Do You Really Need Cat Toys For Indoor Cats?

Sparrow And Sylvester - Best Cat Toys For Indoor Cats

Cats are famous for their laziness. But when they are awake? Different story. So yes, you do need cat toys for indoor cats, even if you allow kitty to roam the great outdoors. I’ve already had a bit to say about why inside is the best place for asthma cats, but then what? You can take the cat out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the cat, so let’s have a look at the ins and outs of making your kitty bounce.

 

Keeping Indoor Cats Happy

It’s a nasty myth that cats need to go outside – in fact, outside can be downright dangerous for the health and safety of our feline friends. The added concern for chronic illness such as asthma should raise a pretty good argument for not letting the cat out. The flip side of this is that you then become kitty’s main playmate and supplier of all things fun. With a little ingenuity, you can turn your home into an adventure playground for your cat, without making the place look like a circus. Or a jungle.

Here’s another common myth for you: cats are low maintenance pets. They’re really not. They are fussy and demanding; they also need physical exercise and mental stimulation to get their happy on. Asthma cats are a little more special, as their moods tend to be brought down by their breathing difficulties and general un-wellness. The first step to a happy kitty is to make sure all the basics are taken care of – the litter box is clean and in an appropriate place, their food is nutritious and their company is delightful and friendly. If these things are not covered you run the risk of making your feline very, very sad.

 

How do Cats Like to Play?

Is there anything better than watching a pile of kittens frolicking and beating each other up? I think not. Kittens play to build co-ordination and social skills as well as mental and physical prowess. Beyond that, adult cats continue to play just because it’s fun.

Cats are predators by nature – they like (and need) to run, stalk, climb, jump and pounce. Any kind of play that mimics this natural tendency to prey on things is not only good for kitty, it’s also hilariously entertaining for you.

Cat Chasing Mouse - Cat Toys For Indoor Cats

 

Why do Cats Need Toys?

Cats don’t like to be bored when they’re awake, so they will naturally look for ways to entertain themselves. Even though staring out the window can provide hours of entertainment for kitty, sometimes what he needs is something to do. Having a collection of things for your cat to play with will keep his mind and body active and keep him from destroying your stuff. Everybody wins!

 

The Best Cat Toys For Indoor Cats

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars or turn your home into a zoo to keep your feline entertained. Cats have a special ability to turn just about anything into a toy. Bottle caps, batteries, the cardboard bit out of the toilet paper roll are all fair game as far as your cat is concerned. Even something simple like a balled up piece of paper can provide hours of entertainment, but you do need to be wary of small things like rubber bands and hair pins – anything that could become a choking hazard should be kept out of reach of little paws.

Having said that, there are a few basics you should have in your home to ensure maximum happiness and entertainment for both you and kitty:

  • Scratching post – cats need to scratch for the health of their claws and to get a good stretch in their muscles. Ideally, your scratching post should have both vertical and horizontal surfaces for maximum scratching fun. Cat Ball Toys - Best Cat Toys For Indoor Cats
  • Something to climb – cats are tree-dwelling predators, they feel safest with a high vantage point. Cat trees that provide scratching surfaces are great space savers for small places, just be careful you don’t get pounced on!
  • Something to chase – there are so many options here, but basically what you need is something kitty can run after and pounce on. Toys on sticks and strings are great for this – I often just stick the stick in my back pocket and let Sparrow chase it around as I go about my household business.
  • Something kitty can play with unsupervised – you can’t be home all the time, so it’s important to have safe toys that kitty can play with when you’re not around. Cat tunnels and ball in track toys such as the CatIt Senses 2 Super Circuit are safe and entertaining for kitty.

 

Cat Toys…or Just Toys?

Sparrow Plays Guitar - Cat Toys For Indoor Cats

Cats don’t hold back when they’re playing, so make sure your cat’s toys are safe and as indestructible as possible. Feathers, plastic eyes and anything that could become detached from the toy is a choking hazard, so it’s important to always supervise and put these toys away when you’re done playing. Toys designed for cats are obviously the best choice, but really anything your cat enjoys is fine. For maximum fun, be sure to have a range of toys and rotate them frequently to make sure kitty doesn’t get bored and start destroying your stuff.

 

How do you keep your cat entertained indoors? What are some of your kitty’s favourite toys? Drop me a comment and let me know!

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28 Comments

  1. Hi, I have recently got a little kitten, and all he do is playing with one toy. There are atlest 10 more toys, but no, only that one bouncy ball. Is there a way to make other toys interesting to him ? And can you give me advice how to keep him from scratching my furniture, there are scratch marks everywhere ?

    1. Hi Kristina,

      the quick fix would be to put the bouncy ball away for a little while and hopefully kitty will find another toy to love in its place. You can bring it back out again later, when he’s had enough of his new toy of the moment and just keep rotating the toys around like that so he never gets bored. As for the scratching, make sure you have a good sturdy scratching post that won’t wobble or fall over and put it in a place that’s easily accessible for your cat. When you catch him scratching the furniture, just gently direct him to the scratching post, don’t yell or act violently. Your kitten is probably too young to be into catnip, but you can make the scratching post smell like him by gently stroking his face with a sock to collect his scent – along the sides of his face, where his whiskers are – then rubbing the sock on the scratching post. And of course, if you give him treats and praise every time he uses his scratching post he’ll pick it up in no time. Good luck!

