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Cats' Favorite Toys

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Abyssinian with wand toys

Every cat has toy preferences. This Abyssinian has a choice of a feather wand or lure-on-string...wonder which it will be?

Photo Credit: © Amy Shojai, CABC

Kathy sent more questions about cat toy choices. While every kitty has individual taste from dunking in water to cheap thrills, there are some generalities when it comes to choosing cat toys. 

Cat Toys - Does Color Matter?

“Toys seem to be in primary colors. Noting that cats are part color-blind, is there any preferred exciting color?”

Amy answers, "Cats actually do have the “equipment” to see in colors, in particular blues and greens. They just don’t seem to particularly care about them. In experiments with cats, scientists discovered that patterns were more important that colors to cats, which makes sense. Stripes, spots, and blotches of contrasting color likely do more to float the cat’s boat than any neon mouse. If the toy is designed to be chased across the carpet, choose one in a contrasting color so it shows up light against dark or vice versa."

Favorite Toys

“What are the most effective - wand toys, radio controlled, bat the feather...?”

Amy answers, "The most effective toy depends first on the cat’s age, and second on the individual kitty personality. Kittens go through a period of self-play where they entertain themselves. This includes everything from chasing their own tails to object play—chasing balls, patting objects, “gravity experiments” where they knock breakables off counters, and more. But the object play gives way to interactive games with other cats or the human (chasing another cat, wrestling, grappling human feet under the covers). The intensity and duration of play fades as the kitten matures. Some cats continue to be active as adults and prefer cat-on-cat games, while others prefer interactive toys the owner provides. It’s really a matter of taste, with two key ingredients: MAKE IT MOVE, and human bonding/interaction. Cats don’t tend to play with any animal or human that they don’t like."

Follow The Bouncing Ball

“Both this pair just don't 'get it' with ball games. Hurl a clockwork mouse down the stairs (don't ask) and they'll instantly retrieve it for another crash-bang thrill, but a hairy rat tossed across a soft bed or ping-pong ball in the front room is just yawns-ville. How to get them turned on to chase the ball?”

Amy answers, "Well uh, actually…ahem…maybe balls just don’t pop their cork? The clockwork mouse really tickles their feline fancy, so what is different about it (compared to the ball)? Perhaps you could find something similar? Cats, like toddlers, can become easily bored with toys. I generally recommend you have a nice selection and provide three or four (per cat) for play, and then rotate them. Put some away for a while so they have fresh ones that spur interest. Another trick might be to store the balls (or any toy) in a plastic sealable baggy that’s filled with potent catnip. That way when new toys come out for the rotation, they also have an alluring scent."

Altruistic Kitties?

“They are brothers who love each other to bits but when it’s Sneaky Mouse time then it’s all bets off and we have deadly rivals. Suddenly for no reason one will leap off and race for the door, leaving the field open for the other, stopping to stand and watch quietly. Is this 'bested in battle' or an example of the genetic altruism that seems to be interesting scientists recently?”

Amy answers, “I’d love to think it’s genetic altruism. But more than likely, it’s “I’m pooped!” Cats were designed to hunt, stalk, chase and pounce in bursts of energy and they do not have the stamina for exhaustive competitive play the way dogs do. Rather than throw in the figurative towel, though, cats would rather ‘pretend’ to find something more intriguing to pursue, maybe on the other side of that door?

Related Video
How to Make a Mousie Cat Toy
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