A touch of fun in the cat’s starter kit – find out, fabCat, how to pick cat toys your feline will be happy with

Playtime is key to a cat’s happiness. Even the biggest couch potatoes like swatting a fly with their paw from time to time, catching a string that suddenly appears before them, or kicking a catnip toy’s butt. But as many cats there are in the world, there are just as many cat personalities and playing styles. After all, every cat is different in all aspects of life, including fun! And that’s why today, continuing with our Cat 101 series, let’s talk, fabCat, about how to choose cat toys for your cat’s starter kit, which ones to avoid, and how to care for them to make toys last with your cats for as long as possible.  

Toys for cats – a look through the classics and fabCat trends

We don’t have to convince anyone about the fact that a cat must play. Under the fluffy coat of fur sleeps a hunter born to run and whether it’s their life passion to nap on the scratcher or to supervise the neighborhood, hunting is always fun. However, every cat is different and they all have their own favorite style of playing, requiring various incentives to catch the toy. And what do we, cat Carers, get from that? An unlimited choice of cat toys and a neverending dilemma: will my cat like it? Let’s focus first on some classics among cat toys: 

  • Balls, toy mice, and small toys 

Cats like small targets so any type of toy mice, balls, or other small toys definitely fall into a category that will satisfy many felines. They’re perfect for solo play and playtime with the Carer, making for a must-have in any cat’s starter kit. Toy mice and balls could additionally have a small bell or a crisp paper inside for extra sound effects, as well as catnip or valerian, filling that will be loved by all cats who admire the magic herbs. 

  • Wand toys 

With feathers and strings, leather straps, and ribbons – a wand/feather toy is a staple that could be used in many different ways during assisted playtime. Thanks to the variety of “bait” that we can pick from, wand toys will be accepted by cats who like catching flying prey (a feather wand toy could resemble a flying bird), as well as those who prefer a slithering target (a wand toy with a string or leather straps is a hit!). The secret to a successful playtime with a wand toy is imitating the natural movements of an actual prey – we can’t simply stick the toy under the cat’s nose and expect them to play. Move it through the sheets, between pillows and blankets, hide behind the couch, and lead it to a high shelf your cat has to jump to. Let them engage all their senses in the hunt and play.  

  • Kicker toys

Not all playtime with a cat will follow a full hunting cycle, especially when we want to give the cat something to do while we work. And kicker toys are a great help here, letting the cats spend their energy on their favorite toy. Everyone knows the sight of a cat kicking a toy with their hind legs – it’s a natural element of play after a successful hunt. A good kicker toy should be durable and not fall apart after just one day in the cat’s paws, as well as big enough for the cat to hold with their front paws and kick with the back legs. If it’s filled with catnip,  it will have an extra WOW effect. It’s not a coincidence that myKotty has the one of its kind KungFu cat toy on offer, made specifically for the true masters of cat martial arts. 

  • “Smart” toys 

Here we’re placing all sorts of toys that require the cat to use their brains and figure out the riddle of the toy. The best example here is sniffing mats, snack balls, and puzzle toys where we can hide snacks for the cat to find. Accessories like that are a great alternative to a more dynamic playtime and are fantastic for cats who are older, less active, or only motivated by food. They fit well into almost any cat’s life – mental stimulation is a good form of playtime and if it’s challenging enough (not too hard, not too easy), cats will spend a good few minutes working things out, getting tired in the process. 

  • Laser pointers

Can you get any more classic than playing with your cat with a laser pointer? Don’t think so. But if we want to find a good place for a red dot in a cat’s toy box, we have to learn how to use it properly and not frustrate the cat. The chase after a red light alone is completely pointless – the cat can’t catch the light and finish their hunting cycle by biting and kicking its “prey”. If we get the laser pointer into play, we have to use other toys as well and make them the end point of the chase. After a short run around the house with the laser pointer you can put the red light onto your cat’s favorite mouse or kicker toy and let them play with a physical thing. And then it’s time for all the good things and snacks.  