  2. Scratch posts are some of the best toys you can give to cats and kittens. Before my mother bought one her cats would scratch the arms of the chairs we had which would drive my dad nuts when they were both at work.

    When my mother came home from work and would be too tired to play with her cats (she has four) she developed a method where she could watch TV while playing with her cats at the same time.

    The method was projecting a red laser pen onto the floor and sometimes the walls which the cats would try and catch and even the kittens when we had them. This is the perfect method for those who can multitask as it helps a lot when you don’t want to neglect your pets when tired from working all day.

    Thanks for sharing I’ve learned a lot here and I’m going show this post to my mother. 😉

    1. Hi Sam,

      your mother is a braver woman than I am – four cats is a lot to deal with! I have trouble with runty little Sparrow, and there’s only one of him.

      I’m a bit opposed to laser pointers, for one reason only: the cat will never catch the dot, which is frustrating for poor kitty. Cats like the chase, but they also like to claim their prize, play with it and eventually eat it. That’s what they do in the wild, anyway; in my house they just run off under the bed and chew on it for a little while. Laser pointers and cats are fun (and hilarious to watch) but make sure your cat also gets to catch something, otherwise he might try to catch you!

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Hi,

    We got our cat in the autumn and by the time she was old enough to go out the weather was so poor we haven’t been able to get her used to going out yet. As such she’s had a lot of toys!

    Some she loves some not so much, and she has several scratching posts in a vain attempt to save the furniture lol

    Overall she loves her toys and plays with them a lot, god knows the mischief she would have gotten into if she hadn’t had any!

    1. Hi Steve,

      I can take a guess at the kind of mischief your bundle of fluff would’ve gotten into without her toys, and I reckon it wouldn’t be pretty! Sounds like you’ve accidentally created an indoor cat, I hope your furniture survives!

  4. Hi thanks for sharing this wonderful information really found your article interesting to read as I was looking for how to keep my cat busy this sounds like a good solution.

  5. Although I cannot agree with keeping a cat indoors, I agree that when they are inside they probably need to be entertained, hence scratch posts and toys and it helps if the toys are “kitty safe”.

    In my household “Kitty” catches mice, birds, cockroaches etc, and brings it inside for my approval, those are his toys.
    He has his own door to come and go as he pleases, stays out late and absconds for days, but always returns.

    As you mentioned cats are natural predators and nocturnal at that, to deny any animal its natural instinct is unnatural and arrogant in my opinion.
    The world is full of people and all are not of the same opinion with most topics, different strokes for different folks,

    Your post is informative, vibrant and you are an animal lover, that much is obvious but a bit naive when it comes to natural Cat behaviour.

    You also make good use of visuals and wrote a good piece on Kitty Toys

    Great Post.

    Regards
    Gary

    1. Hi Gary,

      it’s always nice to hear different points of view. I can’t imagine being ok with my best mate disappearing for days on end, but I guess it all comes down to whether you want a companion animal or an organic pest controller. When I lived in rural areas our cats were always outside, they kept the rodent and snake populations in check and that was fine with everybody. They were happy and healthy cats, but not really that friendly.

      Being an inner city dweller these days it’s different – there are cat curfews in place where I live, plus it’s perfectly legal for anybody to seize my cat and have him impounded if he wanders on to their property. Of course my special case is also prone to the odd asthma attack, which basically cripples him until he can get his breath back – he’d be toast if that happened to him on the road.

      I’ve done a lot of research and I’m firmly on the fence as far as the whole inside/outside cat thing is concerned, but in the case of Sparrow, he’s much safer being the happy inside lap cat that he is.

      Thanks for your honest opinion.

  6. Hello Shirley,

    A friend of mine just got a kitten (about 6 months now) and she just likes to sleep and look through the window.

    Now after reading your post, something to climb on might be a great idea for her. Do have a toy in mind to recommend for a growing cat?

    Thank you for the info!

    1. Hi Udoh,

      young cats are great, they’ll play with just about anything. Leave your shoelaces untied and walk around the house, kittens just love to chase. If the kitten is 6 months old and she doesn’t have a scratching post of cat tree yet it’s probably a good time to get one, just make sure it’s going to be big enough for when she’s fully grown and stable enough for the remainder of her rambunctious kitten-ness. Good luck!

  7. I lost my cat of 16 years back in October. She was an abandoned barn cat at only 3 weeks old, so I don’t think she knew she was a cat!
    I am strongly considering getting 2 kittens, and I have to get back to the idea of raising babies again. This article offers a great refresher course in preparing myself for my new adventure!

    1. Oh Courtney, I’m sorry to hear about your cat. I’ve rescued a couple of abandoned babies in my time and they both turned out to be friendly little members of the family, I don’t think either of them realised they were cats either!

