Toys aren’t just for the kids (or the adults) but are also important to our pets. Whether this is a cat, dog or bird, most pets will enjoy playing with toys and if they spend periods of time home alone then this can be an important safety measure. You can have an automatic cat litter box(Click here for more information on automatic cat litter boxes) and a timed feeder but toys can be crucial. Why?
It means the rest of the house is slightly safer from their attention than it would be without the toys! Cats in particular are extremely curious animals and when they wake from their snooze, will find something to occupy them. By providing them with special cat toys, this can take their attention away from other items, such as the furniture or ornaments.
There are some things we have around the house that seem mundane to us humans but will fascinate a cat. One of them is a cardboard box. Next time you have a parcel delivered in a box big enough for your cat to get without getting stuck, leave it open for them to investigate. Within no time, at all they will be jumping in and out of it, sitting in it and probably carrying a favourite fluffy mouse to play inside with. You can also turn it upside down and cut a door into it so they can hide inside and wait to pounce.
Similarly are paper bags – great to jump into and skid around the floor with and shreddable, which might be messy but is better than using your favourite new magazine. If you have more than one cat either a box or bag are great for hide and seek games that they will invent for themselves.
It may be surprising but there are a range of DVDs available for cats to watch. If you watch your cat’s reaction when a bird or a mouse appears on the TV, or even another cat, then you can image the benefit of these. Using sounds and images that the cat will understand, these little films can run on a loop to help keep them interested. The biggest threat may be to the TV if the decide to try to pounce on the screen image.
The traditional cat toys still work as well now as ever. Furry mice seem to inspire the hunting instinct, especially if laced with a little catnip or catmint. Plus they tend to be inexpensive so when they rip them to shreds, it isn’t the end of the world. Some of these make little noises and there are pull tail versions when you want to play with your cat that sends them scuttling off across the floor – imagine the fun that will give them!
In fact, any toy that contains catnip is likely to be a hit with your furry friends. Sometimes cats can get a little too excited with it so when you don’t want them to play with it, store it in a Ziploc bag to ensure they can’t access it.
Finally, balls of any sort are always a favourite. Anything from ping-pong balls to special cat balls will lead to endless running around, swatting and chasing and keep them occupied until they run out of energy or jam them under the sofa.
Play cubes may not be suitable if you don’t have a lot of spare space in the house but if you do, they have endless possibilities. They are a cloth cube with holes in three of the sides and Velcro strips that allow them to be joined together to make a cube tunnel or climbing area. They fold down easily and are lightweight to move around. The other good thing about the material they are made of is that no matter how many times they are punctured by playful claws, they don’t rip or tear.
It is a good idea to swap or rotate your cat’s toys, putting some of them in a cupboard out of the way then bring others out that they haven’t seen for a while. This avoids having loads of cat toys lying around but gives them something ‘new’ to play with periodically. Of course, when you see them having so much fun with their toys, the temptation will always be strong to get them just one more treat.