Playtime is important for all cats–you get a chance to engage and bond with your cat, but it keeps them healthy and active. We love to spoil our cats, but not every toy is made for every cat. After years of buying toys for our cats, we’ve finally narrowed down our favorites.
Our top pick, the Cat Dancer – The Original Cat Toy, is a simple but durable toy that entices every kitty who likes trash and moving objects. The Snuggly Cat – Ripple Rug is our runner-up because the soft and customizable rug gave our cats their own space to scratch, play hide and seek, or just laze about during the day.
For cats who love catnip and kickers, the Patoroma – Flopping Fish is refillable and doubles as a moving kicker. The Petz Route – Kasha Kasha Dragonfly Wand is made for cats attracted to flying toys who love to hunt. If your cat prefers to chase and paw at small, colorful toys, then Spot Ethical – Colorful Springs are great because they’re inexpensive and come in a pack of 10.
Buying well-made toys that are strong enough to last multiple play times ends up saving you money in the long run and are potentially safer to use. While some toys are meant to be replaced after usage like cardboard scratchers, other types like kickers or wands must be durable enough to withstand pulling, biting, and tearing from your cat’s sharp teeth.
It’s great to have a variety of toys available for your cat to mix it up. Cats are notorious for getting over toys quickly–like toddlers–so it’s nice to change up playtime with different toys to entice them to move. Some cats prefer one type of toy over other varieties like wands or interactive toys, so it’s nice to test out new types.
No matter your budget, you can find a toy your cat likes and within your budget. Smaller toys like wands and springs can be under $10; electronic toys are often more expensive, with prices upwards of $20 and more.
How we selected
We selected over 15 types of toys that ranged in price from $3 to $50 to make sure we hit different price points for all cat owners. We also reviewed a variety of toys like interactive and electronic toys, wands, kickers, catnip fillers, and small-budget toys.
How we tested
We tested over 15 cat toys for several months with three cats of various ages and personalities:
Gob: A four-year-old ginger domestic short hair cat that loves to hunt his prey. His favorite thing is relaxing on his bed during the day and playing with feathered wands at night.
Bounce: A one-year-old gray, domestic short hair that is super playful and loves to eat. He’s got a lot of energy and can jump on the highest counters to reach his toys, like wands and anything with feathers. He loves chasing and playing hide and seek with mom and dad the most.
Marshmellow: A five-year-old calico, domestic short hair, an ex-street cat who loves to cuddle and play. She loves bringing her “fresh caught” play mouse to mom and dad every night. During the day she loves wrestling with her cat scratcher and being chased by her older brother Kit Kat.
Over several months, we tested various toys with these three cats, reviewed each toy’s durability compared to their price points, and analyzed if they were safe to use and any additional health benefits.
Cat Dancer - The Original Cat Toy
When we first opened the Cat Dancer – The Original Cat Toy, we were skeptical because it was just a long steel wire with some twisted cardboard pieces at the ends. We should’ve known it would be a hit because cats love trash. Our cats were immediately intrigued and chased it around the house immediately.
The steel wire is super durable and has a slight bend that helps the cardboard pieces move around like they’re dancing to help entice cats. At under $3, this toy has lasted quite a while and is super durable. Even though the cats chew the cardboard ends, they haven’t disintegrated in the four years we’ve had the Cat Dancer. This toy is one of the holy grail toys for any cat because it’s inexpensive to try and is made to last.
Snuggly Cat - Ripple Rug
If your cat loves to play cat and mouse or even likes a good hiding spot, we recommend Snuggly Cat’s – Ripple Rug. This 47 x 35-inch rug is an activity mat designed just for cats. It comprises two pieces: a plain base and a top rug with holes and velcro pieces on the bottom. The velcro can stick to any spot on the base carpet and create new shapes of tunnels or forts for cats.
