Our feline friends love to play and need to play to stay healthy and mentally stimulated. But sometimes our kitties are too smart for their own good, so they become bored with regular everyday toys much too quickly. And that boredom can lead to our pets making their own fun (often in the form of leaping onto high places they shouldn’t be and knocking things over). What’s a cat owner to do to keep their genius cat entertained?
The key to entertaining our intelligent felines is engaging them with puzzles and interactive toys while offering plenty of variety when it comes to playing (so some regular toys should be included, too). After all, you wouldn’t want to do the same thing repeatedly, would you? If you’re ready to get your cat the best toys to keep it from getting bored, keep reading for reviews of the top ten toys for smart cats!
A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Frisco Bird Teaser with Feathers||
|Best Value||Hexbug Nano Robotic Cat Toy||
|Premium Choice||SnugglyCat Ripple Rug Cat Mat||
|Best for Kittens||Frisco Peek-a-Boo Cat Toy||
|Litterbox.com Rechargeable Laser Pointer||
The 10 Best Cat Toys for Smart Cats
|Dimensions:||19.69”L x 4.53”W x 1.18”H|
|Toy feature:||Catnip, crinkle, feather|
|Material:||Polyester, synthetic fabric|
The best overall toy for smart kitties is actually one of those regular, everyday types. This Frisco Bird Teaser features a cute, feathery friend that will entice your feline to play the day away with you. There’s also crinkly material to keep your cat engaged if the feathers alone don’t do the job; plus, cats older than kitten age will be big fans of the catnip buzz they’ll get from this. And not only will you be engaging your pet’s natural urge to hunt, but since you’ll be playing with it, you’ll be spending time bonding too.
Be forewarned, though, that the bird on the teaser is apparently larger than it appears in the photos, so tiny kittens might be a bit overwhelmed by it. And if your pet is particularly rough or enjoys chewing excessively, this toy could easily be torn apart.
2. Hexbug Nano Robotic Cat Toy – Best Value
|Dimensions:||6”L x 0.5”W x 0.5”H|
Okay, this Nano Robotic Cat Toy looks a bit odd, but it’s proven wildly popular with the felines. Plus, it’s extremely affordable, making it the best toy for smart cats for the money. This interactive toy is designed to mimic the movement of a bug crawling along the floor and is able to dodge furniture and other objects; it can even flip itself over to escape your ferocious feline! And while actual bugs don’t have furry tails, this robotic one does, which means your cat will be even more eager to chase after it. Plus, a battery comes with it, so you can turn this toy on the second it arrives and watch your pet have a blast.
However, there were a handful of complaints that the battery with the toy died within minutes to hours and needed to be replaced. That means you’ll want to have a spare AG13/LR44 battery on hand, just in case. Monitor play time with this toy to ensure your cat doesn’t manage to damage it and get into the battery.
3. SnugglyCat Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat – Premium Choice
|Dimensions:||47”L x 35”W x 2”H|
|Material:||Rubber, polyester, synthetic fabric|
When you want a toy that’s a bit more premium and will keep your smart kitty having fun while getting the exercise it needs, you’ll want to look at the SnugglyCat Ripple Rug. This play mat is designed to encourage several of your cat’s natural instincts, such as hiding, scratching, stalking, and pouncing—all of which means your pet gets the daily activity they need while having a blast. And because this play mat has a thermal base, it also makes an excellent cat bed for when the cat is tired out. Plus, this toy is made to trap loose fur, so you don’t need to worry about fur flying while your feline is engaged.
A few people stated, though, that they had trouble with the mat not keeping its shape after set-up; it simply went flat, so the hidey holes and such couldn’t be used. And a couple of cats weren’t fans of the material used in this toy.
