Cats love to play, hunt, and have fun with their humans. Depending on the game, they’ll bat, pounce, chase, roll, rake, nuzzle, and purr. Sometimes all at once! You know a cat loves you when they playfully attack your clothes on the floor or follow you with friendly meows whenever you wake up or come home. But you know your kitty wants to play when they start batting at your hands, legs, or hair.
Everyone knows how to play with a cat using classic cat toys. There's the feather stick and the "fishing pole", the dingle ball, and the laser pointer. But today, modern techniques and technology have introduced some pretty awesome new ways to play with your cat.
If your cat is particularly smart or playful, clever new ways to play are always a plus. And today, we’re delighted to suggest some of the latest and greatest cat toys and our personal favorite new ways to play.
1) Make a Food Puzzle
Kitty food puzzles are an excellent enrichment for cats because they challenge your cat to figure out where treats are hidden – and you can make dozens of food puzzles out of everyday items so your cat will never get bored.
The simplest puzzle for treats is an egg carton with one or two treats placed in each cup. This will teach your cat that they're supposed to sniff and play with the box until they find all the treats. Next, try only putting treats in a few of the cups and challenge your cat to solve the simple puzzle.
From there, you can go wild. You can fill a cardboard tube, close the ends, and punch one or more treat-sized holes that will drop treats when the tube rolls. Cats love this one and will chase the treat dispenser all around the house. Or you can use a compartmented crate with holes or segments for your cat to figure out. The better you get at making treat puzzles, the better your cat will get at figuring them out!
There are also commercial food puzzles made of wood or plastic – and some of them can even be rebuilt and reset to become new puzzles over time. But a simple cardboard construction is often more than enough to keep even the cleverest cat interested and puzzling for hours at a time.
2) Up Your Laser Pointer Game
At this point, it’s common knowledge that cats go wild for the laser pointer, forever chasing that pesky unattainable dot. They especially love when you flick the laser around the edges of furniture as if it were a small woodland creature attempting to escape your cat's mighty hunting skills. You and your cat may never tire of the laser pointer, but new technology has introduced cool new ways to up your laser game.
An auto-laser cat toy can allow you to set down the laser while your cat chases the random movements of a laser pointed at the ground, actuated inside a ball-mount to wiggle like fun prey. In fact, it might even teach you how to play with your cat using a laser pointer if you’re new to the game. There are even some you can wirelessly take control of, so that you can play with your cat from across the room, across the house, or even while you're away. How sweet is that?
But the fun doesn't stop there. You don't actually need an automatic laser toy to fascinate your cat. A laser projector is also a fun cat toy, and your cat will watch the disco spinning laser lights wiggle on the floor for minutes or hours, depending on their fascination level and attention span.
Or, if you want to take charge of the laser game again, get yourself a second laser pointer and hold epic battles with a friend, partner, or roommate. If your cats are anything like ours, it’s the more the merrier!
3) Remote Control Mice
One of the earliest "high-tech" best cat toys was the wobble ball, a ball with a randomized gyroscope inside that wobbled and rolled. The balls often had a fuzzy plush tail to fascinate your cat and entertain them with random scurry-like movements. While the randomized raccoon ball may be a 30-year-old technology by now, motorized cat toys have become so much cooler today!
Among the best is the remote control mouse. This little Hotwheels-esque RC rodent is covered in an outer layer of plush with a little tail that looks like a mouse. But, you have complete control. Instead of running around with the feather stick, use a controller or even an app on your phone to direct the scurrying of your mousy little mechanical proxy.
Your cat will love chasing around “real” prey, guaranteed!
4) Blow Catnip Bubbles
Have you ever seen a cat chase bubbles? Bubbles are hardly new technology, but for most pet parents, they are definitely a new way to play. Non-toxic bubbles from the dollar store are tons of fun for cats who love to stretch, bat at, and "defeat" hundreds of bubbles. Every bubble you blow is a new floating opponent. Some cats will even climb and leap to get the floating escapees. Others will lie down and bat at the low-hanging bubbles nearby.
Of course, the best bubbles for a kitty are pet-formulated, all-natural catnip bubbles. They are non-toxic for your cat to bat and bite at, while helping your your kitty embrace their inner goofball. Catnip often makes cats feel extra silly and energetic, making playtime especially fun.
The scent of catnip is a delight to most cats. It will make the bubbles easier for your kitty to track through smell. If your cat is one of the 10% who doesn't care for catnip, look for seafood-scented bubbles instead. They will also help guide their nose to every delightful pop.
5) Phone Fishies
Our final favorite cat toy requires a phone or tablet. "Cat apps" is a trending type of smartphone app just for cats. These apps depict curiosity-piquing creatures such as swimming fish or scurrying woodland animals. Your cat can paw and interact with them on-screen. Not only are these apps fascinating, but sometimes they will successfully "catch" a fish off the screen. And if you've never seen a cat catch fish on your tablet, trust us. It’s a total rush!
We've found that phone fishies are especially useful for cats away from home. Waiting in the vet's office or traveling with the family are also great use-cases. You can even bond with your cat by playing phone fishies together. See what happens the first time you "catch" one of your kitty's phone fish with a fingertip. It turns out, your phone can be one of the best cat toys in your whole kit.
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