The 9 Best Toys for Indoor Cats [2020]

31 JANUARY 2020

This article is written by one of our in-house veterinarians and self-professed 'cat lady', Dr Carla Paszkowski BVSc

The cat is a special and unique animal. On one hand, they are a keen, swift, hunting machine with fine-tuned killer instincts. But on the other hand, they are more than happy to live a cushy indoor life, lounging on the couch and waited on day and night by their 'human slaves'. For such an efficiently evolved hunter, they sure can adapt quickly to the 'couch potato' lifestyle.

Is it cruel to keep a cat indoors?If you've grown up with outdoor cats, you might find the idea of keeping a cat indoors all the time hard to swallow. The truth is, it's completely fine to keep your cat indoors - in fact, most vets recommend it. Cats are 'territory' creatures, which means that they are happy and content so long as they have an established territory for themselves. An indoor territory can keep them just as happy as an outdoor territory.

Not only does an indoor life keep your cat safe from predators, parasites, illnesses, and cat fights, but it protects our native wildlife too.

However, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

Indoor cats are at risk of getting bored.This is easy enough to understand; I'm sure if you were stuck indoors all day without TV, books, or other forms of entertainment, you'd be bored too! And unfortunately boredom in our feline friends can lead to depression (yes - cats get depressed just like us!).

Indoor cats are at risk of obesity and health issues.This is alsoeasy to relate to; we all know that a stagnant, lazy lifestyle will eventually make you fat! And it's no laughing matter. Obesity in cats can very quickly lead to issues like diabetes, and can exacerbate urinary issues, respiratory problems, and skin issues too.

So how do we avoid these issues? The key is plenty of mental stimulation and exercise. However, it's not like you can take your cat out for a daily walk like you can for dogs. Instead, playtime is the most important form of exercise for indoor cats, and toysplay an important part in this.

How many cat toys is enough?

So here we have it; just how many cat toys do you need to stop an indoor cat from getting bored, overweight, and unhealthy?

In my opinion, no matter how crazy a cat lady it makes me sound, I believe you can neverhave too many cat toys. However, as a general guide, I have compiled the following checklist.

To keep your indoor cat happy, you should provide: (per cat)

1. At least one scratcher

2. A 'cat playground'(tunnels / cat trees / hidey-hole beds are all great for making a 'cat playground')

3. 1-2 toys for interacting with you

4. 1-2 toys for playing by themselves

5. 1-2 toys that encourage exercise

6. A treat or kibble-dispensing toy

Did you know: Every Cat Has A Unique Personality and Toy Preference

Just like children, every cat will have a preference for a certain type of toy. Some cats enjoy chasing and jumping for small object like balls, some go grazy for noise-making crinkle toys, some really like feathers, some like long snake-like objects... the list goes on. My cat Smudge, for example, has a special affinity for anything with feathers (she holds them in her paws and grooms them like a baby. It's adorable).

It's always important to find out what type of toy your cat likes best. Try providing a bit of a smorgasbord and see what they like to play with. And never assume that your cat simply doens't like to play - you just might not have found the right toy for them yet!

Our Top Toys for Indoor Cats

1. Best all-roundcat toy

2. Best for bondingwith your cat

3. Best for exercise

4. Best for hunters

5. Best for puzzle solvers

6. Best kitty playground

7. Best catniptoy

8. Best treat dispenser

9. Best splurgetoy

1. Best all-round cat toy: The Catit Senses Roller Circuit

The Catit Senses Roller Circuit

Roller Circuit toys are perfect for indoor cats as they will keep your kitty entertained for hours. The design is relatively simple: usually consisting of a covered track and a ball inside, playful little cat paws can reach through the cover to bat at the ball, but can't remove it.

The Catit Senses Roller Circuit is designed with a light-up ball enclosed in an undulating roller circuit. The undulations of the track keep the ball rocking and moving around under the cover, similar to a prey animal running, hiding and appearing. The whole thing just never fails to endlessly entertain cats.

