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Imagine being locked up at home.

No internet, magazine, books, nothing! All you do is sleep, eat, and take a dump – while thinking of all the decisions that got you to this point.

Mere thinking about it makes me cringe. Unfortunately, this is what most cats have to live with.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way!

With the right set of toys, you can keep your cat happy and entertained all day long.

So, how do you choose the perfect cat toy for a bored cat? How can you tell which toy would be an instant hit?

These are questions we are going to help you answer. Before we get to that, let’s see why cats need toys.

Why do cats need toys?

Cats in the wild can get their fix of mental and physical stimulation. They can chase lizards, rodents, try to catch birds and lizards, or just watch the movement of spiders.

However, all that changes when she’s adopted by a human.

These fun activities aren’t available to housecats so they become lazy, obese, and inactive. So toys provide the physical and mental stimulation that indoor-life denies them.

Without this, they’ll go crazy and attack people and other pets for the slightest provocation.

Before we get to the toys, let’s see what you need to look out for in an entertaining cat toy.

I know what to look out for. Jump to the list of cat toys

What to consider when choosing cat toys. 

How to choose the perfect cat toys for bored cats. | best toys for cats home alone
Photo by fan yang on Unsplash

1. Material the toy is made from.

Start by evaluating the material that the cat toy is made of because some cats are picky about what they’ll play with. Toys made from materials they dislike can make them avoid the toy even if you got every other thing right.

So try and recall what your kitty enjoyed playing with in the past. Was it made of lightweight or rigid plastic? Was it snuggly or soft? How does she respond to rope, corrugated cardboard scratching pads, or toys with elastic?

2. Your kitty’s personality, age, and health concerns.

All toys are not made equally nor are they meant for all cats. Some cats love a particular type of toy whereas others cannot stand it.

But, how can you tell if your cat will love the toy you want to purchase? How can you tell if it’ll engage her playful side?

You just have to look at her personality!

If your cat loves pouncing, then a teaser toy will keep her entertained for a long time. Does she enjoy sneaking around and popping out of corners? Is she the lazy type that lies around and takes a swing at toys, or does she always chase? Or is she the type of cat that loses interest in a toy if she can’t figure it out after a couple of tries?

You know your cat best, so you should be able to predict the kind of toys she’ll be into. 

You should also consider her age and any health concerns when choosing. If your cat used to be active but has lost her mojo due to arthritis or painful kidney problems, then you should get a toy that doesn’t stress her much. Or if she has a poor appetite, you can get toys that improve appetite in your cat by releasing her meals in small quantities.

3. Is the toy battery-operated or manual? 

Do you have an indoor cat that needs lots of mental and physical stimulation? Or do you spend half of the day at work? Then your cat will benefit from a battery-operated interactive toy.

Lots of them have an automatic on & off feature, so the toy will come on when your cat is close and ready to play. Then turn off after some time to prevent her from losing interest in the toy – rinse and repeat.

If you want a toy that helps you bond with your cat, then choose something that is manually operated like a fabric wand or a ball.

4. Catnip or catnip-free?

Some cats love catnips and others avoid or merely tolerate it.

You should consider toys that contain catnip only if your cat loves the herb, otherwise, I recommend you avoid. Some cats may become aggressive when they’re over-stimulated by the herb.

5. Is it safe? 

I think most owners have the word ‘safety’ in the back of their minds but don’t understand what it means, so I’ll go into details.  

When thinking of safety, try envisioning yourself from a cat’s perspective:

  • You’re playing with a toy that has many toys attached to it, for instance, the UPSKY Cat Toy Roller, and something detaches into your mouth. As a cat, curiosity will make you swallow it. So when buying a toy, make sure it doesn’t have too many extras that might get loose and choke your cat.
  • Most of a cat’s play and interaction involves her mouth and paws. Make sure your cat toy doesn’t have metal pieces in them that might hurt her mouth or electric circuit that can electrocute her – heck, avoid chew-toys that are plugged to the wall.
  • Cats rarely spit out something that feels funny in their mouth – they swallow. So there’s a possibility your cat might swallow loose pieces of fabric/fur, that colorful ribbon, and other small parts.

You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble by avoiding all toys that undermine the safety of your kitty!

6. Durability.

Even though cat play sessions do not get as rough as that of some dogs, their toys will still deteriorate.

This is normal!

However, you have to ensure that the toy you choose doesn’t become dangerous for her when it deteriorates. When you are choosing lookout for the quality and durability of the following:

  • The strength of the adhesive used: Glue is used a lot in toys, cat condos, cat trees, and other cat accessories. You should ensure that they are very durable or, at the very least, inspect the toy after play sessions to see if there’s any missing bit. Especially in mice toys where the nose, eyes, tail, etc. are held together with glue.
  • The brand itself: Some brands start out with durable products that cost a lot. 2-3 years later when the previous one is damaged and you make a new purchase based on their previous reputation, it doesn’t last as long as before. Don’t let the previous experience fool you, always treat a new purchase as a different one.
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7. How much does it cost?

