What your cat wants for Christmas

In the event you somehow forget to get your cat something for the holiday season, we have some tested items that are sure to please your cat as much as they did our furry friends.  Some of these can still be shipped in time for Christmas by Amazon.  But your cat probably won’t care if they have it in time.  Ultimately your cat wants you, your time, and a warm home.  But some of these items will help you connect with your cat.

A new book by the animal trainer for the Harry Potter movies will get you involved with your cat.  Think your cat can’t learn all the tricks dogs know?  Then you need to read Superstar Cats: 25 Easy Tricks to Make Your Cat Shine in the Spotlight.  Professional trainer Julie Tottman explains what is needed (like treats, a blanket, etc.), how long the trick might take, and step-by-step her method of getting Daniel Craig’s cat to lie down on command in Spectre, or Crookshanks the cat to carry an object from point A to B as in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  Get it for your cat or your favorite cat lover for a stocking stuffer available now from Running Press here at Amazon.

Rule one of playtime for any pet?  Don’t let them play unsupervised.  Animal hospitals are full of cats and dogs that swallow a small item, and many toys can be chewed up and swallowed if the cat or dog has enough time to do it.

What have we found to be the #1 toy for our cats?  Just like the National Toy Hall of Fame named the ball, the stick, the blanket, and the cardboard box to its list of toys for humans, our cats routinely pick this over the rest:  It’s the plastic strapping material that holds heavy shipments you might find wrapped around a boxed self-assembled shelf.  Home Depot and Lowe’s have these literally lying on the floor in their aisles, as they are used to hold multiple boxes on shipping pallets.  We learned ours was a toy when a heavy box arrived and the cats went crazy for it.  Just wash it before use.  How do you use it?  Just run it along the floor, twist, or twirl it, and watch your cat go crazy.  And it’s free.  We picked up a few extra lengths from a helper at Home Depot.

The #2 favorite cat toy?  A cardboard box.  Any box will do.  They’ll sleep in it.  Hide in it.  Chew on it.  If you order anything from CatIt, their box has great pre-printed holes, so you pull out the item and your cat is likely to use the reassembled box with cut holes longer than the toy it contained.  Drop in a ball (or another piece of cardboard, or one of these things I don’t remember buying that my cat found under something somewhere) and they’ll never get tired of it until it falls apart and you replace it.  Again, it’s free.

Still want to buy your cat some actual toys?  Here are eight more recommendations, tried and tested by our cats:

Throughout the year you can buy easy-to-assemble cardboard cat houses like the one pictured above.  They typically include a cardboard scratch tray, and some have multiple stories, with a scratch tray as the roof.  The above version was available at Target this holiday season for less than $15.  Or construct your own.

In truth, the #3 cat favorite?  Holes.  Yep, they love to hide in holes, reach in, and grab stuff.  No doubt it’s more of their ancestral drive kicking in.  This next recommendation looks like two carpets.  That’s pretty much it, except it includes holes and Velcro that makes it possible to form and re-form tunnels, trenches, and hills.  Your cat (or cats) will use these for forts, to hide from others (aka stalk their prey), and when used in combination with any other toy below it’s nonstop fun for them (and you).  It’s called the SnugglyCat Ripple Rug (links to the remaining items are to Amazon).

Our cat’s first toy was this SmartyKat brand battery-powered Hot Pursuit, Toy Concealed, Motion Toy. Cats go crazy for it, so much so you really get a sense of the wildcat genetics they have built into them.  Don’t leave this toy unsupervised, as your cat can end up chewing off and swallowing (and choking) the feathered end if given enough time.  It has different speeds you can set.

We started with this Bergan Turbo scratcher ball track set.  They got so good at playing with it, sleeping on it, using just the scratcher, or using just the ball track, we added the figure 8 set below.

This Turbo Track is another good product from Bergan.  One cat will play with this for a good 20 minutes before moving on, or falling asleep on it, or next to it.  Two will actually bat the ball back and forth along the track (and one may even play “catch” with you), and they love reaching their arm under the bridge to grab the ball.  It’s a very sturdy toy that’s fun to watch in action.

Along with the balls incorporated into the toys above, consider a plain old tennis ball.  Our cats seem to immobilize when you roll them one.  They get the urge to have all four feet on it at once, like a circus act.

Your cat likes to rock ‘n’ roll?  It may need this cat scratcher DJ turntable kit.  It spins (so it’s fun) and makes a good scratch post.  Like the above Bergan scratcher, you can’t go wrong with this and it gives your cat a place to work out his claws.

Nothing beats a cat tree (or “cat condo”) as playground and resting spot, and any kind with a tunnel will be a hit with your cat.  You’ll want to vacuum the carpet wool that will get pulled out thread by thread over time as well as the threads of sisal rope, especially for former strays who think they need to eat anything on the floor.  You can get big ones like the above version for $70-$80.  Keep an eye out at Sam’s Club and Costco for deals, too.

You don’t have cats?  Get one at your local animal rescue!  If you have dogs, come back tomorrow and we’ll run down our pack’s favorite list of dog toys.

C.J. Bunce

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