The best way to engage your cat's natural hunting instincts.
Hidden toy engages cat's natural curiosity and hunting instincts. There are multiple speed settings to choose from. Auto-off function helps conserve battery power. Cover is thick and durable. LED lights further engage and entice cats.
Toy can be quite loud, especially when cats trap the toy.
Cats love a good laser pointer, and this simple option is rechargeable and built with them in mind.
A blue indicator light indicates when it is charging. The stainless steel shell is built to last a long time. Includes 3 colors and 5 patterns. Can help train your pet with some creativity. Great for those without much space.
Some claim that the battery dies far too quickly.
A fun and engaging toy with bug-like realness.
Toy's movement accurately resembles an insect. Subtle buzzing noise keeps cats engaged and curious. Toy moves easily around corners and through tight spaces. Available in multiple colors.
Toy does not work well on carpeted floors.
Perfect for cats who love hiding in small, enclosed spaces.
Twinkle lights catch cat's attention, but can also be quite calming. Tunnel has string ties so it can be secured to a table or chair to avoid slipping. Tunnel folds flat for convenient space-saving storage. Top cutout is fun for cats to poke their heads out.
Twinkle lights are too dim for some owners' tastes.
This one takes 2 classic cat toys and giving them a 21st-century makeover.
A spinning ball travels around keeps your cat amused to no end. Random tail feathers add some versatility. Great option that keeps your cat exercising. Built to be attacked for long shelf life. Includes several speeds and auto-shut-off.
Not ideal for small cats, as they might rip it off. Tips easily.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Overweight cats and obesity in the North American adult cat are quite common problems. Considering that there are an estimated 58 million pet cats in the United States, that’s a whole lot of chubby felines. While there are many reasons for the epidemic of feline obesity, one of the most effective cures is active playtime. Electronic cat toys can be part of the fun.
There are nearly endless choices for cat toys available, some as simple as a paper bag for hiding and a ball for pouncing. However, you’ll find many high-tech options as well, and these electronic cat toys not only add extra excitement to your cat’s play sessions, they can also keep your cat happily busy when you are otherwise occupied.
There are plenty of options as well as advantages and disadvantages to electronic cat toys that you’ll want to consider in light of your own feline’s preferences.
It’s certainly true that many cats are thrilled to chase a crumpled ball of paper, stalk a catnip-filled mouse, or leap after a wiggling piece of string. And the time you spend directly interacting with your cat is the best way to deepen the bond between you. It’s good to plan for regular play and exercise sessions to help keep your cat healthy.
But there are times when you aren’t available to play with your cat due to work or family demands. And, unfortunately, many cats simply use that extra time to sleep or visit their food dish. The lack of sufficient exercise added to an overabundance of food is the primary reason for the increase in overweight cats. And just as in humans, significant extra weight leads to a wide variety of health problems in cats, including kidney disease, arthritis, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes, all of which can shorten or even end your pet’s life.
Electronic cat toys, because they provide stimulating sound and movement on their own, thus imitating a cat’s prey in the wild, are one of the easiest ways to get your kitty off its bed and into a vigorous play session.
With so many electronic cat toys available, it’s helpful to break them down into general categories. You can keep your cat’s interest and enthusiasm high by getting it two or more toys out of different categories and rotating them in and out of its play area frequently. Here are some of the most common types of electronic cat toys.
Circling toys: These let your cat experience the thrill of chasing after a “mouse” or “bird” that spins around and around the toy’s central motor. Most of these toys have a round fabric drape that covers the motor but allows a wire with an attached feather or “mouse” to peek out as it circles. Some simple designs just spin in a circle, but better models provide random movements, with the exposed toy changing speed and direction periodically to maintain the cat’s interest.
Pop-up toys: Prey that pops in and out of view is very exciting to cats, and pop-up toys recreate that scenario. These toys typically include a round or square plastic box with small openings in the top and sides. Inside the box, a motor spins a feathered or fuzzy toy on a wire that pokes in and out of the openings as the toy spins. The result is something like Whac-A-Mole. Your cat won’t be able to resist trying to grab the toy prey before it retreats back into its hole.
Fluttering toys: Watch your cat’s excitement when a fly gets into the house and you’ll appreciate the fun of a fluttering toy. These typically have a central box containing the motor plus a wire topped with feathers, strings, or a fuzzy “mouse” sticking out of the top or side of the box. When switched on, the toy flutters around in circles, periodically changing direction or speed. The movement is irresistible to most cats.
Flopping toys: These are generally shaped like fish, although you can also find oddities such as lobsters and pickles. These toys consist of a soft, plush body with an inner motor and plastic frame. When switched on, the plastic frame inside the toy flops and wiggles, making the “fish” move around on the floor in a most enticing way. These are particularly good toys for older or more sedate cats, although plenty of spunkier felines enjoy biting, kicking, and tossing these toys as well.
