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Choosing the Right Toys for Your Cat: My 12 Tips

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

When it comes to solo playtime, there are toys meant to simply be batted around, stalked, pounced on, carried and even nibbled on. There are also reward-based toys that provide the cat with a treat for a job well done. Food-dispensing toys are very popular now and easy to find. These toys provide activity for your cat and a mini-meal at the same time. Some food-dispensing toys require a little training to help your cat get the idea but it shouldn’t take long before he figures out that solving the “puzzle” will result in a tasty reward.

In addition to food-dispensing toys there are also puzzle toys that reward the cat with a little toy for his work.

3. How the Cat Toy Moves

Cats are hunters so when it comes to toy appeal, its movements need to resemble that of prey. Even though your cat gets top quality nutrition and his daily existence doesn’t depend on being able to actually capture a meal, his play technique still is based on hunting. Cats want to stalk, chase, pounce and ultimately capture their treasure. Does the toy resemble prey either in its appearance, size, shape or movement? Will the cat be able to bat at it, pick it up in his mouth or pounce on it comfortably?

Photo: Fotolia

Photo: Fotolia

When it comes to resembling prey, much will depend on the way it moves when the cat pounces or swats it. Does the toy easily skitter across the floor, allowing for a fun chase? Or, if using an interactive toy, can you mimic the movement of prey by how you drag it along the ground or flip it in the air? Much of an interactive toy’s success depends on how enticing you make your moves.

Offer a variety of movements to keep your cat enticed. Even if the toy is meant to be waved in the air to mimic a bird, do some on-the-ground movements. Experiment with your movements to see which toys work best in different environments. One toy may be most irresistible on the floor and not as appealing on carpet.

4. Size of the Cat Toy

In addition to being predators, cats are also prey because of their size. When shopping for cat toys, keep that in mind so you don’t end up getting a toy that’s really too large for your individual pet. If the toy is too big, your cat may view it as an opponent and the play session may turn into more of a battle.

5. Sound

I’ve had many clients show me these large, motorized toys purchased for their cats but when they set them up, most of the cats become scared. If you choose a motorized toy, make sure it doesn’t make a whiney sound that ends up being disturbing to your cat. The typical prey sounds are little squeaks and ultrasonic sounds. A cat’s hearing is extremely sensitive.