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Nothing makes us happier than playing with our pets. Especially with an active pet like a tabby cat, it’s always a joy to get them running around the room and enjoying time with us. Tabby cats are particularly social, so it’s important that owners find ways to keep their brains stimulated. The reality though is that all cats are different, and some cat toys tend to work better than others.
In this post, we’ll take a look at 16 toys your tabby cat will actually play with. The toys in this list include some old favorites such as cat lasers and stuffed mice. It also includes some innovative toys that push the boundaries on just how much fun your pet cat can actually have. We’ll also talk about some homemade cat toys that are cost-effective and totally worth the time and effort to make! First things first, what do tabby cats actually like to play with?
What Do Tabby Cats Like To Play With?
The answer to this question is not so simple. That’s because cats each have their own unique personalities and tendencies. Cats for the most part like to play with just about anything, and being a tabby has no bearing on that. Tabby cats are not actually a breed and simply refer to the coat pattern. What cats enjoy playing with does not come down so much to the breed, but rather the age of the cat.
Younger cats are more stimulated and therefore need something that will constantly test their patience and intelligence. Tabby cats are especially intelligent, so make sure to read up on this article to better understand how cats brains function. Older cats, on the other hand, are past that stage in life, and so less active entertainment might be more suitable for them. Overall though there are a few basic types of toys that cats like to play with and we’ve listed them below.
- Stuffed mice
- Catnip (in toys or free)
- Feathers and other soft objects
- Tape and other adhesives
- Rubber or plastic balls
- Automatic toys
- Toys that squeak or make noise
The list could go on, but the point is that cats will play with just about anything they can get their hands on. Most stuffed toys these days have a bit of catnip in them to keep the cat engaged with it. Light objects like feather toys and string are also really popular with cats. It’s not uncommon to see your feline friend get tangled in a ball of yarn having the time of their lives!
Cats are unusually attracted to adhesives like tape and glue, so do use caution with anything that contains that. They tend to gnaw at it with their teeth and that can cause issues later on. Toys that are manually controlled like lasers do well with really hyper cats. Automatic toys or remote control mice or ball toys are great for when you need a break from playtime with your cat. Lastly, toys that make any sort of noise or squeak will always spark the interest of a cat. While that may be annoying after the while for the owner, it’s exciting for them!
Store-Bought Tabby Cat Toys
Picking up on the above list, there are some store-bought tabby cat toys that do really well compared to others. Listed below are 8 types of store-bought tabby cat toys that are definitely worth the investment in your cat’s happiness. All of these categories contain plenty of toys that are easy to manage and most importantly they are safe options for cats.
1. Automatic Interactive Cat Toys
For busy cat owners, the most preferred type of toy is something that is automatic. Automatic cat toys allow owners to flip a switch and let the electronics do the work for them. For most cats, this kind of entertainment works just fine, although tabby cats are usually smart enough to pick up on how things work eventually. Still, with a healthy balance of interactive playtime with the owner, automatic cat toys are an excellent addition to any home.
There are really two types of automatic cat toys to consider:
- Motion Activated/Chaser Toys
There are many motion-based toys that entice cats to chase them around. The first one I would recommend is the Catit Design Circuit Toy. It’s a large-sized toy, so it can work if you have more than one cat. There is plenty of room for multiple cats to play with it.
The great thing about this toy is that it’s hands-off. If you’re a cat owner that wants to sit back and not be so hands-on with your cat, then this toy can be a great solution for you. It’s motion-activated, so whenever your cat walks up to it, it will begin operating. The toy bolts around an illuminated ball. The ball moves at high speeds which will definitely keep your cats attention. The other benefit of it being illuminated is that your cats can play with it at night when they’re bored.
While most cat toys can be noisy, this is not one of them. That means you and your guests can enjoy the home while your cat stays preoccupied for hours. If you want to add additional light-up balls to the circuit, you can purchase those separately here.
Other types of motion-activated toys include mice and other animals. These toys are usually battery operated and run on timers. Because cats are very handsy with chaser toys, they are built with soft, durable material that won’t tear easily from rough play. There’s really a ton of options out there, but we definitely recommend a remote control mouse like this one. It’s not entirely automatic, but it’s a good way to keep your cat entertained and also near you at the same time.
There are many handheld laser toy options out there, but as a cat owner, it can be tiring to do this manually all of the time. With that said, for automatic toys in the laser category, you need to get something that is safe and won’t accidentally harm the cat’s eyes. That’s why we suggest checking out the Pawsome Automatic Cat Laser Toy.
This is a laser toy that can sit on the floor with your tabby cat, or upon a higher surface that they can’t reach. The toy features a rotating head that points a laser directly to the ground. That’s important because the laser opening won’t show directly into the cat’s eyes.
