Every household with a cat should also be home to a cat toy – no matter if you live with an outdoor or an indoor cat. Cat toys give your cat variety and entertainment – playing keeps them physically fit and their minds sharp.
Cat toys can generally be divided into two groups: games you play together with your cat, and toys for your cat to play with alone.
Cat teasers and cat dusters – for your cat’s hunting instinct
The difference here is between cat teasers (a long cord attached to a solid rod, and at the end of which there is a toy) and cat dusters (in general, the object of interest is attached directly to the rod).
Every cat reacts differently to pendants – you have to use trial and error to work out what kind of pendant your cat likes the most:
e.g.- a feather pendant – as the feathers fly around and turn in the air, the whispering sound is like that of a bird on the wing. The quiet noise will trigger your cat’s hunting instinct.
– or a small mouse attached the rod – Frenzy Ratatouille is very like a real mouse in terms of size, shape and materials. It is made of 100% genuine North American white-tailed deer hair.
-a real fur pom-pom, whether made from hare, sheep or reindeer fur, this is best in a compact size so that, once the cat has caught its prey, it can also play with it using its back feet or “kill” it.
-A glittery pendant – the glitter and the different shimmers trigger a cat’s curiosity.
NB: Please do not leave anything lying around that your cat could swallow. Never leave toys like this lying in a basket – put them away in a drawer. This also makes it more interesting when they are “freshly” pulled out of the drawer – just like with children, consistency is boring.
The second, and much more important, aspect is safety with cat teasers. When playing, the cord can end up around the cat’s neck. Please always keep them “out of the reach of cats”.
Activity boards and snack balls – for your cats to actively look for food
Lots of cats first have to be taught the principle – so please don’t be surprised that I include fun boards and food games in the “shared games” section – because before a cat can play by itself, it has to learn how, and to practise. To do this, first show your cat the tasty treat, and let your cat see you place it inside the toy. For a snack ball, show your cat how to make the ball move to get to the food they want. The treats fall through the holes, and your cat has its first taste of success!
The most well-known feeder, which is also available for dogs and horses, is the Pipolino from France. It is in a handy barbell shape, and easy to use – depending on your cat’s needs (growth, pregnancy, feed or play, diet), the difficulty level and the amount of food can be adjusted. Pipolino can, or better, should, replace normal feed tray, according to the manufacturer (the cat “works” for its food – is busy – and this has a positive impact on its mental health).
For cats who like “pawing” at things, especially when their treats are hidden in a container, snack finder boards are ideal. Put dry food in the various openings. These products were designed to minimise boredom for many indoor cats, and lower the risk of cats suffering from obesity, stress, depression, behavioural disorders, food cravings, muscle loss or early-onset ageing.
Clicker training – for teaching your cat
You might not believe it, but clicker training is also an excellent way to train your cat. With clicker training and a bit of patience you can train your kitty either towards a particular behaviour or away from it. For cats, a focus on strong tellings-off and stern looks is not enough. Your voice always sounds different to your cat, and a stern look could even make your cat frightened. However, the sound of the clicker is always the same, enabling your cat to associate it with a particular meaning. No matter if young or old – clicker training can be used on every cat. The clicker target stick offers a combination of the two – ideal for trying out many new exercises with your cat in a playful way, and giving indoor cats new challenges.
To have the best success with training, you need to confirm the desired behaviour with an immediate reward and sound the clicker – so your cat associates the actions it has just performed with a reward and the sound of the clicker. After a while, you can leave out the actual reward (such as a treat) and your cat will consider the sound of the clicker a reward in itself. Clicker and target training is fun – and the success you have will motivate both you and your cat.
I hope I have helped you choose the right cat toy – have fun playing with your cat every day!
You might also find part 2 of my tips for cat toys interesting.