Cats are finicky. Get them the best cat toys money can buy, and they’ll sleep in the box they came in. (I don’t think you can reach crazy cat lover status without spending at least $100 on stuff your cat has never glanced at.)
But there are a few toys that hardly any cats can resist, and every properly pampered cat should have them.
As a veterinarian and long-time cat owner, I’ve tried just about every cat toy there is. These are the ones I can recommend over and over again.
I can’t promise they’ll work for your cat, but I can promise that these are the best cat toys—they make most cats happy.
And the Winners Are…
1. Da Bird
Da Bird (It’s DA BEST!)
Many have tried to imitate this feather on a stick, and many have failed.
I’ve tried multiple cheap knockoffs, but I keep coming back to the real deal. Da one, da only, Da Bird.
The trick is in the construction, which uses a spinning clip like you’d find on a fishing lure, combined with realistically arranged feathers.
The result is irresistible spinning goodness that almost all cats find hard to resist.
This is a great choice for all cats, and especially those who need a workout.
Go Cat, the company that makes this, has several other really cool prey-like toys.
Most irresistible toy for all cats
Doesn’t last long
String can get tangled
Can be pricier than similar toys
Cat Dancer Original
The Cat Dancer is deceptively simple, but oh so irresistible. It’s just a few pieces of rolled paper on a wire, but it can tempt even the most couch potato-ey of cats.
The key to its awesomeness is its erratic movement, which mimics what a bug would do in real life.
Pro tip: one thing cats HATE when they’re playing with their human friends is predictability. If you just flip a string back and forth, that may amuse a cat for a while, but most are going to tire of it pretty quickly. Mix it up to make it more interesting.
That’s where this toy rules—it does the erratic part for you, so you don’t need to expend any brainpower to captivate your kitty.
The original version just has the toy; you can also get it with a wall mount for hands off play.
Irresistible to most cats
Comes with or without wall mount
Are there any?
Yeowww! Catnip Banana
There are all kinds of catnip toys on the market but Yeowww! Catnip Toys are my favorite by far.
I think they put unicorn fairy dust inside them, because the catnip in these seems to be more irresistible than the catnip in other toys. And it’s organic!
The durable denim fabric is crammed full of catnip, so it makes for great gnawing and bunny kicking.
And there are all sorts of fun options, from bananas to fish to cigars.
Catnip-heads love them
High quality organic catnip
Not all cats like catnip
Can be more expensive than other nip
Who can resist the red dot?
Most cats are pretty easily entertained by a laser pointer, and nowadays you can get an automatic laser pointer, such as the PetSafe Bolt, so your kitty can entertain themselves while you’re out.
The random movement makes it especially fun.
Pro tip: Don’t stress about it shining into kitty’s eyes—kitty would have to stare straight into the laser for several seconds for it to do any damage, but kitty isn’t going to do that because the light is way too bright to look at for more than a millisecond.
Entertains most cats
Hands off for the human
Lasts a long time
Might scare you in the dark
Smokey’s Stash Mice Toys
There are lots of mouse shaped toys for cats, but the type that really appeals to most cats is made with rabbit fur, with a real fur tail.
The best kind have little pebbles inside to make them rattle, like these from Smokey’s Stash.
With the fur, it’s kinda similar to a freshly killed mouse.
If the rabbit fur doesn’t appeal to you, your cat may be okay with the fake fur kind, but by and large I’ve found that most cats like the real thing.
Cats love the real fur
Mimics real prey
Real fur may not be humanely raised
Don’t let kitty eat the plastic part
Doesn’t last long
Rainbow Cat Charmer
The Rainbow Cat Charmer is basically a fleece string on a stick, which seems kind of useless at first… why not just get a string?
Because, my friend, the stick is what makes the movement so intriguing.
The stick allows you to flick the fabric just so, and the movements are much more interesting than a plain piece of string.
Most cats like gnawing on the soft texture, too.
Most cats love it
More human effort required
Stretches out over time
Can get tied in knots
PAWZ Road Cat Tunnel
What’s another name for a cardboard box?
A cat trap.
Cats love to crawl into cave-like spaces, so tunnels like this one from PAWZ Road are a lot of fun.
This one’s a little bigger than most, so it’s good for adults and larger cats.
Pro tip: Try moving this to different locations, and putting it away for a few days at a time. That’s actually ideal for ALL cat toys—cats crave novelty when playing, and one way to provide that is to mix up their toy choices.
Entertains most cats
Might require more interaction to seal the deal
Not the most durable
May be too small for chonks
Meow Sir Cat Tree
Although this isn’t a toy, per se, a floor-to-ceiling cat tree can provide hours of entertainment and exercise, and isn’t that the point of a toy?
The added bonus is that it increases your cat’s real estate: if you have multiple cats or a small house, this can help kitty feel like there’s more room by giving them more places to lounge, scratch, and play.
Meow Sir makes several cat towers to fit with most decor. They install using tension—no tools required!
Doubles as a scratching post
Increases kitty’s space
Easy to install and remove
Priciest option on this list
Might show wear quickly
Might be a little wobbly for chonks
SmartyKat Hidden Hijinks
This is a last-minute add, and may not be worthy of being on the list, but it’s one I acquired recently and all the cats in the house approve, so…
A concealed motion toy is just a toy on a wand that moves in a circle, but the part that drives cats crazy is that the toy is hiding under a piece of lightweight fabric.
Pro tip: most toys are more fun for cats when tucked just out of sight, or just barely visible—under fabric, just around the corner, on the edge of the table, etc.
Drives cats mad
Hands off for the human
Can be hard to find replacement arms
So What are the Best Cat Toys?
Like I said, one size does not fit all, and with cats, you’re pretty much guaranteed that at least one thing you buy will never get played with.
But all the toys on this list have given my cats, and my cat patients, lots of hours of fun, and I’m sure your cats will like them, too.
Except for Frank. He doesn’t like anything.