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Best kitten toys: The top plaything for your new cat

best kitten toys
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're looking for the best kitten toys then you've come to the right place.  From tantalizing teasers to laser pointers that will drive them wild, our selection of the best kitten toys will keep your feline friend well and truly occupied. 

Picking the perfect playthings for your kitten needn’t be a chore; although there may be plenty of choice lining the shelves, keeping your kitten occupied doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, simply by investing in a few different options that tap into your kitten's natural instincts to run, stalk, jump, and pounce, you can purchase exactly what you need 

You just can’t go wrong with the classics: a teaser wand, a toy mouse and ball, and track toys are perfect for letting your kitten explore their hunting instincts, but you can also pick up hi-tech options that can help to keep your kitty entertained while you’re out of the home. 

There are also a few essentials you’ll want to consider. By the age of 8-12 weeks, you’ll want to make to ensure you’ve invested in a good scratching post for your kitty, and you’ll need to consider what’s the best kitten food for your kitten. Having a few kitten treats to hand isn’t a bad idea too, though you’ll want to ensure they’re kept to a minimum. 

One word of advice is to make sure you only select toys that have been specifically made for kittens, as adult cat toys aren't always suitable for little ones. Flapping fish, for example, are very large and many kittens find these types of toys scary and overwhelming, so stick to playthings that are appropriate for their age and size.

Here are the best kitten toys to keep your young cat busy in 2022... 

PetsRadar's pick of the best kitten toys

Teaser wand

(Image credit: EcoCity)

GingerUP Cat Feather

Best overall kitten toy

Specifications

Average price: $5-15
Helps to develop: Pouncing, kicking, jumping
Suitable for: 8 weeks+

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap
+
All cats enjoy wands
+
Develops multiple skills

Reasons to avoid

-
Breaks easily

The classic cat teaser wand is as close to a ‘guaranteed toy’ as you can get with cats. While there’s no such thing as a universally loved toy, the teaser wand has entertained every single cat we’ve known. It’s perfect for kittens too, because you get to control how high they jump, how rough they get with their play, and how fast they run and pounce.

Most teaser wands come with a tempting toy at the end of a piece of elastic, which encourages your kitten to chase, jump, and generally attack. Make sure you do get one with an elastic string, which flexes when your kitten sinks in their claws - not only is it more fun for your kitty if the teaser keeps stretching when they play with it, but it’s safer if they get wrapped up in it too.

Many teasers come with spare attachments, either for variety, or to replace when your cat destroys or loses the first one. While this is useful to have, we don’t think you lose much by having one with a single attachment, as it’s often the wand or elastic that breaks before the toy itself. And, given how inexpensive the average teaser toy is… you can just buy a new one very easily.

(Image credit: Lucheng)

DIWUJI LED Laser Pointer

Best for value

Specifications

Average price: $10-20
Helps to develop: Pouncing, running, jumping
Suitable for: 12 weeks+

Reasons to buy

+
Good value toy
+
Your kitten won’t break it
+
Most cats love them

Reasons to avoid

-
Some are poorly made

The laser pointer is a great toy for cats of all ages, and kittens especially love playing with them. While adult cats may eventually get wise to chasing a laser dot around your living room, kittens love to explore and chase it, and you can have hours of fun making them sprint around the room, or watching them learn to pounce.

When you’re looking for a laser toy, you can go cheap and cheerful by just getting one that projects a laser dot onto whatever surface you point it at. Simple. You’ll probably only pay about $10 here. However, we find that cheaper laser pointers have weaker beams, are more prone to breaking, and will often chew through batteries alarmingly quickly. We recommend you spend a little more on a laser pointer that offers a few different filters for the beam, and that is rechargeable, saving you a fortune on batteries. Pick a laser pointer with either a keychain or a wrist-strap too - you don’t want to lose control of it when you’re playing with your kitten. 

While we think lasers are great for young cats, we wouldn’t recommend them for kittens under 12 weeks. Play with a pointer can see your kitten crashing into objects and walls, as they lack the control to stop themselves when chasing the dot. You don’t want younger kittens to hurt themselves playing like this.

(Image credit: Nova)

PAWZ Road Sisal Rope Scratching Post

Best kitten toy for all-round development

Specifications

Average price: $15-150
Helps to develop: Climbing, balance, jumping
Suitable for: 12 weeks+

Reasons to buy

+
Muti-activity toy
+
Good for your kitten
+
Keep it for years

Reasons to avoid

-
Often large and not stylish
-
Expensive

You’ll need to give your kitten some kind of outlet for climbing and scratching. That’s a fact. If you’re ok with them scratching your sofa and carpet to ribbons… that’s cool. If not, you should get them a scratching post or, even better, a full-on cat tree. Kittens won’t always take to regular scratching posts, and may just choose to ignore it and eviscerate your couch instead. However, they will need something to not only keep their claws sharp and remove old nails, but also to keep them amused too.

The best scratching posts come with some kind of toy attached to entice your kitten to use it. Often teasers and dangling balls will be enough to get them interested. However, sometimes even that won’t work, which is when you definitely need a cat tree.

A cat tree is a scratching post, platform, and series of modules designed to be a ‘full home’ for your kitten. They’ll climb it, scratch it, hide in it, and probably sleep in and on it too. Cats love these trees, as they enjoy (and feel safe) being at height. The only downsides are that cat trees are a) fairly expensive, and b) fairly large, and can take up a lot of space in your living room. We highly recommend a cat tree, as it’ll stay with you for years and actually work out as good value in the end.