4. Frisco Peek-a-Boo Cat Chute Cat Toy – Best for Kittens
|Dimensions:||18”L x 9.5”W|
|Material:||Polyester, synthetic fabric|
While the best overall cat toy on this list would also be suitable for kittens, the Peek-a-Boo Cat Chute Cat Toy is even better because there are no feathers for your kitty to accidentally eat, making these fun tunnels a safer option. There are a couple of ball toys strung up on the inside, though, so you’ll want to keep an eye on your pet to ensure it doesn’t manage to rip them off or chew on them. Since felines love to hide and explore, your tiny feline friend will love these pop-up tunnels as they provide tons of opportunities to do both (and the hidden toys are just bonuses). According to cat parents, kittens that were overly active were in love with this easy to set-up and store toy!
One complaint, though, is that the tunnels come with some velcro on the ends that were easily chewed up by cats. You may want to remove those before letting your pet play with this one!
5. Litterbox.com Rechargeable Laser Pointer
|Dimensions:||4”L x 0.5”W x 0.5”H|
Laser pointers are a classic cat toy, and for a good reason—felines go absolutely wild over the things! Whether your kitty is young or old or a tiny genius, it doesn’t matter because it will adore the laser pointer. And it plays so well with cats because it ignites those instincts to hunt, chase, stalk and pounce. So, not only is it mentally engaging and fun, but it also allows your pet the opportunity to get in a good amount of exercise! This particular laser pointer is excellent because you can recharge it on a USB (no tiny batteries to buy!). It also has multi-functions, such as an LED flashlight, meaning you can use it yourself.
There were several complaints from people about how the laser pointers they received wouldn’t hold a charge, though, so being rechargeable isn’t necessarily always a bonus.
Ensure to never point the laser in your or your cat’s eyes.
6. TRIXIE Activity Fun Board 5-in-1 Activity Strategy Game Cat Toy
|Dimensions:||11.75”L x 15.5”W x 3”H|
Felines enjoy a good challenge every now and then, and our furry friends are quite food-motivated. So, why not pair those two aspects up and engage your pet with a 5-in-1 Activity Strategy Game? This board contains five different challenges for kitty—from tiny fish bowls to a tunnel—that will keep it curious and engaged for quite a while. And all you need to do is place some treats among these challenges (vary by location each time you use this), then let your cat sniff them out and figure out how to retrieve them. Owners of smart cats said their pets found this board difficult but a lot of fun.
A few pet parents mentioned that their cats with larger paws had issues getting treats out of some areas (such as the tiny fish bowls), though, so be aware of that. And this might not be the best toy for felines watching their waistlines since it involves treats.
7. Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze & Puzzle Cat Toy
|Dimensions:||14”L x 9”W x 3.5”H|
If you want a challenging treat puzzle for your cat, but don’t like the idea of it being plastic, take a look at the Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze & Puzzle Cat Toy. This treat puzzle is made from partially recycled cardboard (and this toy is 100% recyclable). It features several different size holes and shapes for your cat to stick its paws (and possibly head) in to sniff out and retrieve snacks. And because it has three levels of difficulty, it allows your pet to level up on those hunting skills the more it practices! So, you can start out relatively easy, then challenge your cat more and more so it never gets bored.
A handful of people had trouble assembling the box (there are dividers inside to make things more challenging), and a couple of felines seemed to find it too difficult. But many cats enjoyed it immensely.
8. Catit Senses 2.0 Food Tree Cat Feeder
|Dimensions:||12”L x 12”W x 13.8”H|
Are you sensing a theme in these toys yet? Yep, it’s another food puzzle, but this time it’s a puzzle feeder from Catit. Giving your smart kitty a way to work towards its meal will go a long way in keeping it occupied, and this feeder does just that by allowing your pet to “hunt” its food and get it from the top of the feeder to the bottom. Not only does this one encourage the hunting instinct, but if your cat is the type to gobble its food down in one go, this will have your furry friend eating slower.
One reported problem with this feeder was that the tray at the bottom to catch the food didn’t work that well, so food pieces went everywhere and had to be cleaned up. This puzzle also didn’t go over well with lazy cats, as they became bored easily and moved on.
