How to Choose Toys for Your Cat
have you ever bought your cat a toy that he was totally disinterested
in? I'm willing to bet that it's happened to most of us in our cat
owning lives. According to the Ohio State University's College of
Veterinary Medicine, it's because cats have 'prey preferences' and
you simply bought a toy that wasn't within this group. Here's how to
buy the toys that your cats will play with. (Although cats being the
fickle creatures that they are, who can really tell?)
IDENTIFYING PREY PREFERENCE
Most cats prefer to hunt specific creatures. For example, some cats
prefer to chase mice, while others may prefer to catch birds or bugs.
Identifying your cat's 'prey preference' allows you to buy or make toys
that your cat will be more likely to play with rather than ignore. You
can identify your cat's prey preference by paying close attention to
the way he/she reacts to toys with specific qualities:
Find a number of toys or objects that resemble birds. Examples
include feathers, stuffed toys covered in feathers, objects suspended
in air, and toys making chirping noises. Entice your cat to play by
making each object move and fly through the air. Does your cat
follow the object? Does he/she follow all of the objects or ignore
most of them? Take note.
Next, put those objects out of kitty's sight, and try objects
resembling mice, such as fur, stuffed animals, furry mice, and balls.
How does your cat react when you make each of these objects move?
Does kitty want to chase it? Or is he/she waiting for you to bring the
feathers back out? Try both "bird toys" and "mouse toys" at the same
time by alternating them about every 20 seconds. Which does kitty
prefer? Does he/she prefer some of each kind? Maybe she prefers
both birds and mice!
Finally, put all of these toys away, and try toys resembling bugs.
You can try a laser toy, a string with a knot on the end, and some
dry food or treats tossed across the floor. How does your cat react?
Try to alternate with "bird toys" and "mouse toys" to see which prey
is best. If your cat seems to enjoy feathers and/or objects in the air,
choose toys resembling birds. If your cat prefers furry toys and/or
toys moving on the ground, choose objects resembling mice. If your
cat likes tiny objects with lots of movement, choose toys resembling
Be creative! Once you know what types of creatures your cat would
like to hunt, think of the qualities those creatures possess and find
toys with the same qualities. Think like a cat! When you look for
potential toys for your cat, imagine what kind of animal it might
resemble. After all, a ball of paper is not just a ball of paper, it's
This exercise should take only a few minutes for most cats, but as
you learn to think like a cat, you may change what you think about
your cat's prey preference. If you are successful, you will be able
to find the toys that make kitty want to play! If your cat loses
interest, try a new toy with the same prey characteristics. If your
cat is still not interested, try offering a different kind of prey.
Your cat may enjoy a variety!
NB - when using laser toys please be careful not to shine the laser
into your cat's eyes. This can cause permanent damage.