      I didn’t want to say it in my post, but now that you’ve put it back in my head I’ll let it out – really the best toy you can get for an indoor cat is another cat. Getting both of them as kittens is the best way to make sure they’re mates and it’s double the laughs for you. I hope you’ll come back and refresh yourself again when your little fluffballs move in. Thank you!

  8. I have 2 cats and a dog and my house is full of toys for all of them. We had our pets since they were only a few weeks old and now they are all 13 going on 14. They played a lot more with the toys when they were younger.
    Occasionally, they still do it. What shocks me is that the cats don’t pay that much with their toys. It is enough to have a ribbon, or a hair tie, or simply something loose that is easily blown away for them to go nuts about it. They still like the toys that have catnip in them so I tend to get them those type of toys.

  9. So much truth here! I used to run a cat rescue and fostered a lot of cats. Now I still have a house full, and they all stay indoors. I agree with everything you said here. Excellent article, once again!

  10. Hi Shirley
    Thanks so much for this information. I’ve been feeling sorry for my kitty lately that she is an indoor cat and never gets to go outside but you are right that it would be so dangerous! I agree with the other comments that the scratch post is a must! My cat hasn’t shown much interest in toys but I do think she is pretty bored, I really like the suggestion of a cat tunnel. I’m going to look for one tomorrow. On another note, I’ve been considering getting her a kitten to keep her company and play with. I’ve read mixed comments, some saying cats don’t necessarily want a ‘new friend’ and some saying the opposite. My cat is 8 years old. What are your thoughts on introducing another cat at this point?

    1. Hi Justyna,

      you want to be very careful with introducing two cats. They’re territorial creatures, chances are your 8 year old will feel threatened with a new pipsqueak on her turf. There’s a great video here that gives you some practical advice for making sure nobody feels threatened and your two felines will be friends and not foes. Good luck!

  11. I love this site! I haven’t seen many sites devoted to cats like this one so I’ve bookmarked it for future reference. I have a rescue cat that is now around 14 years old. She’s an indoor cat and wouldn’t venture outside if we opened every window and door. She used to love toys but now doesn’t I think because of her age.
    Do you have any suggestions for older cats and why my ol’ girl limps when she walks?

    1. Thanks Karen, I’m glad you like it!

      It’s not odd that your senior citizen kitty is less interested in playing, but that limp is concerning. I don’t mean to panic you but it could be caused by many things…infection, bone fracture, arthritis, or just old age. Please take her to the vet and get it checked out just to be on the safe side.

  12. Thank you for your cute little article. I love cats and i think they have a lot on going intellectually. A happy cat needs to be stimulated. I used to have the coolest cat that would fetch just like a dog. Usually I would use a a crumpled up post it note. She would bring it back to me every time I threw it. I agree with you that cat do need to entertained or they will likely get into trouble. LOL.

    1. Thank YOU, Heather, for reading my cute little article!

      I also have a cat who plays fetch…but only with one particular toy mouse, anything else he’s just not interested in. I didn’t train him to do this either, it’s just something he started doing. Strange creatures, aren’t they?

  13. I agree 100% that cats should stay indoors, esp. if you live in a city or really anywhere with a lot of vehicle traffic.

    Blanche was an indoor/outdoor cat in a city when I was young (and poor, and stupid, etc)…and after three costly “incidents”, she became an indoor cat. 1) she came home covered in tar (someone had patched their roof recently). 2) she came home clearly beaten within an inch of her little life (Blanche adds: “you should have seen the other cat!”) and 3) she came home with half her face swollen three time its size, clearly some kind of allergic reaction. Each of these incidents was terrifying and very expensive. The subsequent 12 years of money I’ve spent on toys for her pales in comparison.

    What’s so funny is that what one person recommends or one cat loves, another could care less about. The most recent example here is plastic springs – they came heavily recommended from a friend, and Blanche could care less. In her dotage, she actually prefers hard plastic twist ties and elastic hair bands for fetch, and shoe strings and sweatshirt strings for general irritation of her parents. We’re completely fine with it, and just happy that she’s still playful at 15.

    1. Horror stories, Penny! I’m glad you decided to keep Blanche inside, she sounds like a troublemaker…but then again, all cats are. I’ve copped a bit of flak lately for my stance on indoor cats, but hearing what you’ve been through, I’m making my stance even stronger now. I like knowing where my cat is and I like knowing that he’s safe. We can cat-proof our homes, but we can’t cat-proof the whole world.

      Isn’t it funny what they’ll play with? I buy toys and all kinds of feline amusements, but Sparrow’s all time favourite toy is the cap off one of his asthma puffers. I think it’s currently under my fridge, so I’ll be getting yelled at soon to fish it out.

      Thanks for backing me up on the indoor cat thing!

  14. I was thinking that a tennis ball would be a good toy for my four year old indoor cat who had a serious asthma attack and almost died. Any thoughts about whether a tennis ball would be a good exercise play toy?

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