When we think of cats, we tend to think of lazy, sleepy animals, that lounge anywhere they want to and claim every single piece of furniture for themselves. While that may be true, cats can also be extremely energetic and hyperactive. And just like other domesticated animals, cats need to stay active by engaging in play, using toys.
So how can you, as a pet owner, help your kitten avoid getting lazy and stay active? Well, you can start out by using toys! These are products that have been specially designed keeping a cat’s behavior and interests in mind.
#1- Scratching Posts
If you are a cat owner, you must already be aware of your cat’s scratching tendencies. Cats scratch as part of their everyday activities, such as play, marking their territory, or even when they stretch after a long nap. Why do they do this? Well, scratching helps cats get rid of older and worn-down claws, and helps them develop sharper ones instead.
You can use toys such as scratch posts, scratching pads, and even furniture lined with scratchable material for your cat to wear down to their heart’s desire. Not only do these give your cats something fun to do, they can also be used to reduce scratching of furniture and curtains.
Another way to capture your kitten’s attention is using balls. Usually, these cat toys are brightly colored or contain something to attract your cat’s interests. This can mean either that is laced with catnip, contains a whistle or something else that produces a sound, or has a feather attached that will drive your kitten crazy.
Sometimes, the toy can be disguised to look like an animal the cat would normally hunt, such as a mouse or small critter, or has a ‘squeaking’ sound to help convince your cat to use its predatory senses.
#3- Catnip toys
In addition to having toys that engage your cat’s senses, you can also use catnip-based toys. These toys are designed in such a way that they have catnip laced over them. This means that every single time your cat plays with them, he or she gets some catnip as well. This encourages a lot of activity, and you’ll usually see your cat being very active for a short burst of time, and then coming back to their regular self as the effect of the catnip wears down.
#4- Chew toys
If your cat has a habit of chewing on whatever they can find, or if you are caring for a kitten going through its teething stage, you can also find chew toys for your cat. These toys will help your cat understand that it can only chew on the “allowed” object, and it will help a teething kitten develop its teeth in a healthy, normal way. Although chew toys are rarely made for cats, they can easily be found at pet shops and may even be laced with catnip to encourage the behavior.
#5- Chaser toys
Chaser toys are built, like the others, to engage your cat in the best way possible. The toy is built in such a way that there is often something to be chased, such as a ball or a mouse, and is circular in shape.
The object that needs to be chased then moves around and around while the cat tries to catch it. This can be helpful for your cat especially if it feels the need to hunt and catch prey, such as with outdoor and stray cats.
#6- Laser Pointers
For a natural hunter like the cat, it is obvious that a red dot just out of reach can become a source of joy for hours and hours. The experience of using these pointers can be a great bonding experience for you and your cat, but it may have its drawbacks too.
For one, shining it into your cat’s eyes can cause damage. Next, you have to make sure the cat gets some degree of reward from the play. You can do this by either providing treats or by using other toys to mix in with this toy. You can point it at a toy and let a cat catch it in order to give it the satisfaction of having ‘caught’ its prey every once in awhile.
#7- Wand Toys
Wand toys are usually toys that include a ‘stick’ and some kind of interactive toy at the end, tied to a string. This can include one kind of toy, most commonly a feather, or multiple types of toys, such as balls, strings, and feathers.
The object they are attached to is usually referred to as the ‘teaser’ and it can simulate the cat’s predator-like reflexes. For example, a mouse toy attached to it makes the cat feel like a hunter. This great toy can also help improve the cat-human bond because it needs the owner to engage with the cat during play time.
For outdoor cats, a common prey that helps them their hunting skills sharp is mice. Unless you want to give your cats access to that and bring home dead mice, you’ll have to improvise. The good news is, you can make your cat feel like it is hunting mice by introducing it to mice toys. These are toys that look like mice and are usually made out of soft material so your cat can chase them, bite into them, and play with them without creating a mess.
If your kitten isn’t easily interested, you can also look for automated mice. Usually, these contain ‘wind-up’ technology and so move around on their own. Because of this, the cat actually feels like there’s a mouse around and doesn’t have to throw it around on its own.
For curious cats, a great addition to their collection of toys can be tunnels – these are products that are what the name suggests – a simple tunnel. The opening of the tunnel is big enough so your cat will want to go inside and see what’s going on.
This can be great for curious kittens as they want to make sure that they know every nook and cranny of the house, and will be astonished to see that they’ve moved from point A all the way to point B all through the tunnel.