Toys For Cats

Toys For Cats
Cats love toys! It is in the nature of cats to be hunters. So cats are always seeking ways to refine their hunting skills, often through play.

Cats are also very curious, so anything new is a new reason to explore, usually to see if your cat can make play out of it. Even an empty bag will invite a cat into exploration, sometimes with fatal results if it is a plastic bag. Therefore, care must always be exercised around cats.

They, like young children, do not think or even realize there are dangers. Cats believe that what we leave around must be for their total enjoyment and is safe, otherwise..."why would you leave it out for me!"

Cats enjoy the most simple of toys the best. Anything that makes noise when played with or can be pounced on make great toys. Especially involving movement of any kind.

A variety of toys, given sporadically, then hidden for awhile so they don't lose their novelty is a MUST for indoor cats. Toys don't have to be expensive, either. Most cats love to chase wadded up aluminum foil, and chomp on plastic drinking straws. You can try hiding your cat's favorite toys before you leave in the morning, and create a sort of "treasure hunt" for him, which will engage his love of the hunt. (Make sure he sees you hiding at least a few of the toys!!) A special new toy with fresh catnip will often keep your cat entertained for hours - be aware that most catnip sold in pet stores is old and does not have the freshness needed for most cats to truly have a reaction to it.

Cat eyes are tuned towards movement. The slightest movement and here comes kitty. Cats prefer toys much smaller than themselves. This can also get cats in trouble, as they can swallow toys or parts that are too small. Some of these can cause permanent damage to a cats digestive track or other soft tissue.

Many cats also enjoy climbing in and out of small cardboard boxes. If you have a small stuffed animal you are willing to sacrifice, especially one with legs and a tail, you just might find your cat adopting it and mothering it!! A good rule of thumb with toys is to always have a toy for "babying", a toy for "killing or stalking" and a toy for "carrying" at any one time, rotating them for variety, of course.

Below are cat toys, most you can make, some very simple and some you probably already know.

You don't have to spend a fortune on toys, just leave a few around for kitty to play with and then rotate with another set of cat toys when kitty becomes bored of them.

                                                                   Cat Toys Classification
Paper cat toysAnything to do with non-dyed paper. A balled up sheet of paper is a favorite. Just ball it up and throw it across the room, then watch kitty fly. When kitty is done, leave it lying around and kitty will swat it around later. A paper grocery bag, NOT PLASTIC, is a great toy. Just leave one sitting around in a room. Kitty will eventually play with it. If you can not find your cat, check the bag, cats like sleeping in bags. Do not ever kick a empty bag without first checking it for kitty!
String cat toysHere is an all time favorite for cats. Anything to do with a string or long piece of yarn. Do not use nylon or fishing type lines as they can cut a cats soft tissue. Lay out a string and twitch or slowly pull it towards you. Cat will go nuts. Hang it on a doorknob and kitty will have something to play with when you're gone. Sometimes tying a small cloth object or a stick to the string and then hanging from the door is a great "swat" fun toy for your cat. Another cool idea is to tie a long piece of yarn to a very limber thin stick or rod, that way you can play "cat fishing" with your cat.
Stuffed cloth toysA cloth stuffed mouse or any small stuffed cloth toy is excellent with cats. Beware of some import cloth toys may have an insecticide sprayed on them that can harm a cat. This is required by some importer laws, so check them carefully. Also make sure there are no pieces that kitty can swallow. Usually a plain "rag" doll type of toy works best. Nothing fancy, no eyes or buttons. The softer, the better. Kitties like to bat them around and sometimes the toy will even become personal to the cat, like a young child's security blanket is to them.
Noise maker toysAnother cat favorite. Not too much noise though, or kitty will be scared. Usually something like an old film canister with a little pebble or a penny inside makes a great cat toy. Anything plastic that has a top that can be securely fastened will work fine. For the rattle, do not use dry cat food, as this will make the cat try and open the toy to get the food. The plastic pieces can hurt your cats digestive track.
Plastic ball toysOne of kitties favorite toys are "ping pong" balls. They are cheap entertainment for your cat. The plain old white ones work the best. They make a lot of noise skipping across the kitchen floor as the cat swats them around. Watching a cat swat a ping pong ball really illustrates how accurate cat swats can be. They come in packs of many, so you can leave a couple in each room. Rubber balls are good but you must make sure the rubber gives off no bitter taste. Place your tongue, after cleaning ball of course, to the ball and if you taste any bitterness or tartness, the ball is not safe for kitty. Also make sure the ball can not be swallowed by the cat. It should be the size of a ping pong ball or larger. Do not use balls or toys containing any type of glitter or liquid inside or on the outside the toy. Little bells are OK.
Cardboard toysOld toilet paper rolls are great cat toys. Cats can swat them around and pounce on them. When the cat begins to tear the cardboard apart, just throw away and replace with another one as you finish with the paper part. Very cheap and a house full of kids always have an endless supply.
Metal ToysOnly use non-painted toys that your cat can not swallow. Small capped, smooth canisters can make excellent toys for cats to swat around. Painted toys can be fatal to cats.
Old socksBelieve it or not, an old white sock is a great toy for cats. Just tie the sock into a knot and leave around the house.
Scratching posts
(as toys)
A cat scratches at things not only for play, but to strengthen its "grip" and other muscles. It is natural for cats to scratch and a cat "cannot" be made not to scratch. Even de-clawed cats will attempt to scratch and claw objects. Teaching your cat to use a scratching post can save many pieces of furniture.

