Best Catnip Toys

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
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471 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best catnip toys

Last Updated July 2019

One of the joys of being a cat owner is watching your pet react to catnip. A natural chemical in the plant, called nepetalactone, causes an almost euphoric response in many felines that makes them play, pounce, and roll, while others seem to become entranced and ready to nap. Catnip is available in many forms, but one of the easiest, most interactive ways to introduce your pet to this herb is with a catnip toy.

Most cats love to bat around toys, but when catnip is added, the attraction is often intensified. Some toys are made with catnip built into the materials, while others have special compartments that you can fill repeatedly for hours of entertainment.

Catnip toys are entertaining for both you and your pet, but with so many different varieties on the market, how do you choose? Don’t worry, because we’re here to answer your questions so you can find feline-approved catnip toys for your furry friend. After you read our info-packed shopping guide below, check out our recommendations for some of the most cat-friendly catnip toys available.

Most cats react in some way or another to catnip, but approximately one-third of all felines have no response at all.

Key considerations

Why do cats like catnip?

If you’ve ever watched a cat that’s under the spell of catnip, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that your pet is experiencing a buzz. However, your cat isn’t actually high, and catnip isn’t a drug. It’s an herb that’s a member of the mint family.

While there are different opinions as to why cats behave the way they do when introduced to catnip, the most accepted theory is that the nepetalactone in the plant stimulates pheromones that trigger feline pleasure sensors. Not all cats react the same way to catnip. Behavior can range from extreme playfulness to no reaction at all. That’s because sensitivity to catnip is hereditary, and each feline reacts differently to the herb.

The effects cats experience from exposure to catnip typically last up to 15 minutes. Once diminished, it takes about an hour to several hours for the quirky behavior to return with continued catnip exposure.

Types of catnip toys

Stuffed, infused, refilled, sprinkled — there are several ways that cat toys become catnip toys. Here are the most popular to look for as you shop.

Filled: By far the most popular catnip toys are stuffed with catnip. Instead of cotton-like stuffing, the plush toys are filled with loose, dried catnip to give them their shape and entice cats. Some plastic toys also come filled with catnip, but these are less readily available.

Filled catnip toys come in a variety of sizes, from an inch or so to almost a foot long. These toys are often called “kickers,” because many cats have the urge to grab and kick once they’re under the effect of catnip.

The downside to filled catnip toys is that they can be chewed or torn open, so pet parents have to clean up the spilled catnip when this happens.

Infused: Infused catnip toys are less messy than filled toys because they don’t have catnip inside them. Instead, the toy itself, which can be made of fabric, faux fur, foam, or plastic, has been coated with catnip oil. No worries — these toys don’t feel oily, but they do contain the active ingredient nepetalactone that cats react to. These toys tend to lose their potency more quickly than other catnip toys.

Refillable: As the name implies, you can replace the catnip filling in these toys. Most of these are made of soft fabric, and some of them come with a vial of catnip. These toys have a small compartment with a closure, although the catnip tends to fall out of these toys as cats play. If you choose this type of catnip toy, you’ll probably have to invest in more catnip to keep it refilled. However, it’s a handy feature, and you can use just enough catnip to keep your cat

DID YOU KNOW?

Some of the most common reactions to catnip include extreme playfulness, agitation, pawing, rolling, and purring. Instead of being stimulated, however, some cats respond to the herb by becoming relaxed and even drowsy.

Catnip toy features

Materials

Just like cat toys that don’t contain catnip, those that do are crafted from a variety of materials. Here’s a look at the most popular.

Fabric: This is the most common material used to make catnip toys. Cotton, felt, wool, polyester, and nylon are frequently used because they’re soft and durable. They can also be infused with catnip oil or stuffed with dried, loose pieces of catnip. Toys made of fabric are often referred to as plush toys and may have a smooth or faux-fur texture.

Foam: Some companies make foam balls that are infused with catnip. Most cats love to bat at balls anyway, so the added benefit of the catnip adds to the excitement. The downside is that durability can be a factor if your feline tends to play rough.

Plastic: Catnip toys made of plastic have catnip inside. Some are refillable, and some have a faux-fur cover (think furry mice).

Cardboard: Catnip toys made of cardboard are typically designed for cats to exercise their urges to play and scratch. Although not as common as other materials, cardboard catnip toys can be found in various shapes, like balls and cat scratchers, and are designed to be sprinkled with loose catnip.

Designs

Cats have different tastes when it comes to the toys they like to play with. That’s why when it comes to catnip toys, there are as many design options available as there are for regular cat toys. Balls, soft mice, cute critters, fruits and vegetables, and fish can be found infused or filled with catnip. There are also many size options to choose from, including small toys that are easy to paw and large plush toys that are huggable and kickable.

