The 10 Best Cat Toys of 2021

Give your kitty something way more exciting than a ball of yarn

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Although sometimes they seem quite content just swatting at a piece of string, cats truly deserve really fun toys. Just like dogs, your feline friend needs mental and physical stimulation, and fortunately there are all sorts of great ways to keep them physically and mentally engaged.

You may think your cat is ignoring you. But things will change when you pull out one of these kitty playthings. Even the coolest cat won’t be able to resist when you offer a catnip mouse or a really huge paper bag tunnel.

These items were chosen with kitty preferences in mind, and of course we gave extra love to companies that used recycled materials or otherwise kept the environment in mind when designing or creating their products.

If you feel like you’re always trying to make your cat happy, here are some of the best cat toys on the market for you to try:

The Rundown
From pouncing to hiding, the playmat encourages all your pet’s favorite activities.
A good toy for a cat that's home alone and needs a fun way to keep their mind and body engaged.
This toy is great for the cat that shows true predatory instincts, even indoors.
The Kong Active feather teaser offers a colorful catnip-filled critter on a lure.
As your cat chews away, this toy helps clean their teeth with a refreshing scent.
Cats love to play and cuddle with this toy mouse and even swat at its dangling tail.
This bright idea combines the fun of crunchy bags with the hiding place of boxes.
A simple LED laser promises hours of fun around the house.
While your cat will love batting these balls all over the house, you’ll appreciate they were ethically made.
This kicker toy is laced with catnip and made from recycled denim.

Best Overall: SnugglyCat Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat

SnugglyCat Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat

This cat activity playmat encourages all your cat’s favorite activities. With the never-ending configurations, there’s room for pouncing, hiding, stalking, and resting. You can hide treats in the folds and send your kitty on a treasure hunt, or use a wand toy to play with your pet when they’re hiding under the rug. Cats can pounce and collapse the tunnels or burrow in the folds. There are holes so they can pop up and play hide and seek. 

We love that the SnugglyCat Ripple Rug is made using recycled plastic water bottles, but it’s durable enough to withstand lots of digging and scratching.

Best for Exercise: Petstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy

Petstages Tower of Tracks Interactive 3-Tier Cat Toy

Spinning balls on three levels of tracks keep cats transfixed as they bat at the colorful toys and race around, trying to hit them over and over again. The PetStages Tower of Tracks is a good toy for a cat that is home alone and needs a fun way to keep their mind and body engaged. It’s also a popular way to hold the attention of several cats as they compete for the whirling balls.

Make sure you get the newest model of the tower that has a safety bar across the top. It keeps curious cats from going exploring and getting stuck in the center of the toy.

"My cat Marbles loves this toy. She can be shy, but she likes playing with this toy both alone or sitting across from a human who's willing help keep the balls in motion." - Margaret Badore, Treehugger Editor

Best Motorized: Petlinks Mystery Motion Concealed Electronic Motion Cat Toy

cat toy

If your cat shows true predatory instincts, this battery-operated toy offers the opportunity to hunt without any risk to nature. The outer casing of the PetLinks Mystery Motion toy is a large ring made from recycled plastic. There’s a fast-moving bundle of feathers peeking out underneath, designed to lure your kitty into a chase. 

The toy has four speeds—slow, medium, fast, and random—to keep your pet engaged and entertained. Reviewers say that it’s the toy their cats “love to hate” as they pounce and stalk the feathers as they race around the edge of the circle. The toy makes a humming, robotic noise that tells kitties it’s playtime. It operates on three AA batteries.

Best Interactive: Kong Active Feather Teaser Cat Toy

KONG Active Feather Teaser Catnip Toy

Sometimes it’s just the simple things: A mischievous cat will entertain itself with dangling shoelaces or knitting yarn. For an inexpensive but decidedly feline alternative, the Kong Active feather teaser offers a colorful catnip-filled critter on a lure.

Spend playtime coaxing your pet into showing off pouncing and hunting skills. Each flamingo, bluebird, or butterfly has bright feathers and crinkly material to make the chase so tempting. Some reviewers say their cats are obsessed with this toy, often dragging it around and choosing it over much more expensive playthings. We also like that it’s made by the durable and popular Kong brand.

