The 10 Best Toys for Cats Who Are Home Alone
Just like us, cats don't want to be left home alone all day with nothing to do. But, no matter how much we want to be stay-at-home pet parents, we can't spend every waking moment by their side. So when Kitty's the only one at home, she needs the best cat toys to play alone.
"Feral cats spend up to 80 percent of their waking hours hunting for food," says cat behavior expert Laura Cassiday, MS, CCBC, ABCCT. "Our domestic indoor cats have no need for this lifestyle, but it doesn't mean that the instinct still isn't there. Cats that are able to perform these natural hunting, stalking, and killing behaviors have fewer behavior problems and are generally happier."
Cassiday recommends keeping things fresh and rotating out your cat's toys every week or so. This will keep your kitty engaged with something new instead of the same toys every day (which can get so boring). Here are some toys that cats can play with by themselves to add to your rotation.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Potaroma Flopping Fish ($13)
- Best Budget: Frisco Colorful Springs ($5)
- Best Splurge: One Fast Cat Exercise Wheel ($440)
- Best for Kittens: Petstages Tower of Tracks ($15)
- Best Interactive: OurPets Pounce House ($22)
- Best for Promoting Exercise: Kitty City 3-Way Tunnel ($20)
- Best Motorized: SmartyKat Loco Motion Electric Cat Toy ($17)
- Best Multi-Purpose: SnuggleCat Ripple Rug ($44)
- Best Puzzle: Petstages Buggin' Out Puzzle ($20)
- Best for Scratching: Frisco Scratch & Roll Scratcher Toy ($15)
Best Overall: Potaroma Flopping Fish
Even if your cat doesn't love water, she can still go fishing. A kicker toy with a twist, this fish comes alive when your cat touches it (thanks to the built-in motion sensor) and begins flopping around. The toy has a little pocket where you can pour in catnip to keep Kitty interested, too. And when your cat moves on to something else, the toy stops wiggling.
Best Budget: Frisco Colorful Springs
You don't need anything fancy and battery-operated to keep your kitty entertained. These springs are colorful, bouncy, and will keep her busy as she chases them around the living room. The best part: If she bats one behind the refrigerator or another impossible-to-reach place, there are nine more springs for her to pounce on.
Best Splurge: One Fast Cat Exercise Wheel
If your cat has some serious energy, this could be just what you need to keep her well-exercised and happy. Essentially an oversized hamster wheel, this toy lets your cat walk or run as she pleases. It's especially helpful if you live in a small apartment where your kitty might not have room to sprint, but make sure you have the space for the setup (it's about 3 feet long).
RELATED: 6 of the Best Ways to Keep Your Cat Active Indoors, According to a Pet Behavior Expert
Best for Kittens: Petstages Tower of Tracks
Three tracks, three balls, three times the fun. This tower toy lets your cat bat and chase the colorful balls until she tuckers herself out for a nap. The non-slip base keeps the toy in place (no matter how rough your fur baby plays), and the balls always stay on the track so there's no risk of losing them under a piece of furniture.
Best Interactive: OurPets Pounce House
A fun tent and a feather wand? It doesn't get much better than this. This pop-up kitty house has a motorized feather toy on top that spins around and tempts your cat to pounce. When the feather isn't spinning, the tent makes a fine cat bed.
Best for Promoting Exercise: Kitty City 3-Way Tunnel
This three-way tunnel is the perfect outlet for cat zoomies. With each opening measuring 11 inches, the tunnel boasts that it's the "biggest size tunnel on the market." (Large enough for even the chunkiest chonks.) And there's a built-in jingly ball and catnip toy to encourage playtime and entice stalking.
Best Motorized: SmartyKat Loco Motion Electric Cat Toy
Turn on this toy and your cat will never be bored again. The battery-operated motor spins a feather wand around in random patterns, mimicking prey movements and catching Kitty's eye. There's an automatic shut-off after two hours of play, and the speed is easily adjustable with the turn of a knob. And if your cat loves it a little too much and shreds the feathers, you can easily replace the wand.
Best Multi-Purpose: SnuggleCat Ripple Rug
Scratching post, play mat, and cozy bed all in one: that's the Ripple Rug. Made from hardy carpet fibers and joined with Velcro patches, the mat can be reshaped and molded depending on how your cat likes to play. The holes also make for a fun hide-and-pounce game if you have more than one kitty at home.
Best Puzzle: Petstages Buggin' Out Puzzle
Keep Kitty's body and brain engaged with a treat-filled puzzle toy. Made with food-safe materials and without any removable parts (for her safety), it will make sure she spends her time foraging for some favorite treats while you're busy working or running errands.
Best for Scratching: Frisco Scratch & Roll Scratcher Toy
Scratching is a natural and necessary feline behavior. So pairing a scratch-ready surface with a built-in toy is a foolproof way to keep your cat playing (and save your furniture). The corrugated cardboard satisfyingly shreds—especially when you sprinkle catnip on top—and the ball track gives her something to chase.
What To Look For
When choosing the best toys for a cat who's alone at home, the rule is simple: the more interactive, the better.
"'Dead,' non-moving toys are the least entertaining for cats," Cassiday says. "Battery-operated toys can be good for cats when you're not home, especially those that have an automatic shut-off."
But even if your living room floor is covered in automatic cat toys, don't expect your cat to keep herself busy 24/7. It's important to give her plenty of playtime when you get home.
"Solo toys are great, but they just are not a substitution for interactive play with you," Cassiday says. "After all, a toy mouse laying on the floor is dead. It's not fun to hunt unless it's moving … I recommend trying to play with your cat for at least 10 minutes twice a day."