Each feline is an individual, but there are some things that almost all kitties just adore. One obvious example is, of course, toys! But given that no two cats are alike, it can be hard to gauge exactly what cats like. In this snappy little article, we will talk about the various styles of play, and the types of cat toys that will help your furry little friend get the most out of playtime.
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Styles of Play
If you've spent time with a variety of cats, then you know that not every feline plays the same way. Some are big hunters, while others prefer lazier pastimes; some like rapid fire games, while others still can draw out the fun for hours. Discovering your cat's play style is a simple matter of observation, as well as a bit of trial and error. Most felines fall into one or more categories. These categories include:
Hunters like to hide, stalk, and sneak attack their playthings. Unlike other players, these cats aren't necessarily fond of cavorting right in the center of the action, but instead, prefer places where they can hide and watch their “target” from afar. The element of surprise is essential for this style, so in addition to having wriggling, darting, prey-like toys, they also require plenty of places to pop out from. These kitties also need to end their game with a successful “catch.” For some, that will mean simply having a toy to proudly carry around. For others, it means a delicious treat as a reward for all of their efforts.
Unlike hunters, who prefer a stealthier approach, chasers go into full-blown attack mode right off the bat. Although these types of players are high energy initially, they tend to lose steam fairly quickly. Like their hunter-style counterparts, though, they like to catch their “prey” at the end of the game, and may continue to play well after their initial burst of energy is spent – though, admittedly this play will continue lower to the ground and at a much slower pace.
Wrestlers are sort of like chasers at the end of the game. They tend to stay fairly low to the ground, and their energy reserve is spent in short bursts – usually in the form of “alligator death rolls” and rapid-fire kicking. This style of play is fairly hands-off for owners; however, during the early stages of kittenhood and even into the young adult period, these cats will sometimes try to get their people in on the game. In many other instances that fact would be pretty endearing, but wrestlers need to learn that plushy toys make better sparring partners than people feet!
It's pretty safe to say that all cats are brilliant in their own unique way. However, problem solvers tend to take their braininess into the playground. These felines get bored pretty quickly with the purely physical styles of play, and require a more mental challenge – usually in the form of cat puzzles and treat toys. Maze-style play houses and cat trees also work wonderfully for these types of players, especially if they can be switched up on a regular basis. Remember, since these cats do get bored fairly quickly, it's important to keep their toys interesting. These kitties need their playthings to be rotated often, moved around frequently, or hidden in novel locations just to keep things exciting.
Very social or human-oriented cats tend to fall into the “interactors” category. While most other play styles may work with or without intervention, interactors like a more hands-on approach to play, preferring to have their people or other household critters in on the game. This style is almost always paired with another category. So for example, an interactor/chaser will like it when you whip around a fishing pole toy. An interactor/problem solver, on the other hand, might get excited watching you set up a puzzle and relish the praise he receives afterwards, or might appreciate teaming up with a fellow feline to solve said puzzle.
Recommendations According to Play Style
What cats like in terms of toys will very much depend upon their personal play style. By now, you will likely have identified how your little pal plays best, so let's get to the fun part – the toys themselves!
Toys for Hunters
Our fabulous little hunter kitties just love their sneak attacks, and this fancy little cat condo is absolutely perfect for just that. It is made up of three compartments that allow your feline friend to meet all of his stealth needs: An upper perch for surveying his territory, a middle cubby hole for plotting, and a lower hiding spot for surprise pounces.
This peculiarly-shaped toy is great for our hunting friends, as it boasts a small, feathery toy that moves around randomly and pops up from a number of small holes. Furthermore, this toy is built with that oh-so-important reward system set in place. You can easily pour in some of your kitty's favorite treats, and they will spill out during playtime, thus satisfying the “catch, eat” portion of his hunting routine.
The problem with most RC-style cat toys is that they really aren't all that realistic. This creep-tacular little tarantula toy looks and moves pretty close to the real thing. The creeping, erratic movement and lightly fuzzy tactile sensation of this RC bug will not only kick that prey drive into gear, it will also help train your kitty in the fine art of arachnid hunting.
Like the spider toy above, this little bird has the advantage of a certain degree of realism. Unlike the spider toy, it is incredibly adorable and less likely to scare the crud out of you in the middle of the night. What makes this particular toy so great for hunters is its touch-activated sounds. All you need to do is set it up, toss it on the floor, and it will begin making life-like noises, which will continue as long as your kitty keeps batting it around.
Toys for Chasers
When it comes to what cats like, there is a second part to the “toys” answer, and that is: “A variety of toys!” This bundle answers the need for novelty, and is especially delightful for a chaser kitty. Why? Because it boasts 21 rolling, jingling, feathery, teasing toys! Not only can your cat chase to his little heart's content, but he'll almost never get bored along the way!
There is just something about Da Bee teaser wand that chasers can't seem to get enough of. Could it be the adorable, squishy bee toy? Is it the jittering wire that gives the aforementioned toy a prey-like movement? Regardless, chase-loving felines absolutely adore this thing, and who are we to question that?
