Does Color Matter for Cat Toys?
You may notice that most cat toys are made in primary colors, but do cats actually care about color? While cats do have the “equipment” to see in colors, in particular blues and greens, they don’t seem to particularly care about them.
In experiments with cats, scientists discovered that patterns were more important that colors to cats, which makes sense. Stripes, spots, and blotches of contrasting color likely do more to float your cat’s boat than any neon mouse. If the toy is designed to be chased across the carpet, choose one in a contrasting color so it shows up light against dark or vice versa.
Choosing a Cat Toy for Your Cat
The best toy for your cat will depend first on your cat’s age, and second on his or her individual kitty personality. Kittens go through a period of self-play where they entertain themselves. This includes everything from chasing their own tails to object play—chasing balls, patting objects, “gravity experiments” where they knock breakables off counters and more. But the object play gives way to interactive games with other cats or the human (chasing another cat, wrestling, grappling human feet under the covers).
The intensity and duration of play fade as the kitten matures. Some cats continue to be active as adults and prefer cat-on-cat games, while others prefer interactive toys the owner provides. It’s really a matter of taste, with two key ingredients: (1) movement and (2) human bonding/interaction. Cats don’t tend to play with any animal or human that they don’t like.
Getting Your Cat to Engage in Play
Does your cat just love chasing a clockwork mouse down the stairs but when you try to do the same with, say, a ping-pong ball and all your get is a blank stare? It's possible that for some cats it's as much as about the game as it is the toy. Maybe balls just don’t pop their cork. Maybe the clockwork mouse really tickles their feline fancy. Consider what is different about one toy over another and try to find something similar to the toy your cat seems to prefer. Cats, like toddlers, can become easily bored with toys.
Try to have a nice selection and provide three or four options (per cat) for play, and then rotate them. Put some away for a while so they have fresh ones that spur interest. Another trick might be to store the balls (or any toy) in a plastic sealable baggy that’s filled with potent catnip. That way when new toys come out for the rotation, they also have an alluring scent.