Category Archives: Cat toys

The Types of Toys Cats Really Like

By Linda Cole

Cats need to play, and they enjoy it just as much as dogs do. Outside cats have nature provided “toys” like dried leaves blowing around on the ground and bugs crawling through the grass. Inside kitties depend on their owners to find interesting and exciting toys to play with – when they aren’t napping in a sun puddle, that is. However, not any old toy will do, from a cat’s point of view, and there are specific toys cats really like to play with.

Because felines are true carnivores and hunters, every aspect of the hunt is important to all kitties whether they live inside or outside. If you’ve ever observed a cat watching a bird sitting on a tree limb, you can see her excitement level grow as she sizes up her prey. The tail twitches back and forth, her intense eyes are focused, the whiskers are pulled forward, and her body is taut with anticipation. The intricate process of stalking prey is a cat’s ultimate toy.

The best toys for cats are those that allow them to use their predatory skills. It’s the act of hunting that entertains them. Toys that allow them to stalk, pounce on, bite, claw, grab and hug against their body, and simulate a bite to the neck of their pretend prey is a good toy. When you watch a cat play, everything about how they entertain themselves is connected to hunting. This is true even in cats that have never been taught to hunt.

When cats play, it’s how they practice and hone their skills as the perfect hunter. Once she detects movement, her instincts take over as she watches her “opponent” and waits for the right time to pounce, which is usually spot on. Toys that mimic the movements of natural prey, even if they don’t look like a mouse or bird, are ones cats find intriguing. A piece of string wiggling along the floor or held up and dangled in front of a cat will get her attention – as long as it keeps moving. Once it stops, however, a cat will quickly grow tired of it. Their brain is hardwired to detect the slightest movement of a mouse, and movement is what draws their interest to a toy.
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How to Help an Outdoor Cat Come Indoors

By Julia Williams

Until about six years ago, I had indoor/outdoor cats. As their guardian, I made this choice for them knowing there were risks involved. At the time, I weighed the pros and cons of indoor versus outdoor, and also took into consideration that my country property was as safe as any outdoor place could be. Various reasons led me to rethink my decision and begin the arduous task of trying to convince my outdoor-loving kitties that being indoors wasn’t so bad.

It’s been a challenge, and while there have been no converts per say, Rocky and Annabelle seem okay with indoor living. I still let them go outdoors some, usually when I’m in my garden or playing with them. Since they were outside at will for their first three years, I won’t deny them these moments in the sun they clearly love. But when I tell them no, they don’t appear to mind.

Mickey is a completely different story. During the harsh winter, he seems resigned to being indoors, but come spring he is desperate to be outside. He cries nonstop, paces, jumps on me, scolds me loudly, and tries to escape at every opportunity. Only someone with a heart of stone could ignore his distress and keep him indoors. I want him to be safe, but what’s the point if he’s completely miserable?

Making the Switch

There are things you can do to help an outdoor cat come indoors, which I’ll share with you here. Rocky and Belle are proof that some cats adjust and are happy indoors. However, if you have a cat like Mickey, be aware that they may never take to indoor life no matter what. An article I read said cats like Mickey would eventually give up demanding to go out if you ignored their pleas, but I disagree. I don’t believe Mickey would ever be okay being an indoor only cat. First, he’s 13 and was allowed out for 7 years. Secondly, I think it’s his nature. I’ve become convinced that some cats just have more ‘wild’ in them.

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Cats and String – a Dangerous Duo

By Julia Williams

We’ve all seen the classic image of a cute kitten playing with a ball of yarn. I’m not sure why, but most cats seem to really enjoy chasing string as its being dragged across the floor by their human playmate. Mine love a simple piece of string more than any fancy store-bought cat toy. Mickey is a couch-potato kitty, and if I can’t get him off his duff to play with the cat toys, all I have to do is dangle a string in front of his face and he’s off and running.

A piece of string or yarn is a cheap cat toy, and they can be great fun as well as good exercise for felines. However, what many owners don’t realize is that string can also be quite dangerous for their cat, and can even result in death. If the string is left out for the cat to find between playtime sessions, many kitties will start eating the string. Unfortunately, once they start swallowing the string, they can’t stop – they can only swallow more.

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How to Make Your Own Cat Toys


By Julia Williams

Every cat owner on the planet has experienced buying the most comfortable looking pet bed only to have their cat choose a cardboard box instead. The same is true for cat toys. I’ve lost count of how many cute toys I’ve brought home to less than enthusiastic felines. They would take one look at the new cat toy and proceed to bat around a pen. It became quite obvious that the store-bought cat toys were more for me than them, so I decided to learn how to make my own. Turns out, there are some really creative ideas for cheap cat toys, and some are even free!