We love the versatility of this rug because we know cats get bored quickly and easily over their toys. The option to change up tunnels and structures helps renew their interest. The carpet is durable enough for daily cat scratches and can be hand-washed with soap and water.Read more…
After years of Gob laying flat on top of it, we still have the option of revitalizing the carpet with a good hand wash and an iron. If your cat prefers a softer structure, Snuggly Cat also offers tips on softening the carpet. It comes in four colors and has a non-slip rubber underside to prevent slipping. At a little under $50, this may seem steep for what looks like a carpet with holes, but it’s one of our cats’ favorite toys.
Potaroma - Flopping Fish
The Potaroma – Flopping Fish is a versatile toy that is electronic and flaps its tail back and forth. While some cats like moving toys, others can be suspicious of this movement. What we liked about this toy is that you can turn it off and still use it as a kicker because of its elongated shape.
This toy also comes with a packet of catnip that helps stimulate cats in the hidden zipper. You also can add new catnip later on (we recommend wrapping some catnip in a perforated baggie or coffee filter, so it doesn’t get into the electronics). After much kicking and hugging on this toy, it held up well, and all the stitches stayed.
Petz Route - Kasha Kasha Dragonfly Wand
We are avid fans of Japanese cats on Youtube and instantly knew the cat toys in Japan looked like winners for our kitties at home. The Petz Route – Kasha Kasha Dragonfly wand was a strong winner in our household. It mimics how dragonflies and winged creatures move and really triggered our cat’s hunting instincts.
The Kasha Kasha wand is made with colorful translucent wings, a fuzzy pink body connected to 27 inches of strong polyester string, and a plastic wand. After testing dozens of wands throughout the years, we found the Kasha Kasha to mimic flying creatures the best because it was light enough to move around and rustled to lure the cats out to “hunt.”Read more…
After daily play, this toy held up well. While we liked that cats could catch and pick up the toy with the fuzzy dragonfly body with their mouths easily, you would need to watch over your cat carefully to make sure they don’t ingest the fuzzy pieces. We loved this toy so much that we’ve already re-ordered replacements.
Spot Ethical - Colorful Springs
Whenever our friends get a new cat, we always recommend Spot Ethical – Colorful Springs because they’re inexpensive and come in a pack of 10. These colorful springs attract the cats because they have bright colors and bounce on the floor when you throw them. Our cats surprisingly love to play fetch with them. They’re also very durable.
The only gripe we have with these toys is that they are easy to lose under our couch or anywhere else in the house that your cat might push these springs through. Every once in a while we’ll have to scour to find where they’ve all piled up. However, since they’re cheap at under $5 for 10 springs, you can repurchase them without too much worry.
We first came across the KittyWhip at the annual Cat Convention in Pasadena and were really interested in this simple but durable cat toy. This toy was invented by KittyWhipCatToys, and each toy is made by the hands of the owner, Samuel. We love that all the materials are made from 100% sustainable materials and are super durable for all types of kitty play.
This toy’s design improves traditional wand toys because it has a sturdy hickory handle, durable cotton or leather cords to entice your cat, and a smooth metal spring to reinforce the cord to the handle. We have the KittyWhip Cotton® and the KittyWhip Leather® wands. There are also larger and smaller sizes available depending on the size of your cat or how rough they like to play.Read more…
Our cat loves to play by hunting and tugging, and with the KittyWhip, he can tug or gnaw at the cords as hard as he wants, but they’ve lasted multiple months of play. Our only issue is that our cat drags his wand and the handle makes a loud noise when it hits the ground if he jumps from a higher surface, so we add rubber bands on the ends to prevent damage to our floors (and our ears).
Cat Dancer - Cat Charmer
The Cat Dancer – Cat Charmer is another great interactive toy from the same company as The Cat Dancer – The Original Cat Toy. Many cats like the Cat Charmer because of its long and colorful fleece fabric that moves like a cat’s prey–making it the perfect teaser wand. The rainbow fleece is easy on cats’ teeth and is strong enough that it doesn’t break from too much playtime pulling.
We liked the durable polycarbonate wand and the strongly bonded rubber collar that connects to the lightweight fleece. Cat Dancer states that the rubber collar is so durable that it can withstand up to 30 pounds of pulling weight–this means it won’t tear easily with rough play. We’ve tested the Cat Charmer for over three years, and it’s still intact. Our only gripe is that it’s sometimes so long that it knots at the ends, but you just need to untie it occasionally.