The head spins around in various rotating modes which adds some unique variety to the play routine. We all know that cats are great at picking up routines, so the fact this laser head has 3 different rotating modes helps greatly with that. The random mode is our favorite because it’s really unpredictable! This laser toy is one where you can simply set it up and forget about it.
It’s battery-operated and it even shuts off automatically after 15 minutes which is plenty of playtime for most domestic cats. The Pawsome laser toy isn’t noisy, so it won’t disturb guests or normal functions in the home. One last point to make is that if you’re worried about your cat knocking this over, it probably won’t be much of an issue. The toy is weighted at the bottom, although you need to use your best judgment here and consider the size of your cat. It’s great for kittens and smaller frame cats.
Again there are plenty of solutions out there for automatic toys, and it really comes down to how social and outgoing your cat is.
2. Manual Cat Toys
Manual cat toys are the kind that requires the owner to be involved. This can include anything such as a rubber ball that you throw, or a mouse that you can toss. Here are a few of the common manual cat toys that work really well.
- Stuffed Mice
- Rubber/Plastic balls
- Cat Wand
All of these are really popular, but stuffed mice toys are the easiest to get your hands on. You can find these on any pet aisle in the grocery store and from pet shops and online retailers. While these toys look simple on the surface, there’s a hidden ingredient on the inside, catnip! Catnip is stuffed inside to keep help keep your cats attention. Usually, when you toss this kind of toy your cat immediately responds to the mouse and nearly tries to tear it apart. These toys are relatively inexpensive, come in a variety of colors, and are sure to be a hit with any cat.
Rubber or plastic balls are really popular with young cats. Unlike stuffed toys, your cat has the option to self-play with this kind of toy. Cats typically paw around at the ball, allowing it to roam around the room. The best cat toy balls out there are those that rattle. This is one of our favorites cat bells balls of the bunch. Sometimes cat balls can come in automatic variations too, usually operated by batteries.
Cat wand toys are a lot of fun because they are the best way to get your cat to jump up and down. With that said, you should be careful with using any cat wand toy, especially if your cat has sharp nails. Cat wands can be really satisfying playtime for most cats, but it’s important to let them catch their prey too. Cats can become frustrated and bored with the game if they never have a chance to grab on to whatever toy is at the end of the string.
3. Self-Play Cat Toys
Lastly, there are cat toys that are stationary and self-play. This means that there are no batteries or manual play involved by you. Instead, the cat can go and play with this toy on their own time when they feel like it. Usually, cats do this when they are bored and need a way to entertain themselves.
Below are a few examples of self-play cat toys
- Interactive Cat Tunnel
- Cat Condo Tower
- Scratching Pad Ball
- Self Groomer
- Food Puzzles
Interactive cat tunnels are some of our favorites. These are simply stationary tunnels made of polyester material that cats cannot easily tear into. Most cat tunnels like this one are collapsible. It’s perfect for storing away in a closet when your cat is not using it. Combined with some other toys like stuffed animals and plastic balls, these tunnels can be quite entertaining for cats. I suggest the CO-Z Collapsible Cat Tunnel for two reasons. It has a dangling ball at the exits which keep cats entertained, and it’s also foldable so you can travel with it.
Cat condo towers are really one of the best investments you can make for a cat. I would avoid getting one for a young cat or kitten though as the risk of injury is a little higher than normal. Once your cats are at least 6 – 8 months old, then it’s a wise idea to get one. Cat condos come with a variety of features such as rug like material, stepping ladders, swing sets, and ropes.
They have several openings for the cat to run through and even feather or yarn toys built into them for further entertainment. Some even come with scratching posts. Cat condos can be modified in many ways, and the owner has the option to add or remove various parts to suit their cat’s play area. Go Pet Club has a good cat condo tree here. For multiple cats though, I would suggest going with a bigger cat condo like this one.
Most cats have quite an appetite when they are younger. To help make their meals more entertaining, it’s a good idea to get a food puzzle. These are small playsets where food can be placed. In order for the cat to eat, they have to move the different puzzle pieces around to get to their meal. This is a great way to introduce your cat to treats while also stimulating their brains. Food puzzles are really great attention grabbers and they help when you’re trying to reduce how much your cat eats on a daily basis.
Other types of toys for tabby cats include scratching pad balls that they can roll around. Self groomers are also highly effective ways to cut down on floating cat hairs. Learn more about tabby cats and shedding here.
Homemade Tabby Cat Toys
Unlike store-bought tabby cat toys, homemade toys offer a different perspective. Homemade tabby cat toys can be made from everyday objects like cardboard boxes, string, paper clips even a little bit of paint. The list below contains 8 easy homemade tabby cat toys that you can make. These DIY cat toys will keep your furry little pal happy and it’s honestly much cheaper than going with some of the store-bought variants if you’ve got time to invest!