Making Cat Toys from Household Objects

A toilet paper tube makes a great cat toy all by itself, but I found instructions online for making an even better cat toy from this throwaway item. Basically, you cut slits in both ends and fold them back so it resembles a spoked wheel (read the detailed instructions here). I made one of these in under five minutes and kitty-tested it. Belle liked it quite a bit; she chased it, batted it around and just generally mauled it. No worries – it’s free and simple to make, so when it gets destroyed I can always make another one.

Make a cat toy from an empty prescription pill bottle by adding some small beans to create a noisemaker. You could also fill it with a few pieces of dry cat food; if the child-proof cap happens to come off, your cat will be rewarded with a nice little snack. An alternative is those hollow plastic eggs used to hide treats for the annual Easter egg hunt. My cats like these better than the pill bottles because they have a more unpredictable roll. They do come apart easier though, so use crunchies instead of beans.

Portable baby gyms can easily be converted into a kitty gym. They have all sorts of toys and noisemakers hanging from them, and some of these might even interest your cat. If not, it’s easy to replace them with some cat toys, feathers and other dangly things your cat can play with. If you don’t have an old baby gym, you might be able to pick one up at a yard sale.

Those “fishing pole” types of cat toys are feline favorites. I bought a furry mouse-on-a-stick at the dollar store, and when the mouse got destroyed, I tied another cat toy to the plastic pole. You can easily make a fishing pole cat toy using a sturdy, straight tree branch, thick yarn or a shoelace, feathers (look around outside to get some for free), small ball or other cat toy. Just remember that the fishing pole toys are not designed for cats to use alone; always put them away after you’re done playing.

One day while cooking supper, I accidentally discovered another household item that makes a great cat toy. I dropped a carrot onto the floor and Rocky immediately pounced on it and claimed it as his new toy. He swatted it, rolled it, and carried it around in his mouth for the longest time. Since then, I sometimes give him a fresh carrot and he still thinks it’s the greatest cat toy ever. (Shh…don’t tell him it’s not really a cat toy).

Making Catnip Cat Toys from Scratch

Catnip is a kitty-safe stimulant that many felines are very attracted to. You can easily grow your own catnip, or buy it from the pet store. Take two small fabric squares, sew three of the edges together, stuff with catnip and stitch up the remaining edge to make a little pillow catnip toy. If you want to make something a little more creative, I found free patterns online for catnip-stuffed felt critters, including a fish, bird, and mouse. These super cute toys are simple to make, but the instructions suggest using beads for eyes; to make them safer for your cat, use felt for the eyes, or leave off the eyes altogether.

You can make a Knotted Catnip Cat Toy in a matter of minutes. Simply take a small scrap of fabric and place a pinch of catnip in the middle. Carefully fold the fabric over the catnip, then tie a knot in the fabric and voila – instant cat toy.

If you knit or crochet (or would like to learn) you can make a cat toy in under an hour. It can be as simple as two squares joined together (like the pillow toy above) or two round shapes to form a ball. More accomplished knitters can make mice, fish, birds and other shapes, or use this free pattern to knit egg roll and wonton cat toys.

Making your own cat toys is easy, it’s fun, and it saves money. Basically, anything that moves, rolls, makes noise or has feathers can become a cat toy. Just use your imagination! And for more inexpensive ways to entertain your kitty, read How to Save Money on Cat Toys.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Why Pets Need to Play


By Linda Cole

Some form of play is found in all species of mammals. People play card games and video games, they jump out of airplanes just for fun, and engage in a host of other stimulating activities. Dogs and cats need to play for the same reason – it helps to beat boredom!

I have a cat named Pogo who was born with one back leg shorter than the other. Because of this he has a pronounced limp, but you would never know it to watch him play. He began to walk at the same time his siblings did, but instead of walking, he bounced across the floor on his back legs hopping like a kid on a pogo stick. He is now almost 5 years old and still bounces while he plays. No string, ball or cat toy can escape his clutches as he leaps and strikes at the exact right time to capture his prey. All of my cats are expert acrobats and clowns when it comes to play, and I’ve spent hours watching, laughing and playing with them as they learned important skills and life lessons through play. Dogs and cats need to play to keep their minds active and their bodies in good physical shape.

Cats need play in order to hone their skills as hunters, to learn how to socialize with us and other pets in the home, and develop good mental skills. Playing with your dog or cat is one of the best ways to bond with them. They love having their favorite human interacting with them and any moving stimulus will grab a cat’s attention. Even an older cat that has become a couch potato can’t resist something moving.

Dogs need play for many of the same reasons as cats. Puppies learn about social order in the pack by playing with their litter mates. Play gives both dogs and cats confidence and helps them lead happy and stable lives. Like cats, dogs learn important hunting skills through play. As puppies and kittens grow, the lessons they learn from playing teaches them what they need to know as adults.

Even though most dogs no longer need to depend on predatory skills, they are still learned and instilled in a dog’s mind during play. Every time they chase a stick or ball, they are learning how to chase prey. Each leaf or toy that is caught teaches a dog or cat how to pounce and attack. To them, these activities are just plain fun, but the specialized skills they are learning will never leave them. These skills are stalking, patience, sizing up their “prey” and knowing when and how to attack.