Best Chew Toy: Petstages Fresh Breath Mint Stick Cat Chew Toy

Petstages Catnip and Dental Health Cat Toys

Many cats typically eat only soft food and treats, so it’s easy for tartar to build up on their teeth. (Who said “dog breath” is only a canine thing?) This simple chew toy is an easy and fun solution.

The Petstages Fresh Breath Mint Stick chew toy features durable netting filled with fresh mint so as cats and kittens chew, it helps clean their teeth with a refreshing scent. The ends are stuffed with a crinkly material to make the toy even more enticing for play. More than 17,000 reviewers on Amazon raved about how much their cats love chewing and tossing and playing with this toy.

Best for Older Cats: From The Field Shelby The Hemp Mouse

There are lots of catnip mice toys available, but this is certainly our favorite. From the Field products are stuffed with catnip that is organically grown in Washington state without pesticides or weedkillers. The rest of the toy is made from hemp fabric and hemp rope. Hemp is a versatile, biodegradable fiber that doesn’t harm the environment.

Earth aside, some reviewers said this is the only toy that their senior cats were interested in. They love to play and cuddle with it and even swat at the dangling tail. Because the tail is a whopping 4 feet long, you can tie it to a doorknob or swing it over the edge of the chair.

Best for Indoor Cats: Dezi & Roo Hide and Sneak Collapsible Paper Tunnel

Dezi & Roo Hide and Sneak Collapsible Paper Tunnel

Every cat person knows that cats love boxes and paper bags. This bright idea from Dezi & Roo combines the fun of crunchy bags with the hiding place of boxes. It’s a nearly 3-foot-long tunnel with entry holes on each end that provides your pet a place to run, hide, and play. It’s an especially great option for indoor cats who stay safe (and keep wildlife safe) but don’t get to explore the outside world.

Designed by a veterinarian, the tunnel is made of biodegradable paper and cardboard. If your cat plays rough and shreds or pounces until the walls come down, just toss it into the recycling bin. Some reviewers say yes, this is just a really long paper bag tunnel with holes, but that’s exactly why their cats are so enamored with it.

Best Laser: Ethical Pet Laser Exerciser Original 2-in-1 Dog & Cat Toy

pet laser

Most cats like to go after anything that moves, which is why lasers are so popular as kitty toys. There are plenty of fancy battery-operated laser toys that dance light beams all over the house. But this simple, inexpensive handheld Ethical Pet Laser Exerciser lets you shine the LED light on the floor and walls for playtime fun. 

Some vets caution, however, that you make sure you don’t play so much that your cat gets obsessed. One trick is to end your play session by shining the light on a catnip mouse, a play ball, or a treat so your cat isn’t frustrated and ends up by victoriously winning and catching some “prey.”

Best Natural: Friendsheep Wool Dryer Balls

Friendsheep Wool Dryer Balls

Technically, these wool balls are meant to be tossed into the dryer to fluff and soften your laundry, but some people found out that their cats really enjoy playing with them. You’ll find similar items for sale from other companies marketing them as cat toys but these are 100% pure wool with no inner filler or plastic ball and the design is made with non-toxic dyes.

While your cat will love batting these balls all over the house, you’ll appreciate that they are created in Nepal in ethical and environmental friendly working conditions. Plus, Friendsheep works with Eden Restoration Project to plant a tree for every purchase.

Best Kicker: Etsy Denim Catnip Kicker Cat Toy

recycled denim cat toy

Many cats love kicker toys, which let them play on their backs and "bunny kick" their feet. Kicker toys are particularly good for solo cats who don't have a playmate to wrestle. We love this kicker made from recycled denim by Etsy shop MoonflowerCastle.

The denim is durable enough to withstand some rough play, and the addition of U.S.-grown catnip helps kitties know this toy is just for them. It measures 2.5 x 12 inches, and has double-stiched seams, and your choice of colorful appliqué.

Final Verdict

Our top cat toy is SnugglyCat's The Ripple Rug (available on Amazon), for its sustainable materials and many fun configurations. If you’re after a durable wand toy, check out the Kong Active Feather Teaser (available on Amazon).

Why Trust Treehugger?

The proud mom of a rescue dog, Mary Jo DiLonardo has fostered 30 dogs and puppies and a handful of kittens. Her floors are covered in a never-ending collection of pet toys. For more than 25 years, Mary Jo has covered a wide range of topics focused on nature, pets, health, science, and anything that helps make the world a better place. She has spent six years with Treehugger, formerly under the Mother Nature Network brand.