Cat playing with fishing toy

Photo by Juan Gomez on Unsplash

A happy cat is a playful cat — but many owners can certainly attest to buying toys that our beloved felines simply don’t show a bit of interest in. When that happens, our buckets of dust-collecting toys gets larger, and we’re left wondering why we spent so much money for something with such little use. To help you avoid these frustrating situations, we’ve put together a list of the five best cat toys most recommended by experts, plus a few honorable mentions.

As cat parents, we recognize each cat has its own unique personality, and research backs this up. The University of Helsinki reports there are seven distinct personality and behavioral traits displayed by cats, covering areas such as activity, sociability, and aggression. With that in mind, is it any wonder that our feline friends enjoy such a variety of cat toys? While some love to chase, others focus on kicking and biting. Of course, there are those that are only in it for the catnip.

And guess what: Playtime is beneficial for your cat, helping improve bonding and sociability, and leading to improved physical health. It’s vital to ensure they always have a toy at hand — or should that be to paw? There is an enormous variety of toys available for cats, but when it came time to see what the experts recommend, there were several toys that were featured repeatedly. Our consensus list of the top five cat toys is comprised of the products found most frequently across 15 experts’ reviews. Read on to find out more about the most popular selections.

The List: Consensus Top 5 Cat Toys, According To Feline Fanatics

1. PetStages Tower of Tracks

Petstages plastic ball tower toy
Petstages 3-Tier Cat Toy

According to The Spruce Pets, “If your senior feline friend seems a little less active these days, the Petstages Tower of Tracks is the ideal solution…When your cat bats at the balls, they spin and roll, but don’t leave the designated track. This satisfies your cat’s hunting instinct but since the balls don’t leave the tower, your elder cat won’t have to chase them around the room or go looking for them under the couch (and neither will you!)”

Treehugger recognizes that we aren’t always around to play with our cats. “The PetStages Tower of Tracks is a good toy for a cat that is home alone and needs a fun way to keep their mind and body engaged.”

Trusted Housesitters highlight that it’s not all just about physical play. “This toy is just as mentally stimulating as it is physically, with brightly coloured balls designed to capture and hold your furry mog’s attention. The non-slip base and safety bar at the top help to keep your kitty safe when things get a little out of hand.”

2. Yeowww Catnip Banana

Catnip cat toy shaped like banana
Yeowww Catnip Banana

Pets Radar says, “Yeowww is a big name when it comes to catnip toys and this brilliant banana is crammed full of premium quality, organic catnip that’s grown without pesticides. Much bigger than the average catnip toy, there’s plenty here for mini tigers to get their paws around so don’t be surprised to see your feline holding one end and bunny kicking the other, all in the name of exercising those natural hunting skills.”

Daily Paws loves this toy but offers a word of caution for owners of active cats, “Catnip lovers go crazy for the catnip-filled fruit, kicking it, licking it, and “killing” it again and again. (Keep in mind it might not withstand the wrath of kitties who like to play rough with their toys.)”

All About Cats is reassuring about safety, “This yellow banana catnip toy is made from durable cotton twill and dyed using natural vegetable-based color. The catnip is 100% organic, so you don’t have to worry about pesticides or other chemicals, and it doesn’t contain any filler or plastic pieces.”

3. Potaroma Electric Flopping Fish

grey electric flopping fish cat toy
Potaroma Flopping Fish Toy

According to Rover, “This popular electronic flopping fish cat toy has become an internet sensation with nearly 14,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. The rechargeable interactive toy won’t be a winner with every cat, but it’s capable of producing strong reactions and devoted fans.”

Wirecutter recommends this for cats that are eager to catch their prey, “This padded fabric fish toy is interactive. And because its built-in motor has a motion sensor, as soon as it’s touched, the fish will start wiggling around, allowing your cat to give chase or lie in wait, ready to unleash their inner hunter.”

BuzzFeed highlights sustainability, “Since it’s rechargeable, you won’t need to stock up on batteries either.”

