Three Types of Toys for Keeping Your Cat Healthy and Happy

The right cat toy can make for a terrific distraction, and keep your favorite feline fit and trim at the same time.

Kittens play with chase mouse toy
By nature, cats are playful pets, and the right toy can keep them entertained for hours.Pixabay

While most cats sleep much of their lives away, when they’re awake, they are often looking for a way to exercise their hunting instinct. Playing fills that niche for a while, and a good toy or two makes playing even more fun. The result is a healthier, happier cat that gets a physical workout without even trying. Cat toys, of course, come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Consider these three types of toys when choosing one for your favorite feline friend.

Manual Toys

Petstages Cat Tracks Cat Toy
This interactive manual cat toy is designed with three levels of tracks and three brightly colored moving balls for maximum visual stimulation.Petstages

Manual toys have a lot to offer a cat when it comes to play time. Consider the number of times you’ve likely been awakened in the night by the cat knocking a water bottle cap or other misplaced object across the floor, then chasing it to swat it again. The key to manual toys is finding something your cat will want to play with, and that’s not always easy. Most cats play because of their prey drive, and play not only provides exercise, but also relieves anxiety, stress, and boredom. Toys that move are very important for cats, whether the toys move on their own or the cat causes that movement. Since cats can see much quicker movement than humans can, toys that have erratic movement—especially random, erratic movement—generally appeal to them most.

Automatic Toys

Interactive Robotic Cat Toys
This automatic, interactive cat toy can even play with your cat when you are away from home.Ralthy

While often a little more expensive than manual toys, automatic toys offered by a number of different manufacturers can provide you cat with hours of play, thereby hours of healthy exercise and stress release. Again, movement is important, as cats chase and pounce on objects due to their inherited prey drive. So, a toy that just sits there is seldom going to be attractive to a cat unless it can swat the toy around to create movement. Automatic toys that make a sound often are better at getting a cat’s attention than those that are silent, since cats have a very good sense of hearing to go along with the keen eyesight. Some automatic toys can be programmed or even operated remotely, meaning your cat can continue to play even when you’re not there to participate.

Cat Trees

Go Pet Club 62-Inch Cat Tree
This tiered cat tree features two scratching posts, a suspended rope, and a cat hammock, providing plenty of places to play and lounge.Go Pet Club

An unoccupied cat is a bored cat, and a bored cat is a cat that is liable to become destructive, whether intentionally or unintentionally, especially when you are away from home. Cat trees give cats stimulation that they wouldn’t get just lying around all day. While they are made in all shapes and sizes, large cat trees with multiple levels, scratching posts and even hanging toys attached often catch a cat’s fancy better than small ones with fewer features. Cat trees placed by windows are particularly attractive to many felines, since resting on top of them will allow your cat to overlook its outdoor territory, as well as observe what’s going on indoors. Finally, for cats that feel more secure sleeping in enclosed spaces, a cat tree with one or more cubbies for privacy is likely to be more appealing.