Toys that Play Well
Pet owners are on the hunt for unique toys that persnickety
cats will deem captivating and, in response, manufacturers
are upping their game.
BY LIZE TT BOND
Cats are notoriously picky and inventive when it comes to amusement. For Fluffy, a great time might come down to a cozy box or a crinkly piece of paper. With myriad toy options available, cat owners looking for a little diversion for their felines often find themselves at the crossroads of innovation
“Cat lovers are looking for efficacy,” said Jim Boelke, president of Cat Dancer Products in Neenah, Wis.
“Nothing is more frustrating than bringing home a new cat toy, only to find it ignored.”
As pet owners become more knowledgeable about pet obesity and health, keeping a cat active is increas-
ingly important, said Allie Hackett, cat product development manager for R2P Pet in Pleasanton, Calif.
“We are seeing demand for new materials, interactive toys and ways to encourage cats to become
active,” Hackett said.
In pursuit of movement, owners are looking for toys that will both entertain and exercise their pets,
agreed Joanne Wegiel, president of The Cat House in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. Play with an interactive
toy, such as a fishing rod with fur or a feather lure, for example, will bring out the hunting instincts of a
cat, she said.
“Many cats live strictly indoors and will benefit from the stim-
ulation and activity of quality toys,” Wegiel said. “Cats will get so
involved with pursuing, running and leaping that they will get a real
workout while having fun.”
Naturally scented toys filled with catnip, honeysuckle wood or
valerian bring the outdoors in while providing stimulation, Wegiel
The call for USA-made cat toys is also on the rise.
“I see more demand for American-made, quality products,”
said Chris Gardner, owner of Los Angeles-based With A Purpose
Products, maker of the Kung Fu Kitty brand. “Few cat toys are
made in the USA, and many overseas products are manufactured
Manufacturers and pet specialty retailers agreed that cats are un-
predictable, and it can be difficult to pinpoint what an individual cat
While Pattie Boden, owner of Animal Connection in Charlottesville, Va., has not noted an uptick in demand for cat toys, items such
as feather boas, interactive toys, mice and balls, as well as anything
with catnip, are always popular.
“Our best-selling toy is a plain fabric pouch stuffed with locally raised catnip and handmade by a local pet rescue group,”
Toys that will last forever are not necessarily the plaything a
cat will love most, said Errin West, co-owner of The Cat Connection in Dallas.
“The toy that never gets used will last 100 years,” West said.
“Cats are predators; there’s a lot of prey drive there that doesn’t get
met with anything other than the real deal.”
For this reason, The Cat Connection stocks fur toys, such as those
made with rabbit fur, deer hair or wool. These furs are obtained from
the meat industry and not imported from China, West noted.
“We also really encourage wand toys because a lot of cats are
overweight and people can really get their cat going and exercised,”
Wool toys are in demand at Furry Face in Redlands, Calif., along
with other natural toys, said owner Lorin Grow.
“Less popular are the synthetic toys or catnip toys, although catnip is still in demand separately,” she asserted.
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