Extras

Not all cats are interested in basic toys; they need a few extra features to get them interested. Just like regular toys, some catnip toys have features like dangling pieces and feathers that encourage cats to paw at them. Crunchy materials or bells embedded into the toys entice cats that enjoy sounds during play. Some catnip toys are also suspended from cords, so you can spend some interactive playtime with your kitty.

Don’t worry if your cat gets bored with a catnip toy after playing with it one time. Because the catnip is either infused or built in, it will reproduce the euphoric effect in your pet time and time again.

Catnip toy prices

You won’t have to invest a lot of money to keep your kitty amused with catnip toys, but you will find a fairly wide range of prices. You can pay as low as $2 and as much as $25, and this price range includes single toys and multipacks of different types of toys.

Inexpensive: If you only want to spend $2 to $5, you’ll find basic single toys and a few multipacks containing two to five toys. Be aware that longevity is likely to be an issue at this price level, so you might want to spend a bit more if your kitty indulges in vigorous play while on a catnip trip.

Mid-range: At about $6 to $15, you’ll find single toys and small multipacks that are better made than their cheaper counterparts. Refillable toys also fall in this price category. Additionally, multipacks with quantities of ten or more toys are priced between $10 and $15, although there may be some durability concerns with some budget-priced sets.

Expensive: If you’re looking for wand toys, large “kicker” toys, and unique designs by companies that specialize in cat toys, expect to pay between $15 and $25. Some toys in this price range are designed to last and may even hold up to the roughest play from the friskiest kitties.

EXPERT TIP

If you have a very young kitten, wait until it’s a bit older to give it a catnip toy. Most kittens have little or no reaction to catnip. The response begins to show up when kittens are about three months old.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Monitor your cat’s first encounter with catnip. If you’ve never introduced your cat to catnip before, keep an eye on your pet the first time it plays with a catnip toy, and make sure the play doesn’t get too rough! If your cat is prone to chewing, make sure it doesn’t tear the toy apart and swallow small pieces.
  • Bond with your pet. Use playtime with a catnip toy as a way to interact with your pet.
  • Look for organic catnip. If you’re concerned about pesticides, look for catnip toys that are made with organic catnip.
  • Toss old toys. When you notice pieces falling off a catnip toy or rips developing, it’s time to dispose of it and get your pet some new ones.
  • Experiment. Don’t be discouraged if your feline doesn’t show much interest in a catnip toy. All cats have different preferences when it comes to toys, and you might have to try a few to find the one your pet can’t resist.

Other products we considered

We’re confident that any kitty would like to play with the catnip toys in our top-five list, but there are others available that also deserve a mention. The realistic fish design of the MAXXV Catnip Fish Toys is adorable, plus we’re impressed that you get three for one affordable price. Each plush fish is packed with high-quality North American-grown catnip and measures 11.5 inches long,  the perfect size for felines to grab, kick, and pounce on while enjoying the catnip effects. The Johnson Pet Products Catnip Pillows are great for determined felines that resort to vigorous play when introduced to catnip. You get two pillows per pack, constructed of two layers of fabric that’s made to hold up to rough play. They’re also filled with North American-grown catnip. Do you love the idea of refillable catnip toys? If so, we think you and your fur baby will enjoy the Petlinks Mouse Refillable Catnip Toy. It’s soft, cute, and easy to refill. And it even comes with a generous tube of organic catnip, plenty for lots of play sessions.

Giving a catnip toy to your pet is a great way to encourage physical activity that can be beneficial to a cat’s health. Even some sluggish, lazy cats are likely to spring into action when under the influence of catnip.

FAQ

Q. How long do catnip toys last?
A.
The answer depends on how rough your cat plays when the catnip reaction kicks in. Any toy can be picked or chewed apart, and some cats are more determined than others to get to the source of the smell. Basically, a catnip toy can last anywhere from a few days to several years. Keep in mind that pricier toys with durable, double-layered materials will stay intact longer than cheap toys made of flimsy fabric. Additionally, just like catnip in loose form, the catnip effect of catnip toys fades over time, which varies from toy to toy depending on its potency.

Q. My cat gets very frisky and tends to play rough when he’s around catnip. Are there any catnip toys I should avoid?
A.
Catnip toys that are uniform in shape, with no dangling pieces, are best for cats that react the way yours does when exposed to catnip. Avoid toys with tails, feathers, foam pieces, and shaggy fibers that can easily be chewed or picked off toys and ingested.

Q. If my cat doesn’t react to catnip, what’s the point of a catnip toy?
A.
Some cats won’t react to catnip, but most will play with toys. Even if the catnip in the toy doesn’t interest your pet, chances are it will still make good use of the toy during playtime.

Q. Are refillable catnip toys easy to refill?
A.
Yes. Most refillable catnip toys have a small, concealed compartment that you open to insert the catnip and close to keep it contained. These toys are usually made of plush materials that hide the compartment so cats can indulge in play without spilling the catnip.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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