Teaser toys can be a lot of fun, but if your chase-happy cat prefers something a little heftier to bat at, this toy might just be the thing. It rolls around on the floor, chirping and flinging its ever-so enticing feathers in all directions. Furthermore, this contraption fulfills the need to “catch and eat,” as you can fill it with treats that will randomly spill out as it jitters and jives across the tiles!
If your chaser doubles as a fetch-playing dog, this might just be the toy for him! These simple, plush little balls have a delightfully enticing feather that spins and flitters as the toy rolls across the floor or flies through the air. The small size and soft material make it ideal for picking up and bringing back to the thrower.
Toys for Wrestlers
Though it might look simple, this toy is perfect for the wee wrestler in your home. Its sturdy material and size make it ideal for little kitty legs to wrap around, while the fluttery tail offers movement that is life-like enough to encourage kicking. Furthermore, this toy has just a touch a catnip to help get your furry little buddy in the mood for a match.
So this thing is cool, I cannot deny it. It might not look like much, what with its unprepossessing appearance, but it offers some pretty nifty little functions. For one thing it has the almost requisite catnip. For another – and much more interestingly – it has a built-in spring that, when kicked, kicks back. This handy feature gives the feeling of wrestling with prey, which may make an already fun game all the more exciting for your athletic little kitty.
If your cat is a wrestler, there's a distinct possibility that he's also something of a chewer. If that's the case, then these toys are a great option. Though they may not look like much, they are tough enough to withstand the sharp rooster kicks and gnashing teeth that your cat is going to mete out. Because this doesn't exactly look like a regular toy – or, for that matter, prey – it might take some convincing to get your kitty on board, but never fear! These things are infused with catnip, which may very well help to get the action rolling.
So technically this is a dog toy, but when it comes to cat playthings, you sometimes have to think outside of the box. And all right... yes... it IS a carrot. But think about it... it's long enough for kicking, sturdy enough for biting and clawing, and billowy enough at the tip to cause even the most fickle of wrestlers to get excited! And as an added bonus, the soft cotton rope material of this toy will help to keep kitty's teeth clean and fresh. And! If you have dogs in the house, then both critters can have a toy. So, really, everyone wins!
Toys for Problem Solvers
So, if you've spent any amount of time on this website, you'll know that I love – love – multipurpose things, and this groovy little contraption definitely fits that bill. If your problem solving genius is food motivated – or a bit of a rapid-fire eater – then this toy can double as a bowl to help slow down eating. Whether gulping is a problem or not, this toy will help stimulate your cat's brain and keep him entertained, as it boasts both movable compartment and turntable-style puzzles.
This toy box has a little bit of everything, and will definitely keep your creative little friend busy for quite some time. The outside of the box has scratchable felt fabric, and has several holes for searching and reaching into. The box comes with springy crinkle and sisal balls, but the beauty of this particular toy is that because of the size of the holes, you can easily slip in a variety of additional playthings or treats – just to keep things interesting.
What problem solver – be it feline or human – doesn't love a good maze? These stackable, movable, completely customizable cubes are fantastic for producing mazes that will keep your brilliant buddy guessing. Made up of very sturdy corrugated cardboard, they are meant to stand up to your cat's sharp nails and teeth, and are also made to be rearranged a million times to help create a mind-bending experience!
This slow feeder toy is fairly simple in design, but will likely be challenging enough for most problem solvers. The small tumbler is filled with food or treats, and is meant to be batted at or turned to release said comestibles into a maze-like dish. Like the first toy in this list, it can double as a food bowl for those quick eaters; however, it makes for a wonderful toy for just about any sharp-brained feline.
Toys for Interactors
Now, typically I would discourage playing with your hands, but if your interactor needs some one-on-one playtime, this nifty little toy might be a good choice. The soft glove has rigid, puppet-like pieces for each finger, and attached to those fingers are long teaser toys. So although you will still technically be playing with your hands, you will keep about at much distance as you would with a regular teaser toy, but still maintain that important personal touch.
This teaser toy is excellent for your fuzzy little interactor as it requires a certain personal touch. The shiny, vivid, noisy tassels will easily grab your kitty's attention, while the free-flowing movement makes it easy for you to direct play.
Since many interactors require a certain degree of involvement from their people, this toy might be a good option. Not only will it be nearly mandatory for you to be involved in playtime, it will also require your kitty to get some physical exercise – which, to be honest, can be lacking for interactor cats, given that their favorite thing to do is nap in your lap.
If you're not above getting on the floor with your cat and you like creating interesting shapes and patterns, then you might just love this funky little customizable play mat. Maybe I'm crazy, but I kind of adore playing peek-a-boo with my cats, and if your kitty is an interactive type, he might just adore it too. With this mat, you can create a bunch of hidey holes for a nearly infinite number of peek-a-boo games. Furthermore, if your cat also dabbles in hunting, he might love to use this unique contraption to hide away while he stalks his dangling “prey.”
Figuring out what cats like can seem like an insurmountable task when faced with a persnickety kitty, but the truth is that the whole business is fairly simple. The short answer to that perplexing question is: Toys! The longer answer is: Toys that fit your unique feline's individual needs and likes! Hopefully this article has given you some ideas that will help you identify your kitty's particular play style, and a few good options for satisfying it.
So what do your cats like? Comment below and let us know!