1. Toilet Paper Roll Cat Pole Toy
The toilet paper roll cat pole toy is the easiest to make. The only items you need are an empty toilet paper roll, yarn, and a stick. Tie the yarn to the stick, and then poke a small hole into the toilet paper roll. with tape or glue, secure the string to the roll firmly. To make the toy a bit more enticing, add feathers or small bells so that it can make noise.
2. DIY Tree Stump Scratching Post
The DIY tree stump scratching post is quite simple. It works best for outdoor cats though so keep that in mind. Simply find a tree stump that you can use. The best stumps are those with loose bark that can easily be scratched off. Lace the tree stump with small bits of catnip and that’s it!
If you want to really get creative, you could purchase a few sheets of cardboard rolls. Cut them into thin 3 1/2 inch sheets and then roll them tightly together. Add on enough layers until your roll is wide enough to resemble a tree stump. On the outside layers, you can add pieces of cork to resemble tree bark. Add a bit of catnip and that’s it!
3. Catnip Ball Made With Yarn
It’s no secret that cats go crazy over catnip! This is one of the simpler toys you can make at home because it only requires a few items. Here’s what you’ll need.
- Glue or Tape
- Styrofoam Ball
Start by covering the styrofoam ball with glue. Next, roll the styrofoam ball into a pile of catnip so that it sticks firmly. Be sure to cover it well so that the scent is strong. , After letting the ball dry, completely cover the ball by wrapping it tightly with yarn. Adding more glue before wrapping the yarn can help a lot. That’s it!
4. Catnip Sock Toy
Cats will chase after anything that you toss into the air. We’ve found really good success with catnip sock toys. These are socks that contain small amounts of catnip which are wrapped tightly in plastic or surrounded with extra filler. To make the toy more enticing you should go with small, colorful socks. Feel free to glue on yarn and other decorations. Some of the best sock toys look like stuffed mice or other things your cat might normally chase.
5. Homemade Cat Condo (Made From Cardboard!)
Store-bought cat condos can be quite expensive, so it might not be a bad idea to create one of your own. Here are a few things you’ll need to really make it stand out.
- One large cardboard box (for the base)
- Two smaller cardboard boxes for the additional levels
- Cardboard napkin rolls
- Braided Manila Rope/Twine
Begin with the base of the cat condo. There is an option to cut a hole here to allow the cat to go inside, however, to keep it sturdy it’s best to leave this box alone. On top of this box, you’ll want to superglue the cardboard napkin rolls vertically. These will support the smaller cardboard boxes which will be glued on top of those. It’s best to go a maximum of 3 levels to avoid heavier cats tipping the structure over.
The other cardboard boxes can have holes cut into them to turn them into little hiding places to play in. If you want, you can even use a pillowcase and tie it to the structure to create a kitty hammock. The braided rope can really be placed anywhere, but its best to wrap it tightly around one of the napkin rolls. This is basically a scratching post for your cat.
6. Puzzle Ball Game
The puzzle ball game is one that really tests a cats ability to problem solve. It’s really simple and only involves a cardboard box with small circular holes cut into it. A 24 pack cola box or something similar works well here. Cut three to four roles of circle holes into the top of the box, and then repeat this for all four sides of the box.
To play the game, simply use a ball that is small enough to fit through those holes. Randomly roll the ball through the sides of the box and notice as your cat looks above trying their best to attack each hole the ball rolls through. This is almost like whack a mole, but very fun for cats!
7. Catnip Pillow Toy
Once again catnip returns with an interesting twist. To make a catnip pillow toy here’s what you need.
- 1 Pillow
- Sewing Tools (I recommend this simple sewing kit)
This pillow toy is comfortable for cats. The catnip helps attract them to it so they also enjoy lounging on it and rolling around too. Simply cut the pillow open at the narrow end and fill it up with catnip. Be sure to use the sewing kit to secure the pillow so that none of the catnip falls out.
The plusher the pillow, the better the toy will hold up. Memory foam pillows tend to work the best. The material is really tough to tear even if your cat claws at it for hours. Feather pillows can also work, but keep in mind that the material tends to tear quite easily.8. Self Grooming Post
8. Self Grooming Station
A great way to reduce shedding is to provide your cat with a self-grooming station. You can make this using the following items
- Toilet brushes
- Rubber puzzle piece
- Plastic Clamps
Use the rubber puzzle piece as the base of the grooming station. Poke small holes into it and then simply bend the toilet brushes at both ends. To help them stay in place you can glue them or use plastic clamps at both ends. It will create a sort of arch that your cat can walk underneath. When they do this their bodies are groomed.