Playful Kitten is Happy Kitten – The Best Toys for Indoor Cats

Even though you might think of your feline as the cutest and the most innocent creature in the world, cats are in fact predators by their nature. This means they can only be happy as long as they hunt. Domestic cats that have a chance to go outdoors, visit the garden and feel the grass under their paws, still can enjoy this activity from time to time, chasing birds, mice or bugs.
On the other hand, indoor cats often fail to satisfy this instinct which results in various inconveniences for their owners – scratched furniture, destroyed clothes, occasionally a dead parrot or a goldfish. Fortunately, these tragic results can be prevented if you supply your beloved furry friend with adequate indoor toys.
Keep reading, and we will tell you everything you need to know about the best cat toys for indoor cats.

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Why is buying cat toys crucial for their happiness?

Once you adopt or buy a kitten and take it to the vet for their first health check, you will be presented with the list of risks and dangers that outdoors pose for your pet’s well-being. Soon, you will realize that keeping your cat indoors seems like a safer, smarter and better option, offering a relatively controlled environment for their growth and development.
Deciding to keep your cat indoors all the time, will protect them from being injured by cars, dogs, other cats, wild animals and at last people. Also, it will drastically decrease the risk of them picking up various parasites or dangerous infectious diseases, like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
Without any doubt, indoor cats have a longer lifespan than outdoor cats for all of the reasons listed above. However, there is one significant disadvantage of indoor keeping – boredom. Seeing your beautiful feline, longingly staring out of the window does more damage than simply breaking your heart.
Boredom in cats leads to stress and consequently weight gain, which comes with various health complications such as diabetes and liver diseases. This could significantly shorten your mitten’s life, and every pet owner would like to avoid that at any cost.
Luckily, this is where cat toy industry jumps in as a savior. There is a wide range of indoor cat toys on the market, and it is up to you to choose ones that will fit your pet’s needs the best. There is another bonus point that comes with toys – a significant number of them is designed to be interactive, which means your participation is needed. This can help cat owners create a stronger bond with their beloved feline.

How to tell if your cat is bored?

On average, your cat will spend 13-16 hours a day sleeping. That means cat will snooze through 2/3 of their life. If you would sleep that much, you would probably wake up groggy and lethargic. On the other side, cats function differently. As they get only up to 10 waking hours a day, they like to seize them the best they can. These hours need to be fun and enriching. So, if your cat is bored, it is your responsibility to provide them with tools for fun.
Experts are still not sure if cats experience boredom the same way we do, however, apparent signs that cat is bored exist and they can be easily spotted. Here comes the list:

  • Chasing inappropriate moving objects, along with excessive clawing or scratching in forbidden areas (carpet, walls, furniture, etc.)
  • Baiting, annoying, hunting or fighting with other pets
  • Frequent vocalizations
  • Over-grooming, biting/chewing their skin, pulling out the fur
  • Too many naps or resting, visible lack of natural curiosity and over reacting

In the best case scenario, these signs will be just the symptoms of boredom. However, the same behavior patterns can appear as symptoms of various medical or behavior problems. It is essential to rule out all possible medical causes before you conclude your cat is merely bored. If you notice any of these signs in your cat, take it to the veterinarian for an examination and then proceed to buy adequate toys, if everything is fine with their health.

What is the relationship between boredom and cat obesity?

According to Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s (APOP) research, 58.9% of cats in the United States were classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarians. Any cat whose body weight is 20 percent or more above the normal weight is considered obese.
Unfortunately, indoor cats are prone to weight gain because of boredom and limited exercise possibilities. They don’t have a chance to run around so much, chase other animals, climb trees or jump to catch prey. That is why we have to create an optimal home environment that will offer them a space for recreation.
Cat trees with perches that encourage climbing, along with scratching posts or pads will help your cat stay active and at the same time take care of their claws. Careful toy selection has a significant role here. Right toys will motivate your cat to leap, pounce, run and bound, and therefore, maintain the ideal body fat percentage.
Overweight and obese cats have significantly increased the risk of suffering from these weight-related health issues:

  • Liver disease (hepatic lipidosis)
  • Increased risk during surgery or under anesthetic
  • Decreased life quality and length
  • Skin disorders (dry skin or feline acne)

​You can assess your cat’s physique on your own, using a “Body Condition Score” chart. Major pet food manufacturers (Purina, for example) often provide their buyers with these charts, to make sure they don’t overfeed them.
In general, this assessment starts with a brief rib check, where you should run both hands across the feline’s ribcage on either side, palms facing down. If ribs are not palpable, as they are hidden under a thick layer of fat, it is likely your cat is obese.
The second step is a profile check, where you should look at your cat from the side, and the last one is an overhead check, where you should look down on your pet from above. If your cat is obese, you will notice substantial fat deposits over the lumbar region, limbs, and face. Also, their abdomen will seem bloated and enlarged, while the waistline won’t be visible.

What should you know before purchasing a cat toy?

Many cat owners complain how they spent a lot of money on cat toys only to toss them away, as their beloved pet never plays with them. If you want to avoid this situation, here’s what you should know. Cats, just like humans, have different personality types. Therefore they prefer various forms of entertainment.
The best advice you can get is to watch your indoor cat exercise and play on their own and engage in play with them for a few days, before purchasing a cat toy. This way, you will discover what your kitten’s predominant interests are. During this period you should use laser pen lights, dangle feathers or some cloth in front of your cat or include treat balls. This will let you observe which behaviors are the most frequent and which type of entertainment provokes which kind of reaction.
These are the types of behaviors you should look for:

  • Does your cat prefer to leap up to catch toys in mid-air?
  • Is your feline interested in repeatedly pouncing on a noisy toy on the ground?
  • Is carrying the toy in their mouth for a while after a catch a typical behavior?
  • Does your cat seem to enjoy stalking the toy?
  • Once you gather this information, your choice will be much simpler.

What are the key features of a good cat toy?

Though cat’s personality is vital for toy choice, it is not the only factor that should be taken into consideration. There is the list of essential features you should look for if you want to ensure an optimal experience for your pet.
Here’s what you should look for:

  • Safety – Make sure to choose cat toys that are smooth, seamless, without any sharp edges or small detachable parts that might be swallowed and cause suffocation or any problems with the digestive tract.
  • Durability – High-quality materials often dictate higher price, but if your cat is playful, young and energetic, they might end up destroying cheap, delicate toys sooner than you expect. 
  • Shape - The shape of the toy should be synchronized with cat’s entertainment preferences. This is where you should pay the most attention to the behaviors your feline enjoys. Chasers will prefer round toys that will roll around, jumpers will go for dangling, while carriers will choose the smaller toy they can keep in their mouth for a while.
  • Sound – If your cat prefers sounds, toys that chirp, cheep, crinkle or flutter as they move around are probably the best idea.
  • Treat holder - Food-motivated cats that enjoy catnip, kibble and various other small delicacies will appreciate toys that have a treat holder feature. These toys will often make some noise which is an excellent combo for cats who prefer sounds and like to engage in a food chase. 

Pro tips for choosing the best indoor cat toys

Experts that specialize in cat behavior made a list of advice to help you select your first toy set to keep your kitten happy and entertained. Here’s the piece of wisdom they have to share:

  • Purchase one or two toys which are designed for solo playtime. These will keep your feline busy when you are not home. 
  • Buy one or two toys meant for interactive playtime. These will strengthen your bond with your pet if you use them together.
  • Select at least one toy that comes with a treat compartment, whether it is catnip, kibble or any other delicacy.
  • Pay attention to the toy size. It should never be so large that your cat starts feeling like a prey instead of the predator.
  • If you are purchasing toys that produce any sound, make sure its type and volume don't result in fear.