When I say ‘cost’, I don’t mean how much you pay for it plus shipping – that’s the price. How much will the toy cost you to operate over 6 months or a year – if it lasts that long. And, how soon are you going to get a replacement?

Consider the following point when evaluating the costs.

  • How long will you use it? Do not purchase a toy that’s only appropriate for kittens because cats grow very fast. You’ll wake up one morning to find your cat all grown into a beautiful lady. If you get a kitten only cat toy, it’ll be useless when she outgrows it in 2, maybe 3 months.
  • Are you getting enough value? If the value you’re getting from the toy is proportional to the price, then it isn’t expensive. A toy that helps improve appetite in your finicky eater compared to a food bowl is not expensive – that’s if you consider the cost of treating cats with fatty liver disease.  
  • Expensive doesn’t always mean durable, so don’t buy a toy because of the price tag. Cats grow bored easily and might ignore the toy, thereby rendering it useless after a couple of play sessions.
  • How often do you have to go out in search of fresh batteries? Some toys draw a lot of power from their batteries, forcing you to buy fresh ones every couple of days. If you can get your hands on a toy with a rechargeable battery, then by all means buy it. Or you can hoard AA batteries.

8. Senses and Stimulation.

The other points are all good and valid, however, do not forget that you have a predator in your house. She may no longer be living in the wild, but she still has those wild senses.

Get toys that still feed that primal instinct in her else, you’ll soon be learning how to deal with unprovoked aggression in cats.

Toys such as the automatic cat laser or this robotic mouse that trigger a cat’s hunting and chasing instinct help keep her senses sharp and prevent boredom.

9. Size of the Toy.

Unlike dog toys, cat toys are not made following standard size. 

If your cat is a small breed and you get a toy that’s bigger than her, she could hurt herself while playing or simply avoid the toy since it’s too big for her.

On the other hand, if the cat is bigger than the toy, she might not be able to interact with it the way it was intended. She could end up choking and you don’t want that.

Here are 15 cat toys that will keep a bored kitty entertained for hours.

15 Captivating toys for a bored cat

We’re going to look at 5 distinct categories of cat toys (interactive cat toys, automatic cat toys, tunneling toys, chew toys, teaser and laser toys ). Toys from each category serve a different purpose which I’ll explain at the end of the article.

Interactive Cat Toys.

1. BlackHole Litter Mat Interactive Swimming Robot Fish Toy for Cat. 

best toys for cats staying home alone

Cats love fish! The random and effortless movement they make seems to put them in a trance.

The Interactive Swimming Robot Fish floats close to the surface of the water. And, it does a good job of mimicking the fish-like movement that you are used to seeing. The tail switches tempo now and then to prevent the fish from simply going on in a circle, which would be boring.

It gives off attractive blinking lights that grab a bored cat’s attention and doesn’t let go until the toy auto shuts off after 15 minutes of play. This feature helps save power, so if your cat gets distracted by something more interesting, then the toy won’t just float around when there is no one to entertain.

2. UPSKY Cat Toy Roller Cat Toys 3 Level Towers Tracks Roller with. 

best toys for cats staying home alone

If you own multiple cats and have been struggling with aggressive behaviors, then this toy might help restore some peace.

I have no idea how it works, but the UPSKY Cat Roller Cat Toy somehow manages to make cats forget to hate each other for 15 minutes. At first sight, it looks like something a baby would play with, but it works wonders even on cats that do not play much.

The only con is that it is lightweight and moves a lot when pushed.

3. Potaroma Electric Flopping Fish. 

best toys for cats home alone

The Potaroma Electric Flopping Fish is as realistic as a toy fish can get.

It is rechargeable, flops about like a real fish struggling to get back into water and cats just enjoy the ‘weird’ movement it makes when tapped on the side.

There are sensors by the sides of the fish that cause it to start flopping immediately you tap the fish – not too hard though. You might even love the wonderful sight as much as your cat does.

This entertaining fish comes with a bag of potent catnip for cats that respond to the herb. And when the fish gets dirty? You can easily take out the fish engine and wash the outer covering.

4. Tamu style Cat Spring Toys (60 Pack), Playful Coils for Kittens.

best toys for cats staying home alone

Seems like all cats ever wanted was something that doesn’t sit still because the Tamu Playful Coil Spring is the simplest interactive toy I have ever seen – and it works better than complicated ones.

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You know what makes this toy enticing to cats?

It’s the bouncing and unpredictable movement the spring makes when you toss it out on the floor. A simple touch from her after the spring toy has settled sends it rolling away while wiggling all the way.

What more could a bored cat ask for?

