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10 Best Cat Toys for Smart Cats in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks  

Cat playing Frisco Bird Teaser with Feathers Cat Toy

Cat toys are essential to have in the house to keep our precious feline friends entertained. Those with extremely smart cats know all too well the challenges of keeping these sharp minds active and stimulated.

For the most part, puzzles and interactive toys are the way to go, but there’s also room for some of your typical run-of-the-mill toys. Variety is key, after all. We’ve looked through the reviews from other cat owners to give you this list of some of the best cat toys for your four-legged Einstein.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Petstages Rainy Day Puzzle & Play Cat Toy Petstages Rainy Day Puzzle & Play Cat Toy
  • Can double as a food bowl
  • No removable parts
  • Made from food-safe material
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Frisco Bird Teaser with Feathers Cat Toy Frisco Bird Teaser with Feathers Cat Toy
  • Made with feathers, string, and crinkle material
  • Includes catnip
  • Comes in two color options
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    TRIXIE Activity Fun Board 5-in-1 Activity Strategy Game Cat Toy TRIXIE Activity Fun Board 5-in-1 Activity Strategy Game Cat Toy
  • 5 activities in 1
  • Non-slip rubber feet to prevent slipping
  • Ideal for intelligent and curious cats
  • Best for Kittens
    Litterbox.com Rechargeable Laser Pointer Cat Toy Litterbox.com Rechargeable Laser Pointer Cat Toy
  • Encourages natural hunting behavior
  • 3-in-1 laser, LED flashlight, and UVB blacklight
  • Comes with a keychain strap and carrying case
  • Doc & Phoebe's Cat Co. The Hunting Snacker Interactive Cat Treat Toy Doc & Phoebe's Cat Co. The Hunting Snacker Interactive Cat Treat Toy
  • Encourages exercise
  • Encourage your cat to problem solve
  • Inexpensive
  • 10 Best Cat Toys For Smart Cats

    1. Petstages Rainy Day Puzzle & Play Cat Toy – Best Overall

    Petstages Rainy Day Puzzle & Play Cat Toy

    Toy Type: Puzzle toy
    Material: “Food safe materials”
    Weight: 2 lbs.

    The Petstages Rainy Day Puzzle & Play Cat Toy is crafted to keep your smarty cat entertained and easily occupied. It encourages foraging behavior by requiring them to pat the begs and swat away at the raindrops to locate the hidden treats within.

    This toy can even double as a cat bowl to keep cats from scarfing down their kibble, as it can hold up to ¼ cup of food. The manufacturer didn’t specify the material but did advise it is made of food-safe material and is free from BPA, PVC, and phthalates.

    There are no removable parts so you don’t have to worry about losing anything, either. There were some complaints of food getting stuck and the material getting scratched after continuous use. But, we still think it’s the best cat toy for smart cats.

    Pros
    • Encourage foraging behavior
    • Can double as a food bowl
    • No removable parts
    • Made from food-safe material

    Cons
    • Treats may get stuck easily
    • Material is subject to scratch marks


    2. Frisco Bird Teaser with Feathers Cat Toy– Best Value

    Frisco Bird Teaser with Feathers Cat Toy

    Toy Type: Wand toy
    Material: Polyester, Synthetic Fabric
    Weight: 0 kcal/nugget

    This wand toy may be the most simple and inexpensive toy on our list, but it is good quality and captures your cat’s interest in an instant. Crafted with colorful feathers, string, and crinkle material, this wand toy gets our pick for the best cat toy for smart cats for the money.

    Nothing can stimulate hunting instincts quite like an exciting wand toy. What’s even better? It also includes catnip for some extra excitement. It comes in blue and pink color options, too. So, if you are ready to get an entertaining bonding session with your cat, this should be your go-to.

    It is a wand toy though, so it can easily fall victim to vigorous play with those sharp claws and vicious little teeth. As excited as they get playing with this toy, it can get torn up easily.

    Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • Made with feathers, string, and crinkle material
    • Includes catnip
    • Comes in two color options

    Cons
    • Can easily get torn apart


    3. TRIXIE Activity Strategy Game Cat Toy – Premium Choice

    TRIXIE Activity Fun Board 5-in-1 Activity Strategy Game Cat Toy

    Toy Type: Activity board
    Material: Plastic
    Weight 3 lbs

    This toy here will certainly put your brainiac to work. This  5-in-1 fun board by Trixie is perfect for highly intelligent and curious cats. It features fish bowl style globes, pegs, an alley, and a tongue and tunnel to provide your cat with plenty of challenges.

    An additional perk? They get a treat if they come out victorious. There are non-slip rubber feet at the bottom to prevent slippage, too. This toy is a bit more on the pricey side compared to others, but it gets our pick as the premium choice for good reason. The only con is that some cats were disinterested entirely, according to the reviews from other cat lovers.

    Pros
    • 5 activities in 1
    • Non-slip rubber feet to prevent slipping
    • Ideal for intelligent and curious cats
    • Treat reward when the challenge is completed

    Cons
    • Pricey as far as toys go
    • Some cats were completely disinterested


    4. Litterbox.com Rechargeable Laser Pointer Cat Toy – Best for Kittens

    Toy Type: Laser
    Material: Metal, coated metal
    Weight: N/A

    What cat doesn’t love a good laser pointer? This rechargeable laser pointer is great for cats of all ages, especially those energetic little ones. This product comes complete with a keychain strap and a carrying case to keep it well protected and prevent it from getting lost.

    It’s not just a laser either, it can also be used as an LED flashlight and a UVB blacklight. You really can’t go wrong with this toy because it will promote healthy exercise, entice their desire to hunt, and keep them stimulated for quite some time.

    The only issues reported were that some of these products didn’t hold charge well and others stopped working fairly quickly.

    Pros
    • Encourages natural hunting behavior
    • 3-in-1 laser, LED flashlight, and UVB blacklight
    • Comes with a keychain strap and carrying case

    Cons
    • Issues with holding charge
    • Some products stopped working soon after purchase


    5. Doc & Phoebe’s Cat Co. The Hunting Snacker Interactive Cat Treat Toy

    Doc & Phoebe's Cat Co. The Hunting Snacker Interactive Cat Treat Toy

    Toy Type: Interactive treat toy
    Material: Plastic
    Weight: N/A

    This small, interactive treat dispenser is made to encourage your cat’s hunting skills by chasing down their prey and getting a treat as a reward for success. It will require some problem-solving skills, though.  The adjustable slide allows you to decide whether getting the treat will be an easy or difficult task.

    This is an inexpensive way to get food-motivated cats up and moving for some good old-fashioned exercise followed by the mental focus it takes to get the treats out. There were some complaints of the treats being too difficult to remove, causing cats to lose interest.

    Pros
    • Encourages exercise
    • Encourage your cat to problem solve
    • Inexpensive

    Cons
    • Treats may be difficult to remove


    6. Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze & Puzzle Cat Toy

    Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze & Puzzle Cat Toy

    Toy Type: Interactive maze and puzzle
    Material: Cardboard, paper
    Weight: 1 pound

    This interactive treat maze and puzzle toy by Cat Amazing is sure to keep your smart cookie busy and well-stimulated. The puzzle will encourage your cat to seek out its hidden treats by sniffing them out and navigating how to get to them. They’ll need to put on their thinking cap to get the job done, that’s for sure.

    This toy is super safe and made from cardboard and paper, so it is recyclable and the print is certified metal-free, so there is no need to worry if your cat were to chew on it. The main issue reported by other cat owners was that some cats lost interest once they got it all figured out.

    Pros
    • Requires thinking skills
    • Encourages natural behavior
    • 100 percent recyclable
    • Made with certified metal-free ink

    Cons
    • Cats may lose interest once they find the treats


    7. EZFUN Cat Toy

    EZFUN Cat Toy

    Toy Type: Interactive ball
    Material: Rubber and ABS
    Weight: 97 ounces

    This self-rotating ball comes complete with a detachable feather and bell. It has built-in LED lighting and is rechargeable by USB. Getting out this toy is a great way to bond with your cat while keeping them mentally stimulated and physically active.

    This interactive ball is very fair priced and gets lots of positive reviews from consumers. The only negative comment about the ball was that in one case the charge only lasted an hour, shortening the cat’s playtime.

