You may think that cat toys are meaningless and pretty useless when it comes to the growth and development of cats, but you are wrong in this assumption.
A cat toy will help stimulate your cat’s mind. When young kittens are healthy enough to start playing and exploring their environments, toys help them to sharpen their motor skills and reaction times. Think of these toys as practice tools – if you ever have a problem with a bug or a rodent in the house, your cat will pounce like a pro if you give her plenty of things to play with in her downtime.
Also, toys help eliminate boredom in cats. It’s not healthy for a cat to sit around and do absolutely nothing all day. It could cause her to become obese and develop health problems over time. Your cat could also become depressed if you don’t give her activities and toys to occupy her mind.
The Psychology of Cats
You have to put yourself in your cat’s shoes when you’re thinking about what cat toys he or she will like. Pay attention to your cat – what piques his interest?
Maybe your cat likes to fight the other cats in your home. He might like a larger toy, like a stuffed doll or even a robotic cat that moves by itself. If your cat likes to peek around corners and play hide and go seek with you, buy a toy with a long pole and bells that will allow you to point it out around corners.
It’s important to remember that cats are hunters by nature. They like to be active, stalk their prey, pounce, and get the satisfaction that comes with the kill. They are extremely skilled and agile animals – you can tell this if you’ve ever seen a cat balance on a thin banister high in the air as if it is nothing at all. They constantly challenge themselves to run faster, jump higher, pounce quicker, and fight harder. Buy your kitty a toy that moves around, makes sounds, or dangles so that they will have something to attack.
Best Toys for Your Cat
The best toy to give a cat is one that will give it hours of enjoyment and increase the cat’s agility. Cats need exercise and activity to stay healthy, just like humans. It’s not going to be very helpful to give your cat a toy that she can lay on her back and chew at.
One popular toy is the moving mouse. This small motorized mouse darts around your house just like a real one. Some cats will be scared of the mouse at first, especially if it makes strange noises, but over time it becomes a great diversion. If you do buy one of these moving mouses, get one that is furry or made of a scratchable sisal material. Don’t be surprised if you wake up one day and that “mouse” is ripped to shreds.
Cats love just about anything that involves a string. There is just something about a dangling string that gets your cat’s heart pumping. You can buy string toys that are attached to a handle that you can hold as you wave the string in front of your cat’s face. If you don’t always have the time to dangle the string toy, buy a “string flinger” toy that does it automatically.
Anything with bells and sounds will make a good cat toy, because it will draw the immediate attention of your cat. If you buy a moveable toy and your cat doesn’t seem very interested, try putting it inside of a paper bag. The sound of the paper bag excites cats for some reason. That should help get her into attack mode.
Many humane organizations say that cat pointers, those little pen tools that presenters use to display a small red dot on a screen, are cruel “toys” to use on cats. This is because the cat can never actually grab and “kill” the light. This could potentially cause psychological problems in the cat. Most people who buy these pointers do it because they are too lazy to get up and physically play, or for their own personal amusement. The same thing is true for flashlights.
Any cat toy that is solely meant to make the owner laugh is probably cruel and unnecessary. If you want your cat to be happy and satisfied during and after playtime, avoid this toy.
Homemade Cat Toys
You don’t always have to break the bank on toys for your cat. Some cats will be perfectly happy with a homemade toy. A few suggestions:
- Tie a piece of yarn or a small stuffed animal to the end of a stick for a dangling toy. Your cat might also like the smell and taste of the wood from outdoors. Be sure that the string is secured to the stick. Many cat experts say that you shouldn’t give your cat string or unattached pieces of yarn because they might eat it and then throw up the evidence later.
- Pull the “curly Q” tab off of a jug of water and give it to your cat.
- Unravel your clothing iron and let the cord dangle. Run around the house with the cord dragging on the floor. You may be surprised at how your cats will give chase.
- Leave a deep, open cardboard box near your cat. They love to jump in and hide in these boxes, as well as scratch them up. Open paper bags from the grocery
store are also good for this purpose
- Roll up a piece of aluminum foil into a ball and throw it around your house
Some cats are extremely finicky and will turn their noses up at just about every toy you offer them. But you can make the toy more interesting when you become a part of the activity. Sometimes your cat only wants some attention and bonding time with you. So whatever toy you choose, make sure that you can be involved with playtime at least part of the time.
Having discovered a fondness for insects while pursuing her degree in Biology, Randi Jones was quite bugged to know that people usually dismissed these little creatures as “creepy-crawlies”.