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Our Favorite Cat Toys

A short list of the best and most affordable

By Molly "the Cat Lady" Rosen

As promised in previous posts, following is a list of our personal favorite cat toys, and where you can buy them. Bonus: They are all made in the USA!

  • The Original Cat Dancer:  Ridiculously simple and genius at the same time! Made of a wire and paper, this toy is only $3.50 and will easily become your cat’s favorite toy. You can order them on the website (with shipping), buy one at a pet supplies store, or at Purrniture in St. Paul (on University Avenue). Variations are also sold, such as one that you can stick to the wall, but we prefer the original one.
  • Cat Charmer: Made by the same company that makes the Cat Dancer, the Cat Charmer has been a hit with nearly all of the kitties we’ve used it with! A strong, flexible wand with a long strip of fleece, the Cat Charmer has been known to entice even the most dignified cats into acting like kittens. Be sure to try different ways of moving it around to simulate different prey (see our Playtime 101 post for more details). And again, it’s very affordable, at just over $6.00. Also available at Purrniture.


  • Smarty Kat Catnip Stix! The very best catnip toys we’ve ever found (known to affect even cats who normally don’t react to catnip) are also the least expensive. They’re sold under the Boots and Barkley® brand for Target stores, for a totally reasonable $2.99 for a pack of 3. Not all Target stores carry these, but they are also available online. We always have them around for our cats.


  • Pretty much anything in the Yeowww! family of products actually smells like catnip (most catnip toys only barely do), and are popular with kitties. We happen to be partial to the Banana in our household. Also available at Purrniture.


  • Boxes!  With Amazon and other online retailers such a mainstay in our lives now, there is never a shortage of boxes. It’s easy to set a box on the floor and just see what happens. Or you can cut holes in boxes (both sides—cats don’t like feeling trapped), attach them together and even create a “habitrail” of sorts. Throw a blanket or towel over your configuration to make it even more fun. Use your creativity! The possibilities are endless. Think like a kid making a fort.


  • Bags!  A simple brown paper grocery bag can provide endless hours of entertainment. Open a bag and set it down on its side, and chances are your cat will go right inside. Some cats go nuts if you tap on the sides while they are in the bag. During playtime, toss a toy into the bag and get your cat to run into it. Some cats like to just hang out in their bag and nap in it. Others like to jump on it and make lots of noise. Others will “hide” in the bag and playfully swipe at whoever happens by. Plastic bags are also popular with cats, but make sure your cat doesn’t chew plastic, because that can result in a medical emergency. Also, be sure to cut any bag handles so your cat can’t get their head trapped in one.

Of course, there are countless other toys on the market, including quite a few battery operated toys, but these are hit or miss with the cats we know. If you can afford the risk, they can be fun to try, but be aware your cat may just look at it and/or walk away. The toys listed above are the ones that we have found the majority of cats respond to, and they are also quite affordable so the average cat parent can afford them.


For tips on playing with your cat, see our article Playtime 101.


We hope you found this article helpful. We’d love to hear if you try any of these toys and how your cat(s) responded. Let us know!


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