9. Nina Ottosson Petstages Rainy Day Puzzle & Play Cat Toy
|Dimensions:||13.8”L x 14.02”W x 1.6”H|
This Rainy Day Puzzle & Play Cat Toy encourages your kitty’s instinct to forage by letting them swat and bat at pegs and “raindrops” to get their treats or food. And with a total of 14 hidden areas for treats, this toy will keep your pet engaged for quite a while! You can start out easy by putting food or treats into the cups, then when your smart cat has mastered that, you can add more challenge by putting them in the hidey holes. Plus, every part of this is food safe and free of chemicals like BPA, so it’s non-toxic for your pet.
Just be aware that if you’re using particularly small treats or food pieces, they may get stuck in the hidden areas making them difficult to retrieve. Some felines also had difficulty moving parts around to get to the treats. Overall, though, this seems to be a toy that gets played with quite frequently!
10. PetSafe Bolt Interactive Laser Cat Toy
|Dimensions:||3”L x 3”W x 9”H|
As we said, the laser pointer is a classic kitty toy because felines adore it! But what if you’re unable to use the laser point with your pet because you’re busy or away from home? That’s when you need the PetSafe interactive laser pointer. It’s hands-free; you just set it up on a surface and turn it on. It works by using a mirror that turns in random patterns, so you don’t need to worry about your cat becoming bored with the same pattern within minutes. And the laser turns off after 15 minutes, so the battery won’t wear down. It was a big hit with plenty of cats (some got so excited they ended up knocking the laser over, though, so watch for that).
However, a few people said their cats could predict the laser’s movement after a few weeks, and a couple of people thought the laser was too dim for their pets to see well.
Buyer’s Guide — Buying the Best Toys for Smart Cats
Buying toys for your smart cat isn’t all that different from purchasing cat toys in general. Still, there are a few specifics you should look at to encourage more mental and physical stimulation so your pet will stay entertained and have fun.
What Your Cat Likes
While some of the toys on this list are regular, everyday toys, most are a variety of puzzle toys or toys that encourage natural instincts. Whichever type you go with, to get the best toy for your pet, you’ll want to look at the types of natural instincts your cat enjoys indulging in most. Does your kitty love to hunt items on the floor or things in the air? Or does your pet prefer something like foraging or hiding more than hunting? The best toys will be the ones that play into your cat’s strongest natural instincts!
If you go with a toy, such as a puzzle for treats, you need to ensure you’re getting one that matches your pet’s skill level. If you get an advanced puzzle hunt for kitty and it’s never done a puzzle before, you’ll likely have a very frustrated cat on your hands before long! It’s wise to look for toys that have different difficulty levels, too, so you can make the same toy harder as your feline learns rather than needing to buy more toys at a more challenging level.
Variety Is the Spice of Life
Your kitty needs variety in its toys; animals don’t enjoy doing the same thing over and over again any more than we do! So, get the sort of toys your cat will enjoy most based on their favorite instincts, but mix them up, too. Get different types of puzzles or various toys that can be chased. This variety will enable your pet to continue being mentally engaged and help it stay active.
Just checking out a toy’s web page will tell you what it is and does, sure, but it won’t give you the full lowdown on how well it works. For that, you’ll need to look at reviews from other cat parents. Luckily, these are incredibly simple to find (Amazon, in particular, is an excellent place to check reviews!). Be sure you look at not only how well felines enjoyed the toy but if the toy fell apart within weeks or if people reported issues with it.
There are plenty of cat toys for smart cats available, but if you want the best overall, we recommend going with the Frisco Bird Teaser with Feathers Cat Toy, as it offers different textures to play with, triggers the hunting instinct, and lets you bond with your pet. If you’re seeking the best cat toy for smart cats for the money, you’ll want to look at the Hexbug Nano Robotic Cat Toy since it’s very affordable and felines seem crazy about it.
Finally, if you’re looking for a toy that’s a bit more premium for your favorite cat, check out the SnugglyCat Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat that encourages a host of natural instincts and helps your pet get plenty of exercise daily!