Common questions from readers include, "Is it fair to keep a cat cooped up indoors while I am at work all day?" and "What can I do to help keep my cat from being bored when I am not at home?" These are good questions, because bored cats can sometimes become mischievous cats while trying to entertain themselves. Fortunately, there are several toys that can help keep them occupied, and stimulate and challenge their curiosity and intelligence. Be sure to alternate toys to stimulate interest.
My cats think their Mewvie Birdland DVD is the best thing to come along since fish flakes. Billy, in particular, will watch the twittering birds in an outdoor setting for several hours. In fact, this DVD has stimulated his interest in television in general. The DVD can be set to play in a loop for extended continuous play. Be sure to read my photo review.
The most interesting aspect of this toy is that the cats' natural hunting and stalking instincts come into play. Their interest is not particularly in the "prey" (toys hidden inside the box), but in the thrill of the hunt. The floor soon became littered with toys flipped out of the box by one cat or another. Be sure to stock the box with plenty of toys to maximize your cat's home-alone playtime. This is a toy that cats will not grow tired of, as my photo review demonstrates.
Unimaginative humans might pass right by this toy, but rare is the cat that won't be entranced by it. A thirty-inch piece of very flexible piano wire with tightly rolled cylinders of paper on the "play end" provides bouncing action that will keep cats busy indefinitely. Your kitties will go nuts over this one, and will give it very rough play. Because they're priced so low, I'd suggest buying more than one, especially with multiple cats.
Catnip Cigars are in high demand in our house. We almost always have three or four of them lying around in various stages of wear, and the cats compete over the new ones fresh from the store. The catnip scent lasts amazingly long, and I've found a few spins in a warm dryer refreshes Catnip Cigars for a whole new round of play.
The Babble Ball with electronically activate "kitty-friendly" sounds, will get your cat's attention right away, and pique his curiosity as he tries to find the source of the voice. Don't kick one in the middle of the night, though, unless you want to jump out of your PJs!. (Been there - done that.)
Cats generally love shiny, crinkly toys, and a mylar ball provides hours of chasing fun. You'll need a plentiful supply as these will tend to end up hidden under furniture.
Colorful balls that you can fill with small treats or kibble. The treats fall out of the holes in the side when kitty rolls the balls around. They come two in a pack, and are reasonably priced.
Don't forget the "freebies." Most cats love the crinkle and hiding ability of paper bags. Crunch one up to make it more interesting, then open it up. Cut or tear a window or two in the side for hide 'n' seek with other cats. Hide a toy or two inside. Use your imagination, or just let your cat use his own. Our living room sometimes resembles a super-market disaster because of the number of paper shopping bags lying around. Don't forget to cut off any handles.
Cat-Sized cardboard boxes also make great free cat toys for adventurous cats. Just leave one on the floor with the lid partially open. Try duct-taping two or three open-ended boxes together for a tunnel. Cut peek-a-boo windows randomly in the sides. Cardboard boxes are also a good place for hiding a toy, catnip cigar, or other treats. Boxes also make great interactive toys. Our Jaspurr loves to be dragged around in his "box sled." (See picture under title link)