Play gives dog and cat owners an insight into their pet’s health. As dogs and cats age, most will continue to play even though it may require some coaxing from us at times. A pet who doesn’t play and doesn’t respond to a stimulus can indicate a health problem that may need to be addressed. It can also tell you if your pet is unhappy or depressed.

Just like kids, dogs and cats need to play to keep them out of trouble and help burn up excess energy. A bored pet can do a lot of damage to a garbage can, recliner or couch cushion. I had a bored cat who took on a couch pillow all by himself one afternoon. Of course he tried to blame the dog, but the dog had been confined in the basement that afternoon, far from the scene of the crime.

Dogs and cats need play to maintain a healthy mind and body. The skills they learn are invaluable as they mature. A puppy or kitten who doesn’t play will still develop normally, but they could be at a disadvantage to others their own age.

A dog will show you they want to play with a “play bow.” They lower the front part of their body to the ground and stretch out their front legs. Their back end is in the air with their tail usually wagging. Cats are always ready to pounce on anything moving and all it takes is a crumpled ball of paper to get them into a game.

Dogs and cats that play together learn how to interact with each other. The best time for puppies to be socialized is around 8 to 16 weeks and kittens between 5 and 12 weeks. Don’t be afraid to romp on the floor with your pet. Playing is fun for them, and for us!

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Purrfect Christmas Gifts for Cats


By Julia Williams

I don’t enjoy shopping for Christmas presents for my family and friends. There is too much pressure to find the perfect gift, e.g., one that won’t get returned or be met with that “what is this thing?” look. Cats, on the other hand, are quite fun to shop for. For one thing, buying Christmas gifts for cats won’t bankrupt my budget. Cats are also incredibly easy to please, and get just as excited about a simple catnip toy as they would with the latest, greatest “must have” cat toy of the season.

Here are a few Christmas presents for cats that I recommend. I think any of these items would make this holiday season merry for your feline friend. But here’s the thing: even if they don’t absolutely, pawsitively love your gift – they can’t return it, so it doesn’t really matter!

Elevated feeders let your kitty eat at the perfect height, which is said to be more comfortable and aids digestion. Elevated feeders are especially helpful for cats with arthritis, neck or back problems and other conditions that make swallowing difficult. Whether you choose the single elevated feeding station that holds one bowl or the double feeder, look for styles that have a sturdy metal frame and long-lasting stoneware bowls.

A water fountain provides a continuous flow of filtered H2O, which may motivate your kitty to take a drink more often. Most cats don’t drink enough water, so a fountain can help them stay properly hydrated and in good health. Another plus is that most water fountains for pets have a three-layer filter which removes impurities and makes the water taste better.

A “crinkle sack” is a great gift for a new kitten. I found a red velvet one last Christmas that I thought my paper-sack-loving cats would enjoy. Surprisingly, it didn’t interest them so I gave it to my friend’s new kitten, who loves the crinkling noise it makes and is always playing inside it.

Filled pet stockings are perfect if you are short on time – they come stuffed with all sorts of fun cat toys. To save money and time next year, shop the after-Christmas sales and you can pick them up at a steep discount.

Cozy window sill perches let your cat soak up the sun and watch birds, squirrels and other wildlife without endangering the critters’ safety.

A desktop cat seat gives kitty a comfy place to be near you while you work or play on your computer. It attaches to the side of your desk so the cat stays off your keyboard and doesn’t knock over your coffee while trying to get your attention. I need one of these badly (hint, hint) because my cat Mickey does this all too often.

Cat toys: Furry mice are always a feline favorite. Cats (especially kittens) can go through these quickly – buy a multi-pack or two so they never run out. Another inexpensive but highly entertaining cat toy is a ping pong ball. I put my cats into the bathtub with these; they can chase them without the ball ending up under the sofa or behind the fridge. Other favorite cat toys are feathers or streamers on a stick and catnip-filled soft toys. This year, my kitties are each getting a super cute Ho Ho Hairball cat toy, a furry round puff with eyes and a Santa hat.

Cat condos or cat towers provide your kitty with its own space to climb, stretch, scratch and sleep. Posts are either bare wood or covered with carpet or sisal, so be sure to get the scratching surface your cat prefers or buy a condo that has a combination of all three.

Dried bonito fish flakes are a natural, healthy treat that cats love. You can find these in many pet stores and in the ethnic section of most supermarkets.

A plush pet bed is a great Christmas gift for a cat, since a typical feline spends most of every day (and night) sleeping. Cat beds come in a myriad of styles and sizes. However, a cat will only care that it’s comfy, so choose the fabric and color you like, and everyone will be happy.

Buying Christmas gifts for cats is so much easier than trying to pick out that perfect present for Aunt Sally or Uncle Joe, or that co-worker you barely know. And one thing is certain – cats never complain that Santa didn’t bring them what they asked for!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.