Until you know for sure, which type of toys your cat truly prefers, don’t spend a lot of money. Even if you buy a bunch of toys at once, introduce them one at a time. Once you start introducing them, make sure to mimic prey movements to initiate interest and first engagement.
Now, you are ready to dive into the pool of different toy choices. We will present you the five best on the market, and you can choose whichever suits your cat’s needs and your budget.

Top 5 Toys for Indoor Cats – My 2017 Reviews

98
/100

Editor's Rating: 98/100
Price: $10.09

Bergan's famous Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy comes in various colors, and it consists of round cardboard scratcher and a channel, where small ball slides and your cat can push it with its paws or nose. The textured pad is replaceable and durable, so your cat could use it for many years. For the money invested, you will get a sturdy construction and numerous hours of fun.
This toy is definitely well-made. Your cat won’t be able to damage it or tip it over, which means you can let it play without your supervision. Also, the cardboard scratcher can be switched once it wears off, and the replacements are inexpensive. For optimal results, you should change it once or twice a year.
Even though cats are undoubtedly attracted to this toy, you might have to use a little catnip or play with a ball to initiate interest once you first introduce it to your pet. The downsides are the fact it will slide around the floor if you don’t use a pad to secure it and it will produce a loud noise. This might scare some felines off or irritate you.


Things I liked:

  • It is well made, sturdy and versatile.
  • Ball and scratcher provide hours of fun.
  • Cardboard scratcher doesn't have to be replaced too often.
  • It is safe, even if you leave your cat unsupervised.


Things I didn’t liked:

  • It slides around the floor.
  • Some cats prefer not to use the scratcher.
  • It can be noisy.
  • Cats with stronger paws might dig out the ball and lose it.
88
/100

Editor's Rating: 88/100​​​​
Price: $9.69

If your cat is not interested in scratchers and one track with moving ball is not enough, why not triple the number of tracks and balls? Petstages’ brightly colored Tower of Tracks offers three levels of ball-spinning fun. Each ball has a different design which stimulates feline’s senses and entertains their mind. If you purchase this toy, you will get a safe, straightforward product that will make your kitty happy and provide them with necessary exercise.
The most significant advantage of the Tower of Tracks is the fact that it has multiple levels and multiple balls, which means your cat has to divide their attention and therefore develop their reactions. Also, the toy comes with no-slip base, so you don’t have to think where to place it. The tracks are wide enough, so your pet’s paws won’t get stuck in them.
Unfortunately, this product comes only in bright orange color, so it probably won’t go well with your room decoration. Also, it is a bit lighter than expected, so your cat might end up tipping it over or moving it. The blue paint on the edges of tracks might chip, so make sure your cat doesn’t ingest it.


 Things I liked:


  • It produces triple stimulation.
  • It comes with no-slip base pads.
  • Cat’s paws don’t get stuck in tracks.
  • Takes up a little space and it is suitable for small kittens.
  • The toy is safe, so it doesn’t require constant monitoring.

Things I didn’t liked:

  • It comes only in bright orange color. 
  • It is lightweight.
  • The paint on the edges might chip.
  • The bottom ball might come out.
95
/100

Editor's Rating: 95/100
Price: $7.22

If you are looking for a cheap yet effective toy, Cat Charmer Wand might be the best solution. Made in the USA, it consists of polycarbonate wand and long, colorful fabric. You should be aware that this is not a toy for solo playtime, you will have to participate. However, for the money you invest in this product, you will get a wittily designed toy that will provide you and your cats with many hours of playtime.
If you are aiming for excellent aerobic exercise for your cat, this toy will serve you well. It is affordable, its bright colors provoke feline’s interest, and light weight makes it easier for operation. It is indeed one of those toys that inspire interaction and strengthen the cat-owner bond. Whether your pet prefers jumping or stalking, it will have fun with this either way.
Many cats like to chew the fabric part of this toy. So, never leave them unsupervised with it. This might lead to constipation or similar health complications. Also, the plastic stick could be a bit longer so you could cover more extensive area and make your cat exercise more.