    Pros
    • Self-rotating ball for batting around
    • Built-in LED lights for extra enrichment
    • Features detachable feather and bell

    Cons
    • Short battery life


    8. Migipaws Interactive Automatic Whack-A-Mole Cat Toy

    Migipaws Interactive Automatic Whack-A-Mole

    Toy Type: Interactive
    Material: N/A
    Weight: 87 ounces

    If you are wanting to put your smart cat to the test with a fun game of whack-a-mole, look no further. This Migipaws Interactive Automatic Whack-A-Mole axes the moles and replaces them with colorful feathers that are sure to capture your cat’s attention.

    All cats in the house can get in on the fun and it will be quite entertaining for you to sit back and watch the show. The manufacturer states that if your cat were to play with this toy for 30 minutes per day, the USB rechargeable battery should last about 7 days. Some customers did report some charging issues and others did complain that the toy didn’t last long enough to truly be worth it.

    Pros
    • Great for multiple cats
    • Entertaining and exciting
    • Easily captures the cat’s attention
    • Long-lasting battery

    Cons
    • Possible charging issues
    • Reports of some easily breaking


    9. KONG Crackles Gulpz Cat Toy with Catnip

    KONG Crackles Gulpz Cat Toy with Catnip

    Toy Type: Tether
    Material: Polyester, Synthetic Fabric
    Weight: 48 ounces

    This KONG Crackles Gulpz Cat Toy gets lots of good reviews for being simple but super entertaining. It is designed specifically to appeal to your cat’s natural hunting instincts. The fish will crackle when it’s played with and the attached fly has a rattle. The inside is even filled with catnip for some extra fun.

    The majority of the reviews go on and on about how much cats love this toy. Some even explained that though their cat has plenty of toys to play with, she goes for this fish every time. The only downside reported were holes being ripped in the fish after some rigorous play.

    Pros
    • Simple and entertaining
    • Filled with catnip
    • The attached fly has a rattle
    • Fish crackles when played with

    Cons
    • May eventually rip


    10. Catit Play Interactive Grass Circuit Ball Cat Toy

    Catit Play Interactive Grass Circuit Ball Cat Toy

    Toy Type: Interactive
    Material: Plastic
    Weight: 5 pounds

    This interactive toy by Catit is a 3-in-1 way to keep your kitty entertained. Not only does it have a ball to push around the track but the middle features some natural cat grass, which is very beneficial and entertaining for cats. The grass seed and soil are included with the purchase.

    There is a colorful bee mounted along the edge so your kitty can keep entertained by batting it around. It also comes complete with catnip to keep them extra happy. Cat owners complement this toy for being easy to set up and well-received by their cats. The only downfall was that some people had trouble growing the grass and didn’t feel the instructions were clear enough.

    Pros
    • Features a ball and a track
    • Includes catnip and cat grass
    • Colorful bee toy attached for extra stimulation

    Cons
    • May experience issues with grass growth

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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Select the Best Cat Toy for a Smart Cat

    Tips for Keeping Your Cat Mentally and Physically  Stimulated

    As a cat owner, you are probably aware that mental stimulation is an important aspect of your cat’s overall health and well-being. Getting a cat to exercise daily can be much more of a challenge compared to a dog.

    In the wild, cats must roam around in search of prey but our indoor house cats have lost the need for these behaviors but those instincts are still there. Here are some tips for keeping your cat mentally and physically stimulated in its indoor environment.

    Play with Your Cat

    Play not only provides an incredible bonding experience between you and your cat, but it’s also a great way for them to get in their daily exercise and relieve their boredom. Cats of different energy levels will have varying play requirements and stamina, but regardless of whether you have a lazy couch potato or a cat that bounces off the wall frequently, it is highly recommended you set aside some time each day for play.

    Provide Scratching Posts and Cat Trees

    Scratching and perching are two natural behaviors, so having these items in your home will give your cat a safe place to display its instincts. Not only can this benefit your cat physically and mentally, but it can help reduce damage to furniture and other household items that your cat could use in place of them.