SmartyKat - Crackle Chute
The SmartyKat – Crackle Chute is one of our cats’ favorite toys because it’s a good place to play cat and mouse and also makes rustling sounds at the same time. The SmartyKat tunnel is collapsible and comes with three ties that keep it flat while not in use. If you want to expand the tunnel, you can also buy a second tunnel and attach the same ties.
There’s an opening in the middle of the tunnel to assist in hide and seek play too. We’ve had the SmartyKat – Crackle Chute for four years, and it still doesn’t have any damage. At just under $12, this double-lined crackle chute is durable and helps keep playtime engaging for cats.
BENTOPAL - Interactive Feather Toy
The Bentopal – Interactive Feather toy is on the mid to higher end of toys we tested at about $25. This electronic toy moves on its own with rubber wheels and carries a toy on one end to help lure cats into playing. There are two speed settings for playtime: regular and fast.
Unlike other electronic toys, the Bentopal is rechargeable via a USB port, so we didn’t need to find new batteries. It also comes with sensors to help detect physical obstacles that may hinder its movement. Although the cats we tested this toy with weren’t really impressed, other cat owners may have better luck. It also comes with a 30-day return policy just in case your cat doesn’t like it.
Flurff - Interactive Butterfly Toy
The Flurff – Interactive Butterfly toy is an interactive device with a triangular plastic base and a revolving butterfly toy at the end connected with a wire. Even though there’s not much movement happening, this toy still requires three AA batteries, which we didn’t love.
It comes with two replacement butterflies that just click in and out of place when you want to change them. This toy was popular with half of our cats who liked the erratic movement, while the others were spooked and cautious about playing. Due to the butterfly’s ribbon, we recommend supervising all cat play time with this device.
JXFUKAL - Cat Wand Toy
The JXFUKAL – Cat wand toy was surprisingly popular. This wooden and metal wand has stiff feathers and a wooden ball at the end. At first, we were curious about how fun this would be but quickly realized that moving it quickly made a whizzing sound that was irresistible for the cats. The quick waving of the wand also made the feathers spin fast, which the cats liked.
We liked the stiff feathers that prevented fraying, and liked the wooden ball to help the cat carry the toy after “hunting.” JXFUKAL also gives you two additional feather replacements. After three weeks of continuous play, the metal wire detached from the wooden handle, but this is easily fixed with some glue. This toy is a good option for interactive wand toys for under $15, however, like any wand toy, we would only use this under close supervision.
Ropetty - Refillable Catnip Cat Toy
The Ropetty – Catnip toy is great as a refillable catnip kicker. Both the brown otter and gray wolf Ropetty toys are soft, but the fabric is strong enough that it doesn’t tear when cats are biting or playing. There’s also a crinkling feature when the cats play with the toy that helps stimulate their senses.
We love that this ~$15 toy comes with a set of two for variety or if you have multiple cats at home. The velcro pocket to refill the catnip is also nice because there are no zippers to harm cats as they play. We recommend this toy if your fur baby likes catnip, crinkle toys, or wants something to kick or hug.
Dezi & Roo - Hide and Sneak Paper Tunnel
The Dezi & Roo – Hide and Sneak Paper Tunnel caters to cats’ favorite thing: trash. It’s the same idea as other collapsible tunnels, except it’s made of thicker paper bag material. With that being said, it feels like a glorified paper bag, and it quickly loses its shape once cats begin to pounce on top of it.
However, if your cat is gentle while playing and just wants a nice hideaway, this might be good for your cat household because it’s large enough for bigger cats to relax in, and it folds flat for storage. It’s made in the USA and made from eco-friendly compostable materials too. At $14, this price can feel a little steep, but it does look better than one we could construct at home.
Hartz - Just For Cats Midnight Crazies Toy Balls (not recommended)
The Hartz – Just For Cats Midnight Crazies toy balls are geared towards cats who love to chase or bat small, colorful, and noisy objects. However, they aren’t the most durable plastic balls because the plastic is fairly thin, and the edges of the shapes are sharp.
