Enrichment – toys


Toys make a child’s day. They make a cat’s day too.

Like kids, there’s a wide range of toys out there purportedly catering to your cats’ every whim.

However, like kids, cats do not need most of these, because they can make a game out of anything laying around:

  • stringy things – ribbons, string, tassles
  • tissue paper
  • cloth, which may include upholstery
  • soft toys – especially if they’re handy in size and easy for the cats to mouth, hold, swipe, bite, or carry around
  • straws (careful of the slanted sharp end)
  • plastic pocket tissue paper cover
  • containers like cardboard boxes or plastic basins, the more snug it is, the more they love it (Fellowship of the tubbies)
  • balls, especially ping-pong-sized balls for chasing and batting around. Also consider these easily available sparkly ones.
  • newspaper – young cats may develop paper surfing techniques if you have the habit of placing the papers on the floor while reading it. (Do not hope for intact newspapers after the kitts are done.)
  • Look here for more options.

You’d be surprised at how much enjoyment they can derive from a piece of plastic that happens to be dancing in the breeze. But animated objects do fascinate them so.

Rather than buy toys that are likely to end up collecting dust, why not save the money on other things like better food, a quality playhouse, vet fee fund and so on? You can help kitty go green and reduce his carbon pawprints too.

So look around, and see what items around your house your cats might want to make toys out of. Of course, if you can’t stomach the result, put these things away. Also, do watch out for potential hazards – hanging wires for instance and take care of it.

If you are buying toys, aside from considering their function, consider their form.

Frankly, you would not be depriving your cats if you did not buy every cute toy in sight. We’ve bought a lot of toys over the last 9 years. But the only bought toys that our brood ever take to were, for want of a better name, a fishing rod type of toy, something called the Scratch and Play, and prey-size soft-toys (“cat toys” filled with catnip or conventional softies).

Fishing… for cats

Personally baiting: Bam Bam in a tizzy (Note: the bait in these pictures was a real-fur item. We’ve since replaced them all, due to concerns noted in later paragraphs of this page)

Small prey-sized conventional soft toys are also favoured as cats enjoy play-hunting with them. There are literally 10 or such ‘victims’ all over our home at any one time.

For the fishing rod thingy, you dangle the ‘bait’ attached at the end, and the animated bait entices the cat to bat, swipe and bite it. There are many variants of this theme. A great device that facilitates a kitty workout in the name of play.

Scratch and Play

This contraption (demo) called a Scratch and Play is also great if you have kittens or young cats (in general) – self-entertainment at a rate the energiser bunny would die for (pun intended). Joey grew up on one, but the old coots (Teddy and Bam Bam) never took to it.


Well, Bam Bam did like to sit on it.

At the time btmao bought it, Joey was 4 mths and the coots 3.5 yrs old. When Milly first joined us, she was ten months old and loved the toy too. When Philly came in, he was about 3 years, and like the old coots didn’t quite know what to make of it. But it’s not an across board phenomenon – this March we brought Rheilly and Kheilly back at age 4 and 3 respectively, but they managed to figure it out in a swipe.

The center is made of a cardboard rosette, and cats will love to scratch it (even the old coots got this part). The good news is, replacements (or refills) are easily available.

Toys with Feathers
A lot of toys have feathers, but to be honest, it gets too icky (and schtinky) too fast with cat drool, and once it is grubbified, even the cats don’t find it attractive anymore either. So avoid the feathery ones – plus you never know if the dye used may be harmful.

Caring Consumerism
However, whatever the design, on behalf of the Tipped Ear Clan, we would like to ask that you do not get any that uses real fur. Because fur is cruel, and you have no way of knowing what poor animal died for that cute furry toy you’re buying – it could have been another cat.

Here’s a list of fur cruelty references for your consideration:

For more information on being a caring consumer, check this out. Dont forget: go green and reduce his carbon pawprints too!

(Created: 15 Oct 06. Updated: 24 Oct 07)

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