    Keep a Variety of Toys

    Cats are intelligent creatures that can become bored easily if they are given the same toy to play with. There is no shortage of toy varieties on the market, so make sure to grab some diverse ones when you start shopping. Make sure to replace them regularly to keep things new and interesting, as they are much more likely to be stimulated by something new and exciting.

    Allow Them Access to Entertainment When You are Away

    Your cat spends all day, every day in the home. When you are away, you should allow them full access to their toys, scratching posts, cat trees, and any other fun cat items you have laying around.

    Try Leash Training

    We realize this will not work for many cats, but it may be worth it to attempt to leash training your cat. Certain breeds are more easily leash trained than others, like the Bengal and the Savannah Cat.

    If you start at an early age and introduce it slowly, the more likely you are to achieve success. If you can get your cat to walk comfortably on a leash, it will allow them to explore the outdoor world with you safely and provide them with some much-needed adventure.

    Consider Building a Catio

    Not everyone will have room for catio, but these innovative little patio ideas sure are beneficial to felines in the household. This will allow your cat to safely wander outside without the worry of escape and the dangers of free-roaming.

    tricolored cat playing with cat toy
    Image Credit: Christian Bodhi, Pixabay

    Types of Cat Toys

    A list of 10 cat toys seems minimal in this world full of variety. That’s why we’ve provided you with a list of all the different types of cat toys that you can shop around for.

    Balls

    It’s no secret that cats enjoy the chase. There are lots of inexpensive ball toys made just for cats, with many of them having bells and other objects inside to give them a little more entertainment.

    Hunting Toys

    Cats are stealthy little predators that have very impressive hunting instincts. Just because they are indoors doesn’t mean those instincts aren’t intact. Hunting toys like mice are a great way to encourage hunting behavior and keep your cat stimulated.

    Wands and Feather Toys

    Wands and feather toys make for great entertainment. They encourage activities like pouncing, stalking, and leaping. Even the most simple of toys can provide your cat with a lot of fun exercise and tons of mental stimulation.

    Laser pointer

    Laser pointers are one of the most popular cat toys on the market, probably because they keep us as entertained as they do cats. Lasers are sure to capture a cat’s attention and they will chase them to the ends of the earth. These are always great toys to have on hand.

    Interactive feeding toys

    Food puzzle toys are great for cats because they challenge them to think and provide a reward when they complete the challenge in front of them. This keeps their mind sharp and encourages healthy play.

    Climbing toys

    Climbing toys are basically trees and perches. A lot of them will come with extra features to play with attached as well. Not only are these great for play, but they are also a great place for your cat to comfortably nap.

    Scratching posts

    Cats love to scratch because it is a natural behavior that is hard-wired in their DNA. Rather than allowing your furniture, carpet, curtains, and other items from getting damaged by those sharp claws, keep a scratching post handy so they can scratch their hearts out.

    Catnip toys

    There are plenty of cats that take really well to catnip and a lot of toys on the market come complete with catnip included. If you have a cat that enjoys catnip, make sure you have some of these toys available when playtime comes around.

    Catnip can really enrich your cat's life, especially if you choose a fun, well-built catnip toy. Our favorite option is Hepper's Catnip Stick Toy, which offers sturdy construction, 100% organic catnip fill, and a great range of colors. These toys are handmade in the USA and feature bite-proof double bagging.

    Hepper Catnip Stick Toy2

    At Pet Keen, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

    Household Items

    You may have realized by now that your cat won’t be too picky when it comes to playing. Not only can you find random household items to turn into a play session, but you can also put together some DIY cat toys from things you have laying around. Hint: Cardboard boxes are a fan favorite.

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    Conclusion

    Petstages Rainy Day Puzzle & Play Cat Toy is a great way to keep your cat entertained as they work hard to obtain the treats hidden inside. The Frisco Bird Teaser with Feathers Cat Toy may be a simple wand toy, but it is sure to keep any cat entertained and it is so budget-friendly that it costs less than most cups of coffee.

    Trixie Activity Fun Board 5-in-1 Activity Strategy Game is sure to keep a cat’s mind moving, as it has plenty of activities all rolled into one. The reviews have spoken for themselves as far as these toys go, but there are plenty of other noteworthy cat toys to keep your smarty cat entertained.

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