The best automatic cat toys are perfect if you’re a busy pet parent who isn’t always able to play with your feline fur kid as much as you’d like. Automatic cat toys can help keep your cat engaged for hours all the while providing mental and physical stimulation.
While you might think that the best cat toys are going to set you back a small fortune, the good news is there are plenty of affordable options that come with feathers, lasers, and all the other usual suspects that cats go crazy for.
Automatic and interactive cat toys are a great way of preventing boredom and unwanted behavior, providing vital enrichment and enabling your kitty to expend their energy appropriately. In this guide, you’ll find the best automatic cat toys to suit every age, stage, and budget, including our best pick for cats who are home alone.
1. PetSafe Dancing Dot Laser Toy
Nothing beats a laser toy when it comes to keeping a cat’s attention for longer periods. The beauty of this standalone laser is that it can be placed on any flat surface, or hung from a doorknob – no human intervention required.
The 15-minute setting is great for a short burst of laser-powered fun, while the all-day play mode is perfect if you’re leaving your cat on its own for longer periods – the laser will turn on for 15 minutes every two hours.
It’s also perfectly safe – like most laser toys, it uses a Class 1 laser, which is the least hazardous type. It has three AAA batteries. It is made of plastic material and is best for cats of all ages.
- A laser toy that doesn’t need human intervention
- A timer enables it to be pre-programmed
- Not mains powered
- Potential for loop to catch on items
2. OurPets Bird in a Cage Electronic Spin Cat Toy
This undeniably cute cat toy will keep curious kittens engaged for hours on end, thanks to its bright colors, sound effects ( realistic chirping), and wide range of movements. Our one gripe is the battery compartment, which can be tricky to prise open. It has two AA batteries and is made of Plastic and stuffing-filled cotton.
- Realistic bird sounds
- Wide range of movements
- On the small side
- Potential for cats to snag their claws in the softer materials
3. Petsafe Peek-a-Bird Electronic Cat Toy
This is best for cats who are home alone. It has three AA batteries, is made up of Plastic and artificial feathers. Although this toy is a pretty simple one – a brightly colored feather on the side of this duck-shaped toy moves from side to side – various added extras will certainly prevent boredom from setting in. To start with, there are two modes. One-time-play will prompt the feather to flutter back and forth for 10 minutes, while play-all-day mode will fire up the toy for 10-minute sessions every two hours, although a handy motion sensor will always kick-start the toy when your cat’s nearby.
- Auto shut-off feature saves battery life
- Ultra-reactive motion sensor
- Limited movements
4. PetSafe Automatic Cheese Cat Toy
Even the coolest of cats won’t be able to resist this ridiculously cute toy. The premise is simple – plastic mice pop out from holes on either side of the cheese wedge, only to disappear once your cat makes a lunge. An auto shut-off feature kicks in after 15 minutes of play to help preserve battery life, and the play-while-you-are-away mode will keep boredom at bay when you’re not around. It is best for cats of all ages
- Great price
- Should have more moving parts
- The shape of the plastic mice makes them tricky to grab.
5. Premier Pet Fox Den Cat Toy
The low profile of this toy makes it perfect for older cats. The swishing fox tail will still give your pet a decent workout, and the two-tone design means the tail is easy to spot, too.
It has a mode designed especially for when you’re not at home, and the random pattern of the tail’s movement does a wonderful job of capturing and holding your pet’s attention for longer periods. It is also good for cats with mobility issues. It is made of Plastic and faux fur.
- Sleek and compact
- Bright colors to catch your cat’s attention
- Limited range of movement
- More expensive than it’s worth.
6. Ferplast Tornado Circuit
This toy will keep your cat entertained in two ways: with a colorful flashing ball that moves around the base unit and can be tapped and batted by your cat; and with a fishing hook-style ball suspended from the central tower.
It’s also wonderfully easy to assemble and surprisingly stable. It is best for Fully grown cats.
- Doesn’t require batteries
- Grabs pets’ attention in multiple ways
- Height makes it unsuitable for kittens
- High price tag.
7. Electric Floppy Catnip Fish Toy
Although cat owners who also keep fish might want to bypass this particular toy, it’s proof that some of the best pet toys are the simplest – in this case, two small rechargeable fish that twitch and flap across the floor.
The best bit? They’re stuffed with catnip, making them irresistible to feline friends. It is the best compact cat toy. It does not require Batteries, instead charges via USB. It is made of Cotton and stuffing and is best for older cats.
- Lifelike design
- Charges via USB
- Limited movements
- Sharp-clawed cats could snag their paws
8. Cheerble Wicked Ball
The Wicked Ball is packed with features that won’t simply keep your cat entertained, but will improve their fitness, too. This hi-tech smart toy has been designed especially for when cats have left home alone for short periods, but its rugged nature means it’s one of the best outdoor cat toys, too.
It’s best described as a tennis ball-sized toy that will roll around the floor, relying on sensors to avoid hard surfaces and giving its movements an unpredictability your cat will love. It will work equally well on carpets, grass, or hard flooring. It does not require batteries.
- Charges via USB
- The size makes it tricky for kittens to play with
- Could easily be snatched by dogs when used outside
9. Moody Pet Fling-Ama-String Cat Toy
It is best for energetic cats. Although we’d urge caution when it comes to toys featuring loose lengths of string, this hi-tech teaser is an exception. It’s a battery-powered gadget that can be propped against a wall or hung from hooks and doorknobs.
The premise is simple but irresistible to cats. Simply turn it on (there are two-speed modes), and an internal conveyor belt will start rotating. Attached to this belt is a length of brightly colored, ultra-tough cord that flings through the air as it rotates.