Find out how to combat feline boredom: 

House equipment serves as a playground too 

When making a cat’s starter kit and looking for toys that should definitely get in there, we can’t forget the role that some household items have in a cat’s playtime. We can mention here things like tunnels, shelves that are part of a cat’s super highway, scratchers, and hideouts, like the MIA cat house, which works fantastically during solo playtime, playing with the Carer or with a cat buddy. Let’s remember that cats love hunting by surprising their target – sneak up on them from a tunnel or behind the couch, climb to the highest part of the house when the wand toy lands on a shelf, or finish off the playtime by scratching vigorously on their scratcher. An enriched environment gives a cat a full range of possibilities both during playtime and relaxation. Will a cat do without extra tunnels or shelves? Sure. But your furniture might get harmed in the process 🙂 

Which toys to avoid? 

Every experienced fabCat Carer knows that a good toy is one that the cat wants to play with. Even the highest quality, most expensive toys won’t work for a cat’s starter kit if their form, size, shape, or scent doesn’t draw the cat’s attention. This is why our basket of goodies should include various toys that we can use interchangeably – we don’t want our cat to get tired of their favorite toy and suddenly find ourselves empty-handed when a cat wants our attention!  

But there are toys we should definitely avoid. And those include: 

  • poor quality toys with loose elements that could be swallowed by the cat. It’s usually the cheapest toys with “eyes”, ribbons, and feathers that fall apart after one playtime session with the cat. 
  • loud toys. We’ve mentioned bells and crackling paper before and those are ok, but only if the cat accepts them. Not all felines like catching toys that are loud and let’s remember that what for us is just a tiny bell, from a cat’s perspective could be quite a loud noise. A good toy is one that doesn’t make the cat scared or unwilling to play.  
  • some interactive toys. It’s all fun when the cat can take care of themselves from time to time and play on their own, without the Carer’s input, but some “cat” toys were clearly made by people who know nothing about cats. The problematic ones include anything that’s strapped to the cat, like a mouse on a stick worn by the cat like a headband, a harness with laser light to chase around, or anything that the cat simply cannot catch. They’re nothing more than a source of frustration.  
  • “homemade” toys. And we’re not talking DIY here as it can be a wonderful way of bonding with the cat and making them the toys they truly love. What we mean with “homemade” here are all the tiny trinkets that a cat could find around the house and treat as toys – rubber bands, candy wrappers, ribbons, small plastic parts. Items like that often provide the cat with a lot of fun at the moment, but playtime like that should only ever happen under strict supervision. All it takes is a moment of inattention for the cat to swallow something they shouldn’t and get into a lot of trouble, requiring immediate vet assistance.

Catnip and other magic herbs

Okay, we know a lot about cat toys now but there’s still one question in the air: where in all that do we find space for catnip? Every fabCat knows that KungFu is the best cat toy. We can’t deny it – catnip, valerian, and silvervine can all make a cat go crazy and happy to play, even if the cat is a napping legend. Herbs work great in toys that are meant for solo time – they’re often added to small pillows, kicker toys, toy mice and balls and cats go crazy for them. But not all cats are reactive to catnip/valerian, some are stimulated by very specific mixes and others feel relaxed instead of energized when they smell them. To know how your cat reacts, you have to try first 🙂 

Remember: playing with catnip every day might make the scent less effective on the cat. Use the gadgets wisely and keep them sealed when they’re not used, just to keep them as fresh as possible. 

We talk more about why cats react so positively to catnip and other herbs here → https://blog.mykotty.pl/en/2020/12/07/the-magical-power-of-catnip-why-do-cats-go-crazy-over-it/ 

Keep the cat toys in good shape

To finish things off, we’ve got for you, fabCats, a handful of TIPs to keep your cat toys in the best condition: 

  • Keep them away from the cat – if the toys are always available, cats get bored of them easily as they stop seeing them as prey that showed up unexpectedly. 
  • Toys with magic herbs should be kept in zip-lock bags or other airtight containers to keep their scent. 
  • Soft toys should get a wash from time to time (except catnip toys if you can’t take the catnip out) and hard toys a good clean and scrub – it’s not just a matter of hygiene, but also a way of keeping the toys last longer.  
  • Don’t be afraid of DIY. It’s normal that toys get broken over time. But not all of them need to be immediately thrown out! Wand toys can get their feathers and strings reattached and some of the parts that fall off could be used in another way. What you need to throw out is any broken toys with sharp edges or elements that the cat could swallow.  

What toys do your cats like the best, fabCats? Let us know in the comments and join the discussion on our Facebook page  → https://www.facebook.com/myKottypl

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