A good tall cat stand with a variety of scratching surfaces will also increase your cat's sense of "territory", and will greatly add to his quality of life. And, setting up little perches or hammocks at your windows will also increase the variety your cat will be able to observe of the outdoors, which will also keep him entertained and content.

Scratching posts may be bought or home made. To make one, just attach a piece of carpet around a piece of non-treated wood. The "carpet" side goes against the wood, and the underside is what the cat will scratch on. You can attach that to a flat base. You can also just attach a piece of carpet to wall in the same manner. It should be high enough to allow your cat to extend it's body while scratching. Another idea is to place a wicker type of planter in the room, like the ones holding fake trees. That way, you have a tree and a scratching post all in one!
Ribbon toys
BEWARE : No ribbon should ever be used as cat toys. These can be shredded by you cat and can have serious effects to your cats digestive track and can be fatal. This includes any ribbons attached to cat toys as well as ribbons used for Christmas or other gifts. Easter grass is a ribbon also. All ribbons should be cut off any cat toy having them. Ribbons are not safe for cat play.
Light toysCats love chasing a light beam across the floor of a darkened room. A pen light works great. Really, any small flash light with a focusing beam of light works well. Even a reflection on the floor from another light source. Cats will chase all over the place.

For people using a laser pointer as a light source, BEWARE, a laser pointer is a very powerful source of light and can do tremendous damage to a cats very sensitive eye. Cats eyes amplify light for night viewing, so the laser is much more powerful to them. Even the laser reflection off shinny floor tile can cause eye damage. Lasers should not be used for cat toys. Do not let children use laser pointers to play with your cat! Children do NOT understand what "Forever" means when it comes to permanent damage to your cats vision. It only takes a direct hit on the eye for a second or two and permanent damage WILL occur. Don't chance it!
Videos and TVMost cats do watch TV. They just don't like most people shows. Give them what they like, and you might have to buy yourself another TV so you can watch what you want.
Cats love watching birds flying or bugs chasing on screen.

There are some motorized toys that are lots of fun, as long as you don't overdo them. These toys will often have a fur tail or look like a small mouse or rodent, but move erratically, just like a real "prey" would in the wild. This can really get your cat excited and involved in the process of trying to "catch" this unusual prey. Another fun and inexpensive thing to do is to build a "maze" out of paper grocery bags (remove any handles, of course, and use tape rather than staples for safety).

There are also a number of excellent wand toys available, which are not to be left alone with your kitty, but which are to be used interactively, with you playing with your cat. Playing with your cat in this way especially before bedtime, can be enjoyable for both of you and help your nocturnal hunter to actually settle down and sleep at night!!

And lastly, a word of warning about toys - be sure to kitty-proof your home from items that a cat may find enticing, but which are actually harmful to him, such as paper clips, rubber bands, feathers, strings, or any other small items which could be ingested by your kitty. And for the soft toys, be sure they are labeled as safe for children under 3 years old as that way you'll know they don't contain harmful fillings. Remember that your domestic feline is genetically still very closely related to his and her wild ancestors. While it is our responsibility to keep our pet kittens and cats safe and indoors, we need to respect the need for this fantastic creature to use their natural instincts to stalk, hunt, meet challenges, explore their territory - in short, to be a healthy, happy and active cat!!