Why we love it:This is perfect for indoor cats. Not only does this toy encourage exercise - as your cat will run around the track batting excitedly at the ball - but it is an excellent toy for home alone cats. The rocking movements of the ball on the hilly track means that just one bat of the ball creates a lot of responsive movements. The best part about this is that it manages to be so responsive and interactive without the use of electronics. Unlike other interactive toys which require electronics to respond to your cat's movements, this toy only uses the simple physics of momentum.

I personally bought one of these for my fussy cat years ago, and she still plays with it every day. She usually gets bored with toys, but this one has truly stood the test of time. Most reviews from cat owners report equally pleasing results with this toy.

Shop Roller Circuit Toys

2. Best for bonding with you: The Jackson Galaxy Air Wand

The Jackson Galaxy Air Wand with Detachable Feather

As indoor cats can prone to loneliness, it's important that you dedicate time each day to interact and bond with your cat. Cats can feel neglected if they aren't given adequate attention each day.

Teaser toys consist of a wand and a string or tail, and they are the perfect toy for bonding with your cat. They provide hours of engaging interactive playtime with your cat.

Why we love it:This innovative wand from Jackson Galaxy has an adjustable, telescoping handle and retractable cord making it super portable and easy to customise. The retractable cord has a swivel attachment to prevent tangles. The enticing feather toy on the end of the string is both detachable and interchangeable. This means you can change the feather toy to another attachmentwhen your cat gets bored of it, without have to purchase a whole new teaser wand.

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3. Best for exercise: Frolicat Bolt Automatic Laser

The Frolicat Bolt Laser Pointer

Automatic laser pointers are almost like a treadmill for your kitty. Simply set them up, turn them on, and watch your cat run rampant after the red dot. You would think your cat would eventually figure out that a laser spot is simply uncatchable, but alas they continue to chase endlessly... perhaps thinking 'maybe today is the day I'll catch that darn red bug...' We can only admire their persistence, can't we?

Why we love it:Not only does the Frolicat Bolt Automatic Laserencourage activity in indoor cats - making it perfect for pudgy kitties - but it takes the work out for you. Simply place it on a flat surface, turn it on, and watch your kitty pounce, chase, and frolick. The laser point patterns are random and designed to mimic the movements of prey. It also uses batteries, rather than a plug-in cord, which means it is totally portable for any part of the house.

Please note that use of laser pointers in young dogs can predispose them to light chasing compulsive habits. Always use in short periods with dogs, and do not encourage compulsive behaviour.

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4. Best for hunters: Frolicat Pounce

The Frolicat Pounce

Ahh, technology. If you think kidshave a lot of electronic toy options these days, you should check out what's available for cats. Never before have there been so many different types of electronic interactive cat toys to choose from. Electronic toys are great as they simulate hunting and encourage your cat's instincts. This is perfect for indoor cats as they don't have access to real prey oustide. On average, outdoor cats spend 2-3 hours each day stalking and hunting prey, so it's important to provide an indoor cat with an alternative outlet.

Why we love it:The Frolicat Pounce has a little mouse on a track, and swivels it around in a random, hide-and-seek pattern. The unpredictable movement stimulates your cat’s natural instinct to hunt, chase, and pounce on prey. It has 4 speed settings and will turn off automatically after 10 minutes.

Shop Electronic Interactive Cat Toys

5. Best for puzzle solvers: The Smartcat Peek a Prize Toy Box

The Smartcat Peek a Prize Toy Box

Puzzle toys will keep your cat's mind busy and occupied. They are great for indoor cats who could always benefit from a little extra mental stimulation.

Puzzle toys typically contain a chamber with a variety of objects inside, and a number of small holes. They encourage cats to remove the objects from the holes, and can also be used with tasty treats for food-motivated cats. The whole concept plays on the cat's instinct for hunting a small prey animal from a hiding place (ie, a mouse from a mouse hole!)