If your cat takes a liking to this spring, I recommend getting more for when they roll under and behind furniture. Else, prepare to bend over and search for it when it goes missing – every time.

The Best Automatic Cat Toys. 

These are toys that you can set up for your cat to play with while you attend to issues around the house. Here is a list of some of the best automatic cat toys for bored cats.

5. Automatic Robotic Cat Toys 

best toys for cats home alone

What do you think would happen if a prey tells a predator “catch me if you can”?  

That would be a memorable hunting experience for the predator – that is, if it succeeds to catch the prey.

That is exactly what happens between your cat and the Automatic Robotic Cat Toy.

The colored feathers, the rolling cat toy, and the attractive blinking lights, all appeal to a cat’s instinct to hunt.

With those huge tires which ensure the toy doesn’t get stuck while trying to escape, I do not think this toy will have any difficulty outrunning an indoor cat – bored or active.

I love the fact that it is rechargeable via USB because I’m not a fan of hoarding AA batteries. And the multiple attachments in case one doesn’t appeal to your cat.

6. YOFUN Smart Interactive Cat Toy – 360 Degree Self Rotating Ball.  

best toys for cats staying home alone

There are very few cats that do not get excited by the sight of a bouncing ball. So how about a rolling ball, one that changes direction now and then?

The YOFUN 360 Degree Self Rotating Ball does these and more. The ball has attractive blinking lights that make it less boring while rolling.

Talk of rolling, I like how smooth the ball moves on tile or plain surfaces. If only it was just as smooth and fast on carpets.  

You don’t need to replace the battery in this one. All you have to do is plug the USB in to recharge the battery when it is low.

7. Our Pets Play-N-Squeak Mouse Hunter Cat Toy.

best toys for cats home alone

If you have been wondering why your outdoor cat brings dead animals home or how to stop it, well… you are looking at the solution to that.

The Pets Play-N-Squeak Mouse is an inexpensive way to keep a bored kitty occupied. Unlike other toys, your cat recognizes a mouse as an animal that has to be hunted to keep you ‘safe’. That means you do not need to introduce her to the toy, simply throw it and she’s off to work on the toy.

The mouse squeaks, but not like a mouse though and it’s not loud enough to be annoying to your ears. However, you should keep it far away from your bed at night because it gets annoying after some time.

The Best Tunneling Toys.

Does your cat love to dig into your bed sheet in the morning, waking you in the process? Then she might enjoy these tunneling toys.

8. Kitty City Large Cat Tunnel Bed. 

best toys for cats staying home alone

The Kitty City Large Tunnel Bed is a giant doughnut-like tunnel with a soft bed in the center instead of a hole.

Simply open and lay it flat on the floor for your cat to crawl through the tunnel and pop out on the other side. Alternatively, you can remove the bed and wrap the cat tunnel around the foot of a cat tree.

The tunnel material is soft, however, that comes with a disadvantage – your cat’s claws may damage the material. So, if you have a cat with sharp claws and you want this thing to last, you better get a painless nail grinding machine.

9. PAWZ Road Cat Toys Collapsible Tunnel. 

best toys for cats home alone

PAWZ Collapsible Tunnel is another wonderful cat tunnel to consider, especially if you have noticed your cat running through a shipping box that is open on both ends.

The crinkle sound it produces is not likely to be a nuisance in the future, but it is loud enough to entertain your cat for hours.

The tunnel rolls smoothly and might be just the kind of stimulation your cat needs to keep her mind sharp. However, I recommend tying the tunnel to something stable until your cat is familiar with going in and out of the holes.

Folding it for storage or opening it up for play is easy and straightforward. You can even do it with one hand – okay, I’m exaggerating, you’ll need both hands to pull the hoops that hold the tunnel in place

10. Prosper Pet Cat Tunnel – Collapsible 3 Way Play Toy.

best toys for cats staying home alone

Where other cat tunnels only allow the cat to enter in one direction and exit through the other, the Prosper Pet Cat Tunnel is a 3-way tunnel that offers your cat something remarkably different.

It collapses and folds into a nice compact shape for storage, but it is not for every cat.

I say that because the silk material is too light. I doubt it will withstand sharp claws. However, if your cat is a good girl, then go for it.

BTW, the tunnel slides all over the floor, so it is up to you to figure out how to hold it down.

The Best Chew Toys for Kittens. 

Does it seem like you have the kitty version of Dracula, one that chews everything in sight? Though they don’t bleed, these kitty chew toys are satisfying to chew on.

11. Yeowww! Catnip Toy, Yellow Banana. 

best toys for cats home alone

Never thought cats were into bananas, but a cat needs her vitamins, right?

The Yeowww Catnip Banana Toy is worth considering for people who have ‘normal’ cats that just need something to chew. If your cat is fierce and relentless, then this isn’t the toy for her.

The banana toy is filled with catnip, which as you probably already know, is most cat’s favorite herb. However, not all cats will respond to the banana as predicted.