4. PetDroid Bolts Robotic Cat Toy

gray robotic cat toy with colorful feathers
PetDroid Robotic Cat Toy

Variety is important for cats, as Good Housekeeping says, “These rolling toys work on carpet, tile and wood floors and ambulate in a similar way to natural prey. The set also comes with several attachments, so your cat can play with a crinkle ball one day, a ribbon another and a feather the next to keep them engaged.”

USA Today appreciates that this toy allows for independent play, “We all have moments when we’d prefer our cats to entertain themselves. Some cats love independent play, but just as many tend to get bored with toys they have to manipulate themselves. This robotic cat toy is the perfect compromise for keeping your kitty occupied while you have to take a video call.”

5. Cat Dancer Rainbow Charmer

rainbow colored string on a stick cat toy
Cat Dancer Cat Toy

Tech Gear Lab says, “This wand toy elicits jumping, swatting, and pouncing from our tester cats, yielding moderate to extreme levels of cat engagement and play level…The Rainbow Charmer provides a meaningful connection between cat and human, along with the ability to showcase a cat’s athleticism and adorable antics, making this toy a winner.”

Sometimes keeping it simple is best as Reviewed explains, “There are plenty of unique and fancy cat toys on the market, but there are few as reliable as a good old-fashioned wand charmer. Wand toys are highly interactive and easy to control, so they’re great if you want to get moving along with your cat.”

Honorable Mentions

There were a few products that were mentioned so many times that we wanted to share them in case you are looking for something specific.

Kitty City Cat Tunnel Bed

cat bed with a tunnel on the outside
Kitty City Cat Tunnel Bed

Good Housekeeping is impressed by the dual nature of this product: “We love a toy that multitasks, and this one doubles as a bed and a play tunnel. Perfect for cats who like to burrow and hide, it’s got space for them to either get out of sight or take an all-day snooze.”

Youngever Cat Toy Assortment

fish cat toy with zipper, catnip refillable
Youngever Refillable Cat Toys

Reviewed has the lowdown on who this product fits best, “All in all, this set is a win for buyers whose cats go through toys fast, and who are looking for quantity rather than a product that will last for years.”

Bergan Turbo Scratcher

circular cat toy with ball and scratcher
Bergan Mega Turbo Scratcher

Finally, USA Today is a fan of another toy that will suit many cats, “Thousands of reviewers report that their cats love this toy. Multi-purpose toys are always a safer bet. They increase the chances your kitty will find something to enjoy. Here that could mean the scratcher (with or without catnip), the ball track, or all of the above.”

Sources used for our list:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. Study Finds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. 

About Alison Wood

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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11 Comments

  1. Bob A. says:

    You left out “cardboard box” and other relatively simple things such as small balls, feather toys and toy mice. Cats don’t need high tech to have fun. 🙂

    1. LJ Earp says:

      Box with or without extra holes… & string!

      1. Kim says:

        Indeed I cut cat sized openings on several sides of a box my vacuum came in and strung couple hanging balls within. He loved it.

      2. TheAnimalLady says:

        No strings or yarn of any kind!!! It gets caught up on their papillae (tongue barbs) and they CANNOT spit it out on their own! Too much of this and they WILL get an Impacted Bowel and need surgery. Same thing happens with long human hair, they can get a bezoar.

  2. James palmer says:

    Typical American psychobabble thinking they know everything about cats

    1. James Boon says:

      I believe the article sites Helsinki, so try again.

  3. Ray says:

    Would have helped if you had pictures and prices.

    1. Kristin Beazley says:

      Agreed!

  4. Eddie Biggles says:

    I have 2 Bengals and I have to say there are some definite classics on this list. I’m usually prepared to be disappointed by these, but I think I own just about every one of these toys. The flopping fish is a looser for my crew. The two wheel robot kinda hit and miss. The rainbow cat dancer is a favorite over 25 years old at this point. This is a great list for getting started without spitballing .

  5. Claire Maguire says:

    Pictures and prices ???!

  6. Jenna says:

    Prices? Pics? Pleeeease.