When a cat grabs the cord, the conveyor belt stops, only to start again when the kitty’s claws release.
- Great price
- Brightly colored design
- Can’t be simply placed on the floor
- The string could be a potential choke hazard for cats who love to chew
10. YOFUN Smart Interactive Cat Toy
A smaller, more kitten-friendly version of the Wicked Ball, YOFUN’s toy is a brilliant option for younger cats. Although it’s designed for indoor play (use it on the grass and it will quickly roll to a stop), its lightweight design means it can’t fail to entertain curious kittens as it skitters across the floor, and the bright red light adds to its catch-me-if-you-can appeal. A top tip – place it in a small, brightly colored paper bag to ramp up the fun factor.
- Low price
- 360-degree self-rotation
- Not particularly rugged
- Potential trip hazard.
11. Ebo Catpal Smart Robot Companion
No one wants to be the bad guy that leaves their furry, four-legged friend all alone at home. But when you’re away from your cat for extended periods of time, how can you be sure they aren’t just sitting around waiting for you?
Enter Ebo by enabot! This new smart toy aims to keep your kitty entertained and stimulated on its own while providing peace of mind knowing it won’t get bored or develop major health issues like depression or obesity without proper stimulation and socialization.
- Autonomous and easy to control
- Self-docking charging
- Interaction for both cats and humans
- Remote connection can be really slow
- Additional attachments can increase interest and playtime
What is the best interactive cat toy?
The PetSafe Dancing Dot Laser Toy is overall the best automatic and interactive cat toy.
How do I keep my cat entertained while I’m at work?
- You can leave some of his/her favorite toys hidden around the house so he/she can play with them. In the same vein, you can also leave some food treats hidden keeping in mind their diet. You don’t want to overfeed them.
- You can get your cat some interactive toys. Our guide is the best to help you choose the best automatic cat toys!
- Cats love boxes, Leaving a bunch of boxes of different sizes and shapes while you are gone will surely keep him/her busy and entertained.
- Besides boxes, cats love tunnels. You should leave a tunnel in your house for your cat to play with. The point is to create a fun zone for him/her while you are gone.
- Find your cat’s favorite sleeping spot and leave them some of your clothes or your pillow. The point is to find something that has your scent on it, so your cat can sleep with it and feels you close even if you’re gone. It will help them relax.
How do I keep my indoor cat active?
Bird Viewing Stations
- The reason that domesticated cats kill so many birds and small mammals is that those animals are the natural prey of their ancestors. You can indulge that attraction by setting up a bird viewing station inside. Simply install a cat window perch and put up a bird feeder or bath right outside the window. Your pet cat will have hours of viewing pleasure and the wildlife will be safe.
- Cats are extremely curious animals. If an indoor cat doesn’t have enough stimulation indoors it’s going to get bored and try to get outside. In addition to toys, you can help your cat exercise its natural hunting instinct by hiding its favorite treats around the house. Freeze treats in ice cubes or uses special cat treat puzzles and toys that make your cat work to extract its reward to offer hours of mental stimulation.
Pets in Pairs
- Few of us can be home all day to love our cats, so consider getting a second cat as a companion. Having a buddy to run and play with can go a long way in keeping indoor cats happy and stimulated. Having a feline companion can help keep indoor cats happy.
- Catnip is a plant in the mint family (Nepeta cataria) that contains a natural oil called nepetalactone which has a unique effect on cats. When inhaled, nepetalactone is interpreted by the feline olfactory system as a natural cat pheromone. When cats rub on or chew catnip, it produces a mild natural high that is both harmless and temporary, but that is pleasurable to cats. It can be one more tool to help keep your indoor cat stimulated and happy. Catnip comes in dried form to fill sachets or special cat toys, as well as in spray form to mist toys or cat beds.
- Wild cats are natural climbers, pursuing prey into the trees and seeking high places when frightened. Your pet cat retains those same climbing instincts. Cat trees are a tried and true way of allowing your cat to exercise its urge to climb, and they come in all shapes and sizes to fit your space and decor.
Go for a Walk
- It might sound crazy but it is possible to train your cat to walk on a leash. If you must let your cat outside, this is the most responsible way to do it. It’s easiest to start training your cat when it’s just a kitten, but even older cats can learn. With patience, you can teach your cat to walk on a leash.
- Another way to give your kitty some fresh air is to install a “catio.” A catio is an enclosed structure that you can install in your yard or on your deck or patio to give your cat some time outside without having to put it on a leash or putting wildlife in danger (or your cat in danger from wildlife).
Spay and Neuter
- Always spay and neuter your pet cats. Intact cats can be driven by hormones to try to escape outside to try to find a mate. By spaying and neutering, you eliminate this added stress on your pet cat while at the same time minimizing the allure of the outdoors.
This last one is simple. You love your cat, and that love can be the most powerful tool you have to keep it happy. Often the most effective way of keeping your indoor cat happy is to just pay attention to it.
Snuggle your cat, pet your cat, and play with your cat every day. You’ll be surprised at how far a little attention from its human can go in ensuring your indoor cat’s wellbeing.
Is having an indoor cat cruel?
Cats can have extremely happy, healthy, normal lives when they’re indoors. They’re avoiding the stress that comes from chronic threats (and the physical and psychological problems that derive from that), other animals from cats to coyotes, the cruelty of many people, poisonous plants, traffic, illnesses from infections to feline leukemia to rabies to FIV, being drowned (a problem in irrigation-pipe-ridden cities like mine), toasted, frozen, stolen, trapped, tortured.
Keeping a cat safe by keeping him indoors without the tools to exercise his instincts would be cruel, indeed. So yes, if you are providing a safe and entertaining environment for your cat indoors then it would not be cruel!