them inside shallow cups. The hope is that cats soon learn they can paw at the plastic raindrop shapes used to cover the cups, enabling them to have a small morsel of food.

As time goes on, however, and a cat becomes acquainted with the task, you can up the ante a tad. The toy comes with a series of pegs and food can be dropped inside those as well. A cat can only get at the treats by pawing at the pegs until they're over the shallow cups, allowing the food to drop. By swishing the cup away, they're able to get at the food.

It's all rather ingenious and the enjoyment is in watching a cat work out what is needed to eat. But that’s not all. Central to the toy is a spinning wheel and this is where you are needed to be on hand. By moving the wheel you can uncover hidden treat cups and it's great to see if a cat responds. Who knows? They may even figure out how to turn the wheel themselves!

Keep things varied. If you already have two or free cat food dispensers, then maybe pick something a little bit different.

When choosing which toys to buy for your cats, there are a number of factors to consider. For our money, the most important to bear in mind are:

Will your cat like it? If he or she is naturally timid or a bit jumpy, then something loud and intimidating may not be the best option.

What’s the brand? Certain names have a track record of consistently delivering high-quality products. We’ve seen a lot of quality output from Catit, for instance, and PetSafe and Petstages also score highly in this regard.

How well has it been reviewed? The better the reviews, the less of a risk it is likely to be. If you’re buying something with few or no reviews then you’re undertaking a big gamble.

Which places stock it? When it comes to pet toys, reputable stockists include PetSmart, Fetch and Amazon. We recommend looking at these sites first (or the manufacturers’ own websites) rather than smaller, lesser-known ones. It makes sense to shop around.

Keep things varied If you already have two or free cat food dispensers, then maybe pick something a little bit different.

How can I make my cat more interactive?

While toys are ideal for keeping your cat mentally and physically stimulated and encouraging them to be more interactive, they’re not the only tool in the box when it comes to helping your feline friend to engage.

Although much will depend on your cat’s personality, with some kitties naturally being less interactive than others, there are several things you can do to keep your cat busy and help prevent stress and boredom.

First up, investing in one of the best cat scratching posts is a good idea. Not only does having a designated area your kitty can go to sharpen their claws and have a good stretch provide them with a way to exercise and destress, but it can also help to put a stop to negative behaviors, such as inappropriate scratching and having your cat peeing outside the litter box.

Letting your cat hunt for their food as they would in the wild is also a fantastic way to introduce more interactive activities into their day. Using the best cat food, try breaking up their dinner into small portions and placing it in bowls around the house to create a treasure hunt for them. 

If you have a senior cat who finds moving about tricky or your fur friend simply isn’t a fan of having to roam the house to find their food, try using the best cat treats in conjunction with the best cat puzzle feeder to add an element of challenge to mealtimes that’s better suited to your kitty’s age and personality. 

Finally, why not teach your cat to walk on a leash and take them on an outdoor adventure? If you have access to a garden and your feline is normally kept indoors, kitting them out in one of the best cat harnesses and letting them interact with the different sights and sounds of the great outdoors can be a fun activity for both of you.

How much interactive play do cats need?

From banishing boredom to soothing stress, interactive cat play is incredibly important for your feline friends' physical and mental wellbeing. Not only can regular play sessions help your kitty stay happy and healthy, but they’re also a great way to teach appropriate behavior and strengthen your bond. But how much play do experts recommend?

“It’s a good idea to try to encourage your cat to be physically active in several short bursts each day,” advises Woodnutt. “For most adult cats, 10 to 15 minutes of play three to four times a day is perfect. Interactive cat toys can help with encouraging this physical activity even when you’re out of the house or busy.”

How much time your cat spends playing will depend on a variety of factors, including their age, weight, health, and mobility level. If you find your feline friend struggles to play for the recommended length of time, try shorter sessions and extend as and when your kitty has the stamina.