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As far as durability goes, that will depend on how aggressive your cat plays with the toy and how long she does so daily.

12. Twin Critters Organic Silvervine Catnip Beer Bottle Refillable Plush 

best toys for cats staying home alone

in vino veritas

That was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the Twin Critters Beer Bottle Plush for cats. 

Playing with it is literally intoxicating and soon enough, if she likes it, it will become her favorite toy to chill with.

That is because they are soft, large, and well-made.

Unlike other toys where you have to discard them when the catnip is no longer effective or the toy is too gross, these beer bottle toys are refillable.

Plus, the zipper for refilling them does not get in the way of play. And, it is not difficult to get the old catnip out or fill a fresh batch.

The Best Teasers Cat Toys. 

I like to call these the “almost got it” cat toys. They test your cat’s reflex – and yours too, without stressing anyone.

13. Pet Fit For Life Worms Teaser and Exerciser for Cat and Kitten. 

best toys for cats home alone

Most cat teasers seem to focus more on getting the cat’s attention than making a good handle for the owner. If I was asked to recommend the best cat teaser toy based on the handle, it would be the Pet Fit For Life Worms Teaser.

That’s because the handle of the pole feels firm as if you are fishing – or catfishing. The string doesn’t tangle on the pole while you are playing with kitty and the worms are so lightweight and attractive your cat will leap for joy – or the worms.   

14. Cat Dancer Rainbow Cat Charmer. 

best toys for cats staying home alone

The Cat Dancer Rainbow Charmer is another teaser toy I recommend for owners that don’t mind spending hours flicking a rainbow ribbon for their cat’s amusement.

It is lightweight, attractive, and doesn’t tangle. The grip is different from the previous one we saw. However, it does not task the arm much since it is lightweight.

I think cats are amused by the way the ribbon dances around, almost as if it is trying to elude them. 

A word of caution when using this toy. NEVER leave your cat alone with it.

I recommend you count the cluster of colors on the ribbon so you can tell if your cat has bitten off and swallow some part of the string.

From, say the purple and black band, count how often it appears until the tip of the pole. Write this number down somewhere, so that if the ribbon becomes shorter and your cat falls sick, you know what to do.

Before we move on to the last cat toy on the list, I have a small request.

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The Best Cat Laser Pointers. 

Legend has it that only the chosen kitty can capture the evil red dot and save the world from destruction.

15. Yvelife Automatic Cat Laser Toy. 

best toys for cats home alone

The Yvelife Automatic Cat Laser Toy is the way to go if you want your cat chasing the red dot all day. It is easy to set up and is better than a handheld laser.

Only downside is the short power cord which limits the number of places you can position the cat laser toy.

If you also have a dog that loves to chase the laser, then that’s a win since it will keep him entertained too. Plus, the distraction will help make your dog’s toys last longer.

You know the best part about this cat laser?

It automatically comes on after about an hour or so. And it has a lever that lets you adjust the aim of the laser. I recommend aiming the laser beam down and away from your cat’s eyes.

Bonus: Ruff ‘n Ruffus Automatic Laser Cat Toy. 

best toys for cats home alone

The Ruff ‘n Ruffus Automatic Cat Laser Toy is another great toy equipped with a laser pointer that can keep a bored cat occupied for hours.

The first thing I like is that you can adjust the speed and rotation of the head – choose between slow, fast, or random. Plus, it automatically shuts down in 10 minutes, however, it is lightweight and as such will easily fall over if pushed.

So, What’s The Best Choice Here?

I’m sure you already have a favorite in mind, however, I have news for you.

Cats get bored easily!

If you get only one type of toy, she will get bored of playing with it sooner than you think.

So, what’s the best thing to do?

Get at least one cat toy from each category and make sure to switch them every 2 days.

You can get the Tamu Playful Coil Spring and UPSKY Cat Roller Cat Toy under the best interactive toys. Then proceed to pick the Automatic Robotic Cat Toy or YOFUN 360 Degree Self Rotating Ball under the best automatic cat toys.

PAWZ Collapsible Tunnel in the best tunneling cat toy can provide enough tunneling experience for your cat.

I bet you could already tell that my choice from the best chew toy for kittens would be the Twin Critters Beer Bottle Plush. And, of course, under the best cat teaser toys, the Pet Fit for Life Worms Teaser with its firm grip wins my heart any time, any day, twice on Sundays.

And, finally, there is the Yvelife Automatic Cat Laser Toy under the best cat laser pointer.

That is enough to keep a bored cat occupied for a long time.

However, an idea just popped into my head while going over these toys. If you want the best cat toy that you or your kid can control, you could get an RC car and attach a string to it – if that is what your cat likes, then you can control the direction and speed of the toy.

That would be a good opportunity to work on your driving skills, don’t you think?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.