(Image credit: Hexbug)

Vealind GiGwi Automatic Moving Mouse Cat Toy

Best self-play kitten toy

Specifications

Average price: $10-20
Helps to develop: Pouncing, Chasing
Suitable for: 8 weeks+

Reasons to buy

+
Great for self-play
+
Lasts a long time
+
Doesn't need winding up

Reasons to avoid

-
No guarantee your kitten will like it

A motorized or wind-up mouse will - if your kitten likes it - keep them occupied for decent periods of time. The problem is, they can be very hit and miss. We’ve known some young cats to really love watching and chasing a motorized mouse (or equivalent animal) toy, whereas others have zero interest at all. It’s a risk, but a low cost one.

The advantage of a battery-operated mouse (which we’d recommend over a clockwork toy) is that it keeps going indefinitely, and you don’t necessarily have to give your kitten your full attention for this kind of play. While we’d always recommend partitioning time to play with your cat every day, we do understand that waving a laser pointer for 10 fruitless minutes, while your cat simply stalks and never pounces, isn’t that fulfilling.

Wind-up mice can work, especially if you want to get involved as much as possible, but they’re less enticing for your cat. A toy that requires constant winding can only provide so much amusement, especially if your kitten is in the middle of a good stalking session.

(Image credit: EverBestSales)

EVERBESTSALESLLC Electric Cat Teaser Ball

Best combination kitten toy

Specifications

Average price: $10-20
Helps to develop: Pouncing, Chasing
Suitable for: 8 weeks+

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap
+
Universally enjoyed
+
Fairly sturdy

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for long play sessions

Animals, generally, tend to love spherical toys. If it’s shaped like a ball, and can’t be picked up by a creature with paws, it can provide endless entertainment. You could simply buy a bag of bouncy or plastic balls for a few dollars, and these will entertain any kitten for ages, but we recommend picking something with an additional teaser element.

Some cat balls come with a feather or jingling tail attached, so add a multi-sensory experience to play and entice kittens a little easier. You can also get battery operated balls that will move randomly when activated, making them unpredictable for when your kitty is chasing. This, again, adds an additional element to play and is more likely to keep your cat busy.

We like cat balls because they’re simple, they can be chased around by cats of all ages (safely), and they’re very resilient and will often last months and even years. The downside is that cats are fickle, and can be even more fickle when it comes to something so simple, but as the cost of admission is low… it’s well worth a go.

(Image credit: Cat Sip)

Cat Sip Real Milk Treat

Best kitten toy treat

Specifications

Average price: $5-8 per packet
Helps to develop: Bones, teeth, claws
Suitable for: 8 weeks+

Reasons to buy

+
Good for your cat
+
Kittens adore them
+
No need for cat milk

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a toy

Ok, this last one isn’t actually a toy, but we see it as an essential accessory for any kitten owner. Milk treats are basically small biscuits for your cat, with cat milk-infused centers, which help to give your kitten the calcium they need to develop strong bones and teeth. They allow you to give your cat milk without giving them actual milk, which they struggle to digest. Not only do they benefit development, they can also be used to reinforce behavior and supplement play.

They come in many different forms, from various manufacturers, but they all do roughly the same thing. We default to the Whiskers treats, as they seem to be the ones most enjoyed by our kitten. Whenever kittens become overwhelmed by life, or have difficult days at the vet getting inoculations or neutering operations, a milk treat or two can reaffirm their bond with you and get them remotivated.

It’s important to note that you should never exceed the recommended number of treats per day, and should always give them sparingly. You can substitute them for regular treats, but they may not confer the calcium benefit. And it’s worth noting that they’re mainly suitable for kittens and young, still-developing cats.

kitten spring toysPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: ISMARTEN )

ISMARTEN Pet Wide Colorful Springs

Best spring toy

Specifications

Average price: $13-15 for pack of 100
Helps to develop: Pouncing, Chasing
Suitable for: All ages

Reasons to buy

+
Inexpensive
+
Suitable for all ages
+
Kittens go wild for them
+
Easy to grasp

Reasons to avoid

-
Edges may need adjusted

Sometimes, the simple toys are the best and in the case of the ISMARTEN Pet Wide Colorful Springs Cat Toys, you might just find that your kitten goes well and truly crazy for them. The concept is simple to grasp: kittens can chase after the bouncy, colorful springs or bat at them across the room. It's an inexpensive way to keep your kitten entertained, and as this pack comes with 100, even if they lose them, there's still plenty more to keep then occupied. 

If you're looking for a fun way to encourage activity and exercise in your kitten and you enjoy watching them zooming about the place, the random bouncing movements are sure to create some interesting entertainment for both you and the cat. 

Providing you don't lose too many to an overenthusiastic feline and are able to round them up at the end of your play session, these springs are surprisingly durable and can be appreciated by cats of all ages. To get the most of your springs, pet parents suggest cutting the pointy ends off if your kitten likes to carry them around in the mouth, otherwise they should be good to go. 

How to choose the best kitten toy

When researching kitten toys we put the needs of a developing kitten at the center of all our decisions. In other words, we looked at the various skills and behaviors kittens need to practice in order to become healthy, happy cats. So, we tried to choose a variety of toys that help with all aspects of a kitten’s physical development. 

These toys all involve some kind of interaction or effort from you, the owner, which will help to improve the bond between you and your kitten. This is especially important for younger cats, as they need to feel like they’re in a safe environment away from their mother and siblings.

Kittens also get very tired playing, so most of the toys on this list can be used in short bursts, allowing you to interact with your young cat for smaller periods of time, before letting them rest. It’s important to let your kitten have time-outs between play sessions and explorations, as they can easily get overwhelmed and become hyperactive.

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.