For $6, you get seven different colored balls with bells that jingle inside when you move them. Even though the plastic material is nice to have in case your cat drops their toy in their water bowl, there are multiple reviews where people say the balls split and the bell became a choking hazard. We would not recommend this toy due to its risk of breaking.
BEBOBLY - 3-in-1 Retractable Wand Toy (not recommended)
The Bebobly – 3-in-1 Retractable Wand toy left much to be desired. It’s made of low-quality plastic and metal that feels like it would break within a few days of playing. The retractable wand also does not stay at its desired length and keeps shortening or lengthening as you move it around.
The wand comes with three different toy attachments that are also low quality. The feathers of the toy attachments broke apart, and the ribbons pose a risk if cats end up ingesting them while playing. To use the laser, you need to add two double A batteries and the laser itself was fairly weak. For $16, we wouldn’t recommend this toy due to its low quality and potential hazards.
We had high hopes for the Migipaws – Automatic Whack-A-Mole toy, however, we were a little underwhelmed after testing it out on our cats. This toy is supposed to mimic your cat’s hide-and-seek interactive experience by revealing and hiding a colorful feathered toy through multiple openings.
A sensor is supposed to detect when a cat is around while the device is on and starts moving. However, there was a long delay before the box turned on, and sometimes it would never turn on. Often, the feathered toy wouldn’t come out far enough for some of the cats to see it.Read more…
We do like that this toy was rechargeable and didn’t require us to add our own batteries. We found some reviews stating that this toy broke down relatively fast. At over $30, we didn’t think this toy was worth the price.
SmartyKat - Hot Pursuit Cat Toy Concealed Motion Toy (not recommended)
While we liked the SmaryKat – Crackle Chute, we didn’t necessarily feel the same way about the SmartyKat – Hot Pursuit cat toy. This toy is designed to be a hide and seek device that keeps a blanket over a revolving wand toy.
When we first opened the package, we noticed that the concealing sheet didn’t completely cover the toy or lay flat because it was wavy. The wand underneath, therefore, never completely disappeared because the fabric kept pulling up when the toy revolved.Read more…
The wand and feather attachment also seemed a tad too short of providing a peek-a-boo experience for our cats. Often they played more with this toy when it was off than when it was on. The last thing we didn’t appreciate was the button on the top, which could easily be pressed by any cat that is enticed–we didn’t think this was necessarily safe to use because cats could turn it on and ingest feathers from the wand if unattended.
Petlinks - Plume Crazy Wand Toy (not recommended)
As soon as we took this out of the packaging, the Petlinks – Plume Crazy want toy immediately started to shed. While our cats liked this fluffy and soft wand, we didn’t like all the toy remnants over the floor.
Even though it came at a super low price, we didn’t think wasting over $3 on this toy was worth it because it made a mess and could pose a potential danger to cats who eat the feathers from the wand or on the floor.
Petstages - Butterfly Chase Cat Toy (not recommended)
Just like the Kasha Kasha dragonfly wand, our cats loved this butterfly wand because it moved similarly to real winged creatures. The Petstages – Butterfly Chase cat toy is made from a plastic wand, thin wire, and translucent, realistic plastic wings to mimic a butterfly.
One of the issues we had with this wand was the quality. Playing with this toy was a bit confusing initially because the wire wasn’t as thick as the Cat Dancer and would bend easily, making movements unnatural. The realistic wings helped entice the cats, but it was difficult for them to pick up with their mouths because the plastic was hard.Read more…
Eventually, we retired this wand because we noticed the wire poking through the wings at the joint. Due to this quality, we wouldn’t recommend this product because it isn’t safe.
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Bryan Vu, Editor
Bryan is our cooking and kitchen expert, with more than 15 years of experience of cooking and testing kitchen products. When outside of the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, photography, videography and figuring out how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. He thoroughly enjoys discovering the best, whether it’s ingredients or equipment, and finding products that can stand the rigors of daily use.