Whether you have an indoor or outdoor cat, we all know how much our furry friends love to play. Interactive cat toys are a great way of providing a fun way for you and your cat to play together. More than that though, they also provide your cat with mental and physical stimulation, allowing them to use those innate hunting instincts.
We reviewed dozens of interactive cat toys to identify the best of the best. We looked at features such as whether toys contained catnip, if they were battery-operated or manual, as well as if they provided an opportunity for your cat to ‘hunt’ for part of their diet. (If you’re looking for more ways to keep your favorite feline’s healthy diet in check, we’ve also reviewed the Best Automatic Cat Feeders and the Best Organic Cat Foods.)
The Petlinks Silly Chute Cat Tunnel Toy stood out as a clear winner thanks to how entertaining it is, as well as its innovative design and the rave reviews it has received.
The 5 Top-Rated Interactive Cat Toys
|Best Overall||Petlinks Silly Chute Cat Tunnel Toy||4.3|
|Runner Up||Petstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy||4.6|
|Best Budget Buy||SmartyKat Chickadee Chirp Electronic Bird-Sound Cat Toy||4.6|
|Best Treat Puzzle Toy||Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze & Puzzle Cat Toy||4.0|
|Best Laser Cat Toy||PetSafe Bolt Interactive Laser Cat Toy||4.0|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: Petlinks Silly Chute Cat Tunnel Toy
Petlinks Silly Chute Cat Tunnel Toy provides your cat with hours of fun with its simple but stimulating design. The tunnel, which can expand to 26″, combines both tactile and audio elements to ensure your cat is thoroughly entertained each time they enter it. By setting up an environment for your cat to independently play, this toy is designed to provide your cat with as a constructive outlet for them to unleash their natural instincts.
They’ll no doubt love the stimulation from the fringe and feathers in the tunnel, as well as its crackly surface. Cat parents will appreciate the fact that this toy is easy to set up as well as pack away. With a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon, from nearly 300 reviews, you can be confident that Petlinks Silly Chute Cat Tunnel Toy is a fun interactive cat toy which many cats just can’t get enough of.
Petlinks Silly Chute Cat Tunnel Toy Key Features:
- Expands to 26″
- Easy to set up and pack up
- Fun feather and fringe elements
- Crackly surface for audio stimulation
Our Runner Up Pick: Petstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy
Our Runner Up Pick goes to the Petstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy. This track toy combines three levels of circular tracks, each with its own brightly colored ball. This expert design is specifically intended to stimulate your cat’s instincts and encourages them to play.
The balls within this track are fixed in place thanks to the closed tracks, meaning no more hunting for lost cat toys under your furniture. This toy is perfect for encouraging your cat to play independently, but it also provides options for you to play with your cat by pushing the balls around the tracks. It’s also great for multiple cats to enjoy playing together.
While the center of this toy is open, there is a safety bar across the top track, to prevent over-enthusiastic cats from getting their heads stuck. The Petstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy has over 3,000 reviews on Amazon, with a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Petstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy Key Features:
- 3 levels of fun
- Provides mental and physical stimulation
- Closed top and non-slip base
- Brightly colored balls to attract cat’s attention
Best Budget Pick: SmartyKat Chickadee Chirp Electronic Bird-Sound Cat Toy
Have a spare $5? That’s all the SmartyKat Chickadee Chirp Electronic Bird-Sound Cat Toy will set you back. It’s an ideal choice for anyone who wants to ensure their cat is thoroughly entertained, but at the same time doesn’t want to spend too much on an interactive toy. If they’re anything like the other cats who have played with this oh-so-cute bird, they’ll find playing with it absolutely irresistible.
The SmartyKat Chickadee Chirp Electronic Bird-Sound Cat Toy is the definition of simple but effective design. Just try not to smile as your cat excitedly interacts with it as it lets out a sweet chirping sound when your cat touches it. Did we mention it’s stuffed with high-quality natural catnip? As an added bonus for parents, this toy is made to be both pet- and child-safe.
SmartyKat Chickadee Chirp Electronic Bird-Sound Cat Toy Key Features:
- Suitable for cats of all ages and sizes
- Touch-activated bird sounds
- Stuffed with catnip
- Pet- and child-safe
Best Treat Puzzle Toy: Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze & Puzzle Cat Toy
While the Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze & Puzzle Cat Toy may not look too flash, you’d be wrong to underestimate how entertaining it is for cats. Just check out the adorable (and hilarious!) photos customers have shared on Amazon of their cat playing with it. As you’ll see, cats can’t get enough of it! You can practically see their minds ticking as they strategize how to get the treats you drop into this innovative contraption. It’s no wonder this toy is award-winning and veterinarian-recommended.
With three levels (beginner, intermediate, and top cat) to test your cat’s smarts, you can customize this toy to best suit their needs. This interactive cat toy is designed to simultaneously provide them with mental stimulation and and encourage them to get moving. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly and safe for your cat to play with. It has over 4200 reviews on Amazon, the majority of which are positive. All of these features and benefits, combined with its very reasonable price tag, makes the Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze & Puzzle Cat Toy a fantastic toy for any kitty.
Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze & Puzzle Cat Toy Key Features:
- 3 levels
- Made from 30% recycled cardboard, and printed with certified metal-free inks
- Plastic parts made out of recycled plastic
Best Laser Cat Toy: PetSafe Bolt Interactive Laser Cat Toy
The PetSafe Bolt Interactive Laser Cat Toy is packed full of features that mean your cat will be kept entertained and exercised through healthy play. This well-designed, cat-safe laser toy uses random movements to maintain your cat’s attention. You can either choose to create your own light patterns for your cat to pounce at, or leave it on automatic mode while you’re busy with other tasks.
A great feature of this laser toy is that it has an automatic timer which shuts off after 15 minutes. This stops your cat from becoming overstimulated or overtired from playing for too long. With a 1-year warranty, this laser toy has received solid reviews on Amazon for its great design, automatic timer, and the fact it provides hands-free laser entertainment for your cat.
PetSafe Bolt Interactive Laser Cat Toy Key Features:
- Automatic cutoff after 15 minutes
- Automatic and manual modes
- One year warranty
Who Should Buy an Interactive Cat Toy
Any cat owner should definitely consider buying an interactive cat toy. Toys that allow your cat to chase or hunt pretend ‘prey’ will help them use all their senses, allowing them to feel satisfied and happy. Playing with your cat is also a great way of getting to know them better. Watching and helping them use their intelligence to solve puzzles or catch toys is a fabulous way to spend time with your furry friend.
Indoor cats will particularly benefit from interactive cats toys. Depending on the sort you choose, these will help your cat satisfy their natural instincts for hunting, foraging, scratching and playing. Interactive cat toys which dispense your cat’s food in small doses are a great option for keeping your cat active rather than eating too much food from a stationary bowl.
Important Features to Consider
When you’re selecting an interactive cat toy, there’s a few important features to consider to make sure you’re choosing the best toy which is suited to your individual cat.
- Battery operated or manual. If you work away from home during the week, or have an indoor cat that requires a lot of stimulation, then a battery operated interactive toy is a great choice. Many have an automatic on-off timer, so will come on as your cat initiates play and then turn off after a set period of time. Manual toys are great if you want to sit and play with your cat, for instance by encouraging them to play with a fabric wand or chase a ball.
- Containing catnip or catnip free. If your cat is particularly sensitive to catnip, then you may want to avoid toys that contain this herb, as your cat may become over-stimulated and a little too playfully aggressive as a result. The other side of the coin is that if catnip encourages your otherwise lazy indoor cat to get up and run around, then using a catnip toy can be a great way to ensure they get enough exercise.
- Feeder toys. Interactive toys which encourage your cat to naturally ‘hunt’ for their food are a great way to both increase the amount of exercise your cat gets as well as allowing them to play as they eat. This mimics the natural behavior of cats in the wild, which will prevent your cat feeling bored. Another benefit is that feeding this way helps control your cats weight by making sure they get enough exercise.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an interactive cat toy?
Interactive cat toys allow you to do just that – interact with your cat through play. There are a range of great benefits that these sort of toys bring. This includes encouraging your cat’s natural instincts for hunting, but in a safe environment. This is particularly important for indoor cats. Interactive toys aim to stimulate all your cats senses – touch, hearing, taste, sight and smell.
Another great benefit of some interactive toys is that they allow your cat to ‘hunt’ for their food, which can be released slowly as your cat plays with their toy. This is a very natural and satisfying way for your cat to eat. For cats who need a controlled diet, this is a great benefit. Last but not least, interactive toys allow you to bond with your cat while you watch them use their intelligence to problem solve.
Why do cats like laser pointers so much?
Laser pointers appeal to cats because their erratic movements can fool them into thinking its a form of real prey. Cats have a strong hunting instinct and chasing a moving target like a laser pointer can be a very satisfying game for them!
Are laser pointers really safe for cats?
There’s a couple of different points to cover here. Firstly, looking directly at laser beams can damage both your eyes, and those of your cats. So be careful to choose a toy that is within the safe range of 1 to 5 milliwats. Never point the laser directly in your cats face.
Secondly, because your cat will never really ‘catch’ the laser pointer, they never get the satisfaction of a successful hunt. Some cats won’t mind this and will continue to be entertained for hours. Others will become frustrated and decide that the game is no longer fun. We recommend ending your laser pointer play sessions by allowing your cat to ‘catch’ a toy mouse or ball, allowing your cat to feel the satisfaction of catching their prey.
Are toys with catnip safe for cats?
Catnip affects different cats in different ways. Some don’t appear to be affected by it at all, while others can end up anywhere along a scale from practically sedated to seriously hyperactive. Whatever reaction your cat has, once the effect wears off it takes approximately two hours before they will respond to catnip once more.
Catnip is veterinary-approved, so there’s no need to worry about using this treat. If your cat has a strong reaction to it though, you might want to limit playtime with catnip toys to prevent them becoming overstimulated.