Things I liked:

  • It is extremely affordable.
  • It is colorful and light in weight.
  • It initiates interaction.
  • It entertains cats who love to stalk and the ones who prefer jumping.
  • The fabric strip is long and doesn’t have a little toy at the end.

Things I didn’t liked:

  • Cats should not be left unsupervised with this toy.
  • If your cat eats the fabric, it might have constipation or similar health problems.
  • The stick could be a bit longer.
  • The price could be lower.
90
/100

Editor's Rating: 90/100 
Price: $18.97

If you are ready to spend a few more bucks and buy your kitten the whole castle of fun, go with Prosper Pet Cat Tunnel. Other than three tunnels, it has a built-in crinkle crackle paper to create sounds, the peephole in the middle and a bell toy. Tunnel walls are durable and tear-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about your cat’s new favorite toy getting destroyed after a few days. This might take up a larger area of your house than the other toys we presented, but you won’t regret any penny spent on it.
If you are an animal lover who owns not only cats but also dogs, rabbits or ferrets, this is the toy that will keep them all entertained. The construction is durable and safe, so it is ideal for your pet’s solo playtime. Also, the tunnel is collapsible and portable, which means you can store it easily or move it to other rooms, or even outside.
However, the toy might be a bit smaller than you expect. Bigger cats can play in it, but it is much more fun for kittens and smaller animals. Also, it is very lightweight so it can be tripped over during the playtime or moved around the floor. At last, crackling part is loud, which might be frightening for some cats.


Things I liked:

  • It is excellent for cats, dogs, and rabbits.
  • It is durable, collapsible and portable.
  • Three different tunnels match different cat personalities.
  • Even the bigger cats can use it

Things I didn’t liked:

  • It is a bit pricey.
  • It is a bit smaller than expected.
  • It is very lightweight.
  • It is very loud so that it might terrify some cats.


86
/100

Editor's Rating: 86/100 
Price: $9.15

If you want to build a whole fun-land for your cat, Catit’s Play Circuit is a good start. The company offers various additional tracks and accessories you could buy and build up this basic set. Once you do, you will have a whole cat entertainment town. This toy has a peek-a-boo track design that allows your cat to see and chase balls. For the money you invest, you will get a sturdy product with multiple layout possibilities, and colorful swirl patterned balls.
Catit Play Circuit is easy to assemble, even without any instructions. Also, it is surprisingly quiet, so even if your cat decides to use it overnight, it won’t wake up every person in the house. Different layout possibilities allow you to find the position that is the most beneficial for your kitten – circle arrangement is highly recommended.
Unfortunately, all of the additional tracks are sold separately, so if you want to offer your cat a high-quality, multipurpose toy, you will have to spend a lot of money on it. Also, even though product description suggests that the product comes with a flashing ball, it does not, which is a disappointment. At last, balls get stuck from time to time, which might disrupt your cat’s game.


Things I liked:

  • The assembly is easy and intuitive.
  • It is not too loud.
  • You can set it in few different arrangements.
  • It is made of sturdy, non-toxic plastic.
  • It is exciting and challenging.

Things I didn’t liked:

  • Additional tracks are sold separately.
  • It doesn’t come with the flashing ball.
  • The ball might get stuck from time to time.
  • Many cats lose interest after a short time.

My choice

The winner of our annual “The Best Cat Toys for Indoor Cats” competition is - Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy! The combination of the ball that runs through the tracks and cardboard scratcher offers a lot of fun, keeps your cat busy and active and saves your precious furniture from feline’s sharp claws. At the same time, it is just the right weight, sturdy, and the price is reasonable.
However, even though this is a toy we would recommend to any cat owner, you shouldn’t make any definitive judgments until your pet tries it out. Don’t be afraid to introduce new toys, until you find the one that pleases your beloved furry friend.

Meta description: If you want to make sure your cats are happy and healthy – buy them toys! Before you head out to the pet store check out the top 5 toys for indoor cats.

About the Author Happer Wilson

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