7 High-Tech Toys Your Cat Will Go Wild For

Stoke your little lion’s hunting instinct with these electronic cat toys.

by Charles Manning | expert review by Cristin Tamburo, CFTBS, CAFTP
August 29, 2021
Bengal cat running on indoor wheel
Artour K. Photography / Shutterstock

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High-tech cat toys can seem needlessly complex to the uninitiated. After all, many cats seem perfectly happy swatting at a piece of string on the end of a stick or wrestling with a sachet of catnip. But just because your cat appreciates the simple things, doesn’t mean they won’t derive pleasure from something with a few more bells and whistles. (Well, not actual bells and whistles, since most cats are quite sensitive to discordant noises, but you know what I mean.)

“Play is so important for cats,” says LA-based certified feline behavior consultant and Wildest expert Cristin Tamburo, a.k.a. The Cat Counselor. “It helps to fulfill their natural need to hunt and can strengthen the bond between cat and human. It can also help alleviate behavioral issues, since cats who are properly stimulated are happier and less likely to act out.” For this reason, Tamburo recommends establishing a regular play routine with your cats and paying special attention to the way your cats like to play. “Some cats like toys they can chase,” she says, “while others prefer cat food puzzles or things they can wrestle with.” She also recommends having a variety of toys, rotating them every few weeks, and keeping them put away when not in use to help prevent cats from getting bored. 

And while Tamburo is especially fond of low-fi, interactive toys like the Turbo Scratcher or the Cat Dancer Deluxe, she’s no cat toy luddite. “Electronic toys can be great for cats,” she says. “They are no substitute for human/cat play sessions, but they are an excellent way to keep cats stimulated when humans are busy.” Of course, higher-tech toys do tend to be more expensive, which can be stressful for parents with finicky felines. Fortunately, she has some suggestions to help get your furry friend on board.

“Some cats are hesitant about new things, so I recommend going slowly,” she says. Try laying the new toy out and allowing the cat to investigate it on their own before engaging them directly. If it’s a puzzle game, make sure you show your cat how to use it. Get down on their level and bat at the thing they are supposed to bat at and let them see how it’s done. And if all else fails, just add catnip. “70% of cats respond to catnip, so spraying the toys with a catnip spray [From the Field is her personal favorite] can help entice them to play.” Finally, consider ending play sessions with a treat. Since play is linked to a cat’s hunting instincts, a treat allows them to complete their prey sequence and will help motivate them to play again.  

Btw, our editors (and their pets) picked out these products. They’re always in stock at the time we publish, but there’s a chance they’ll sell out. If you do buy through our links, we may earn a commission. (We’ve got a lot of toys to buy over here, you know?)

Word GX Laser Pointer

Resist the urge to buy one of those laser toys that rotates and does all the work for you — your cat will either knock it down to get it to stop spinning or just lose interest. Instead, go for a high-quality laser pointer and just wave it around yourself. This particular one has a strong beam, which makes it a good option day or night, and it can take a charge off your laptop, so you don’t have to worry about batteries. “There is a lot of debate surrounding laser pointers, since they can cause frustration in some cats,” says Tamburo. “Personally, I feel they are a good option for most cats, so long as you end the laser play session on something tangible, such as a toy or a treat.”

$30 at Amazon

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Charles Manning

Charles Manning is an actor, writer, and fashion/media consultant living in New York City with his two cats, Pumpkin and Bear. Follow him on Instagram @charlesemanning.