Why we love it:the Smartcat Peek a Prize Toybox is a simple contraption that will keep your cat occupied and mentally stimulated for ages, and it can be used with treats too. It works with any appropriately sized ball or mouse toy, so you can re-use those old jingly toys that get stuck under the couch!

Shop Puzzle Cat Toys

6. Best kitty playground: The Catsentials Scratch and Rest Station

The Catsentials Scratch and Rest Station

Who doesn'tlove the idea of a playground for your cat? Cat playgrounds are a whole lot of fun, and they can greatly benefit your cat's wellbeing too.

The perfect cat playground:Whether you choose to combine a scratcher and a tunnel, or just purchase one multi-purpose item of cat furniture, the ideal 'cat playground' should include at least one hiding place, one scratching surface, and different levels for your cat to explore and perch up high.

Why we love it:the Catsentials Scratch and Rest Stationcontains everything you need for the perfect cat playground - a hidey hole, plenty of scratching surfaces, a pom pom ball for playing, and plenty of levels to explore. It's also reasonably priced, especially considering its height (85cm tall)

Shop Cat Furniture and Tunnels

7. Best for catnip: The KONG Kickeroo

The Kong Kickeroo

Have you ever tried catnip for your cat? Many joke that catnip is like 'kitty weed' or 'cat marijuana'. This is a surprisingly accurate comparison; the scent and ingestion of this herb can create a short-lasting 'loopy' high. Rolling, rubbing, sniffing, drooling and excessive vocalisation are common as the brain responds to an oil called Nepatalactone in the plant's leaves and stem. Nepatalactone activates the brain similarly to mating pheromones, which may explain the almost sexual nature to some exhibited behaviours.

Approximately 20-30% of cats do not respond to this special herb; however I still recommend giving it a try. Catnip is cheap, harmless, and worth a shot.

Why we love it:the Kong Kickeroo toys consist of a soft 'body' stuffed with catnip, and trailing feathery 'tail'. It comes in a few different patterns, shapes and sizes, including a small one for kittens. Most cats love to wrestle, bunny kick, and carry this toy around the house. As sad as this sounds, it's the perfect toy for cats in a single-cat household as it mimics another cat's body - hence the wrestling / bunny kicking behaviour. (It's like having a very passive, catnip-smelling friend who's alwayshappy to play!).

Shop Catnip Toys

8. Best treat-dispensing toy: The Catit Senses Food Maze

The Catit Senses Food Maze

Treat- or food-dispensing toys are perfect for indoor cats, particularly if they are food-motivated or overweight. Any toy that encourages your cat to forage, complete a puzzle, or hunt for their food will really help keep their mind busy. Working for a meal is a natural behaviour in cats, as they would naturally need to hunt in order to eat.

Why we love it:The Catit Senses Food Maze contains different levels, allowing cats to move their treat or bits of kibble through the maze. By pawing through the specially placed openings, your cat is forced to think and work in order to get the kibble down to the bottom where it is accessible.

Shop Treat-Dispensing Cat Toys

9. Best splurge toy: The Pet Kit Mate Pro

The Pet Kit Mate Pro

When it comes to spoiling your cat, the Pet Kit range takes the cake. Their high-tech line of gadgets range from an activity tracker to an automatic feeder - all controlled and monitored by an app on your phone.

The Pet Kit Mate Pro is without a doubt my favourite from the Pet Kit range. This super cool contraption is a webcam, interactive laser pointer, and means of audio communication.

Why we love it:The Pet Kit Mate Pro allows you to watch, talk to, and play with your pet, all from a remote location (like when you're at work). Have you ever thought 'I wish I could text my cat when I'm at work...' (I know I can't be the only one!) Well, this gadget is probably the closest you can get to messaging or communicating with your cat when you're away.

Shop Splurge Cat Toys

Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

New Kitten Checklist

How To Choose the Perfect Cat Furniture

How To Catify You Apartment

What is the Best Cat Litter?

Shop All Cat Supplies Now