Rolling toys: These electronic cat toys are basically balls (although some have more of an oval shape) that move along the floor. Some have a remote control that allows you to direct the toy’s movements, but most simply roll in somewhat random patterns. The most advanced toys can sense obstacles and redirect themselves accordingly. Many rolling toys also have attached feathers or streamers for extra excitement.
Chirping toys: The simplest electronic cat toys are chirpers. These are simply plush or fabric toys with a sound module inside that makes somewhat lifelike chirps or squeaks when touched by the cat. You’ll find chirpers in many shapes and sizes, including birds, mice, bugs, and balls. Not every cat is intrigued by these, but some respond quite strongly. This is another good choice for an older or calmer feline.
Laser toys: Pursuing an elusive red dot is a favorite playtime activity of many cats. While most cat lasers are handheld devices for play sessions between owner and feline, there are electronic laser toys that handle the laser for you. Typically, these toys shine a red laser light in random patterns on the floor or nearby walls.
Although the range of electronic cat toys is broad, there are some common features to consider when choosing one.
The most important factor when choosing any cat toy is safety. A good toy has no small pieces that a cat can tear or bite off and swallow, no wires or laces that might entangle a cat’s head or foot, and no materials that are unsafe for pets.
Electronic cat toys run off batteries, generally AA or AAA. These toys are battery hungry; many will burn through the batteries in just an hour or two of playtime. If you expect your cat to play with the toy regularly, you might prefer one that uses rechargeable batteries or that has a USB port so you can recharge it periodically without having to change the batteries at all.
The typical electronic cat toy has some sort of feathery or furry attachment that moves in such a way as to invite attack. With all the biting, clawing, pulling, and pouncing, those attachments often get too bedraggled to safely leave in place. You don’t want your cat to ingest part of the toy. Many electronic toys include one or two replacements, but if not, check that the manufacturer offers them separately.
A frolicking feline will soon destroy a flimsy toy. A good choice is sturdy enough to hold up to your cat’s onslaught of play without tipping over, cracking, falling apart, or malfunctioning.
Because many electronic cat toys have a small motor inside, they can be somewhat noisy. Very timid cats might even be frightened by the sound, or it might disturb you if your cat plays with the toy at night or while you’re trying to work. If noise is a concern, look for a toy without a motor that cycles on and off, or you can only turn on the toy when absolute quiet isn’t a necessity.
Speed: The best circling, pop-up, and fluttering toys have speed controls, usually a Low and High setting so you can tailor the toy’s motion to your cat’s energy level. Toys that move too quickly tend to be frustrating or frightening to many cats, while a toy that moves too slowly isn’t enough of a challenge to hold your cat’s attention for long.
On/off: Because electronic toys wear through their batteries quickly, and because the average cat doesn’t have that long of an attention span, many of these toys automatically turn off after a set period, usually 5 to 15 minutes. Some turn back on again within a certain period of time, but with most, you’ll need to turn them back on manually if your cat wants to continue playing.
Sensor: A few electronic cat toys have a motion sensor that turns on the toy when it senses your cat is near. This is an especially good feature if you want a toy to entertain your cat at night or while you’re away.
Most cats can’t resist chasing a toy that whirls, flutters, rolls, or peeks out of a hole.
Electronic cat toys definitely cost more than other cat toys, but not so much that they’ll break your budget.
Simple chirping toys typically cost less than $6.
Slightly more sophisticated electronic cat toys can be found between $6 and $14. The more you pay, the more likely you are to find a quality toy and/or a toy with more bells and whistles.
Electronic toys with more complex mechanisms generally cost between $15 and $30 depending on the features. You’ll pay toward the lower end of that range for flopping or rolling toys and toward the upper end for more complicated pop-up, laser, or fluttering toys, particularly if the toy combines more than one type of play.
A. Your cat’s biting, pouncing, and pawing might leave its toys a little bedraggled, but don’t put an electronic toy in the washer or the sink. Water will destroy the toy’s electronic mechanism. If the toy is very dirty, try wiping the soiled area with a dampened cloth and a tiny bit of liquid dishwashing soap, then wipe it once again with a clean, damp rag.
A. Cats tend to have a short attention span. It’s a good idea to swap out their toys periodically to prevent boredom. Ideally, you should have a selection of both electronic toys and other types so you always have a few toys put away and a few out for playtime. Every couple of days try moving a toy to a different place in your home or exchanging it for one of the toys that have been put away.
A. Absolutely! Many small dogs and even some rabbits and ferrets enjoy these toys as well. Just be sure the toy is safe for your pet, and keep a close eye on it during playtime.