Any cat owner will know that play is essential for a happy, healthy cat (and for keeping your furniture intact). No one wants to come home to shredded curtains and spilt cat litter, so keeping your pet mentally stimulated is a must. From scratching posts to laser lights, cat toys come in all shapes and sizes, but which toys are really the best for your pet?
We spoke to animal expert Caroline Clark to get her to take on what makes the best cat toys. Caroline offered her advice on what to look out for (and what to avoid) when shopping for cat toys, as well as some product recommendations – you can read her expert advice in full at the bottom of this page.
We took Caroline’s expertise and brought together our top picks of the best cat toys for every pet and every budget.
The best cat toys at a glance:
- Best cat toy with a bed: Amazon Basics Cat Condo Tree Tower
- Best cat toy for independent play: Vealind Pet Interactive Fun Roller Exerciser
- Best feeder toy: Petstages Interactive Cat Treat Puzzle
- Best cat toy set: WeFine Cat Toys
- Best catnip toys: Bojafa Cat Catnip Toys
- Best digital cat toy: IOKHEIRA Interactive Cat Toy Ball
- Best cat tree: COZY PET Deluxe Multi-Level Cat Tree
- Best laser cat toy: PetSafe Bolt Laser Light Cat Toy
The best cat toys
Best with bed: Amazon Basics Cat Condo Tree Tower
Rest and play
This cat tree delivers on our cat expert’s recommendation of levels while also offering interactive feathered toys.
It features an elevated hammock bed with two supporting scratching pillars. This product also features a detachable feathered hanging toy that lends itself well to both interactive and independent play.
Best for independent play: Vealind Pet Interactive Fun Roller Exerciser
This three-tiered toy features brightly coloured balls that roll around tracks for safe and stimulating play.
This cat toy is made with high-quality ABS plastic with no sharp edges for added safety. This toy is also made with a convenient wipe-clean design for easy maintenance.
Best feeder toy: Petstages Interactive Cat Treat Puzzle
This cat toy speaks to our expert’s recommendation of feeder toys that allow you to increase the difficulty in line with your pet’s needs.
This puzzle toy is made with eco-friendly material and features 16 hidden treat compartments made to stimulate your cat’s natural foraging instinct. This toy has no loose or removable parts for optimal safety.
Best toy set: WeFine Cat Toys
Value for money
This cat toy set features a range of cat toys that are sure to keep your cat busy, all with an affordable price tag.
This set features a tunnel that will appeal to your cat’s sense of safety, as recommended by our expert. This set also features a variety of feathered toys and balls for interactive play.
Best catnip toys: Bojafa Cat Catnip Toys
These catnip toys are made from durable cotton fabric and naturally grown catnip.
These toys come in a set of 3 and are made with high-quality materials. These toys also work to improve dental health by exfoliating and cleaning the teeth.
Best digital cat toy: IOKHEIRA Interactive Cat Toy Ball
To keep them interested
This cat toy offers an automatic solution to playtime with a digitalised design that promises to keep your pet interested.
This USB chargeable ball features an automated design that rolls independently and changes direction after hitting an obstacle. This ball also features an LED light to catch your cat’s attention and switches off automatically after 40 minutes.
Best cat tree: COZY PET Deluxe Multi-Level Cat Tree
This cat tree features multiple scratching posts and varying levels, as recommended by our animal expert.
It features concealed sleeping areas to help your cat feel secure, as well as suspended, feathered toys for engaging play. This bed is available in varying designs and colourways.
Best laser toy: PetSafe Bolt Laser Light Cat Toy
This laser light cat toy has an adjustable mirror allowing you to tailor the direction of the laser light away from your pet’s eyes, ensuring optimal safety.
It features two automatic play modes and is perfect for both independent and interactive play. This toy turns off automatically after 15 minutes for optimal battery life.
Caroline Clark is a certified animal behaviourist and registered veterinary nurse with over 30 years of experience in the industry. Caroline favours a holistic approach in her work when diagnosing, treating and managing conditions and emphasises the importance of positive reinforcement in the well-being of companion animals. Caroline has previously shared her expert opinion with us, giving us her take on the best cat litter and cat litter trays, as well as the best dog treats.
What should you look for when buying cat toys?
When asked what to look for when shopping for cat toys, Caroline told us, “choosing something that doesn’t encourage a cat to scratch or bite its hands is important. Cat rods or wands with feathers on the end are popular, as are fur-lined toys that make a noise as they mimic small prey”.
Caroline emphasised that “cats are inquisitive, but they also like to feel safe” and told us, “a cardboard box or cat tower can be a retreat as well as acting as somewhere to play and climb on. Food hidden inside can create interest”.
Consider the structure of larger toys, as Caroline told us, “most cats like raised locations so they can see what is going on around them. Cat trees with toys and scratch posts attached encourage physical exercise”.
Caroline also stresses the importance of independent play for cats telling us “this prevents a cat from becoming too dependent on you – it’s not only dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. Interactive puzzle feeder toys and wind-up toys that move can bridge this gap”.
Catnip toys are also something to consider. However, Caroline told us that we should “be aware that catnip can cause some cats to become more highly charged. So make sure it doesn’t have any unwanted effects on their behaviour”.
What should you avoid when looking for cat toys?
We asked Caroline what was best to avoid when purchasing cat toys, and she was quick to touch on the importance of safety when shopping for your pet, telling us to “make sure toys are safe and robust” and to “check that there are no loose parts that can be ingested or wedged in your cat’s airway”.
She also advised against buying “food puzzle toys that are too difficult to get the food out of” and instead suggested we “look for ones that you can increase the level of difficulty (e.g. food holes that can be altered, so they are larger, to begin with so food drops out more easily). If your cat can’t access the food, they will get bored and may become frustrated”.
Caroline also mentioned laser toys telling us that they “can be popular, but you need to be especially careful. If you do use them, it’s really important not to shine them in their eyes, and because the cat never actually catches the beam of light – they can become frustrated. Therefore, at the end of the game, it’s best to provide a food item or throw down a toy, so they get to make the final ‘kill”.
She also advises against toys that “involve hands getting in the way – this could lead to scratches and bites” and stresses the importance of giving your cat “some choice and control about whether they’d actually like to engage with you or not. Never force them to play as this can lead to anxiety”.
Which are the best cat toys?
In terms of specific toy recommendations, Caroline told us “feather, fur-lined toys and food puzzle toys can be mentally enriching” as “cats are a species designed to work at getting their food by hunting for prey” and “In the wild, [cats] would have used physical exercise and many of its senses to catch their meals”. Caroline also tells us to “choose types of toy that your cat favours the most. Do your own preference test to see what works best”.
Want to read more expert-recommended pet product round-ups? Check out our Pets page for a full list of recommendations, including our list of the best cat litter and the best cat litter trays, as recommended by cat experts, as well as the best pet cameras for keeping an eye on your animal.