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Playing With Your Cat: Toys and Games

Types of Toys for Fun and Games continued...

Some ball toys you might like to try:

  • Wadded-up paper (experiment with different textures and sizes)
  • Mylar balls (crinkly and shiny)
  • Ping-pong balls (watch for wear)
  • Sponge balls (nice and quiet)

Food-Dispensing Toys

Many people allow their cats free access to food at all times. This can be convenient for pet parents, but it often leads to cats eating more than they should. Instead of free feeding, try using a food toy to “deliver” your cat’s food. She’ll have to work a bit for her meals, which will engage her mind and satisfy her natural instincts to hunt. Food-dispensing toys can also slow down cats who eat too quickly and encourage more activity throughout the day.

Start with a hungry cat and some of your cat’s favorite treats. Open the food toy and make it extremely easy for your cat to get a treat out of the toy. This process will remove any fear your cat might have of the toy itself, and it will help her learn the association between the toy and eating. As soon as your cat is happy to eat out of the toy, make the situation a little more challenging. Close the toy, or reduce the size of the opening so that your cat has to interact with the toy (touching, pawing or nosing it) to get the treat to come out. Over time, begin to mix your cat’s kibble with the treats. Over time you can gradually fade out the treats until you’re using only kibble. Finally, set out a couple of the toys in different places in your house, and feed your cat only with the toys. No more boring food bowls!

Some food-dispensing toys you might like to try:

  • Twist ‘n Treat™
  • Tricky Treat Ball™

Catnip Toys

The majority of cats in the U.S. find catnip stimulating. Adding this herb to play time can greatly increase your cat’s enjoyment! Catnip can be stuffed into toys or packed into balls. Try sprinkling it onto a fresh piece of newspaper or into a paper grocery bag or cardboard box to invite your cat to play. It’s safe for your cat to ingest catnip, especially if you choose an organically grown brand without any additives.

One caution about catnip: Some cats become very excited when smelling or eating it, so be careful about petting or rubbing your cat until you know how she responds. When cats get overexcited, they can sometimes bite.

Some catnip toys you might like to try:

  • El Gato catnip stuffed cigar toy
  • Bonkers™ catnip mice, stuffed pillows and tubs of dried catnip

Toys Made of Attractive Materials

Similar to using catnip to attract cats to toys, toy makers combine materials that cats like in one toy:

  • Feel: wool, fur, fleece
  • Sound: crinkly materials, bells, electronic chirps
  • Sight: fluttery, feathery materials, lights, moving parts
  • Smell and taste: fur, added flavoring (fish, fowl, beef, catnip, honeysuckle, etc.)

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

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