16 Best Toys for Cats Home Alone in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks


When we’re not home, there’s no telling what mischief our cats can get up to. After a long day, there’s nothing worse than coming home to scratched-up furniture and all your valuables knocked off your shelves.

Keeping your cat entertained while you’re away may be easier said than done, as it relies on finding a toy that your cat will play with for hours without needing human input. Choosing between crinkle balls, rolling tracks, puzzles, and electronic toys is where the difficulties start.

We put together these reviews to introduce you to the best cat toys for when you’re gone. Whether you’re day-tripping with the family, on a shopping spree, or at work, these toys will keep your cat entertained and out of mischief.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

The 16 Best Toys for Cats Home Alone — Reviews & Top Picks 2021

1. Catit Design Senses Circuit Cat Toy — Best Overall

Catit Design Senses Circuit Cat Toy

Weight: 6 ounces
Material: Polyester
Independent: Yes
Catnip: No

Our best overall toy for cats home alone is the Catit Design Senses Circuit Cat Toy. Made from a durable polyester, the light-up ball included in this track is battery operated and designed to pique your cat’s interest. The holes in the tunnel cover encourage your feline’s hunting instincts by enabling them to bat at the ball as it passes.

For a unique experience, this circuit toy is expandable using other tracks of the same make. It also requires little to no human input past the initial setup, which makes it perfect for cats home alone.

The light-up ball batteries don’t last long, however, and the only way to replace them is by purchasing new balls.

Pros

  • Expandable track
  • Suitable for multi-cat homes
  • Encourages hunting instinct

Cons

  • Ball batteries don’t last long
  • Replacement balls sold separately

2. SmartyKat Fuzzy Friends Plush Ball Cat Toys — Best Value

SmartyKat Fuzzy Friends Plush Ball Cat Toys

Weight: 32 ounces
Material: Polyester
Independent: Yes
Catnip: Yes

Available in a pack of two, the SmartyKat Fuzzy Friends Plush Ball Cat Toys is our choice for the best toy for cats home alone for the money. Not only are these crinkle balls adorable, but they’re also filled with catnip to entice your cat to carry them everywhere. The included catnip uses no chemical pesticides, to ensure that your cat can play in a healthy way.

Suitable for both interactive and independent playtimes, these SmartyKat Fuzzy Friends give you the option to play with your cat or let your feline enjoy themselves while you’re gone.

Small in size, your cat may lose these toys under furniture while you’re out of the house. The catnip is also not replaceable and can’t be removed from the toys, so it may require supervision.

Pros

  • Catnip included
  • No chemical pesticides
  • Interactive or independent play

Cons

  • Catnip may require supervision
  • Possible to lose under furniture

3. SnugglyCat Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat — Premium Choice

SnugglyCat Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat

Weight: 8 pounds
Material: Recycled materials, polyester, rubber
Independent: Yes
Catnip: No

If your cat loves to play under rugs, the SnugglyCat Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat gives them a durable playmat to scratch, hide in, and sleep on. With Velcro fastenings and safety slits to keep your feline’s playtime safe, cats of all sizes can fit through the multiple holes with ease.

Made from a sturdy carpet material so your cat can scratch to their heart’s content, this mat is also comfortable and makes for a great napping spot. It can be folded into various tunnel shapes to keep your cat interested.

Despite the included safety features to ensure that your cat doesn’t get trapped, it’s a good idea to supervise your cat’s first few play sessions. It might take several sessions before you’re happy enough to leave your cat alone with this option.

As our premium choice, the SnugglyCat Ripple Rug is expensive and takes up a large amount of floor space.

Pros

  • Playmat
  • Scratching spot
  • Durable
  • Suitable for cats of all sizes

Cons

  • Space consuming
  • Expensive
  • Built-in safety features may require supervision to ensure that they work

4. Frisco Cat Tracks Butterfly Cat Toy – Best for Kittens

Frisco Cat Tracks Butterfly Cat Toy

Material: Plastic
Independent: Yes
Catnip: No

Kittens dart between toys like they’re going out of fashion, so the Frisco Cat Tracks Butterfly Cat Toy gives them three rolling ball tracks and a bouncing butterfly toy to keep them entertained. Suitable for multi-cat households, this toy doesn’t contain batteries and can’t scare timid felines with loud noises. Instead, it works to entice your cats to play with the bright colors, along with the bouncing and rolling movements.

There’s a replacement butterfly included, but that part of the toy isn’t durable and may get lost.

While this toy is a great way to keep your cats entertained when you’re at work, it is lightweight and more energetic felines can easily knock it over.

Pros

  • Three-tier track
  • Bouncing butterfly toy
  • Replacement butterfly
  • Suitable for multi-cat households

Cons

  • The removable butterfly toy might break off
  • Easy to knock over

5. Frisco Scratch & Roll Scratcher Cat Toy With Catnip

Frisco Scratch & Roll Scratcher Cat Toy With Catnip

Material: Plastic, cardboard
Independent: Yes
Catnip: Yes

Containing a rolling ball track and a built-in scratcher, the Frisco Scratch & Roll Scratcher Cat Toy With Catnip takes care of both your cat’s claws and their boredom. If the rolling ball toy doesn’t capture your cat’s attention, the included packet of catnip will draw them in and convince them to scratch or bat the ball around the track.

Since the ball is enclosed in the track, your cat doesn’t need human companionship as they play.

Although many cats love the texture of corrugated cardboard, it isn’t as durable as some other scratching materials. The cardboard scratching pad also shreds easily and leaves a mess everywhere, requiring frequent cleanup sessions.

Pros

  • Rolling ball track
  • Built-in scratcher
  • Includes catnip

Cons

  • Corrugated cardboard doesn’t last long
  • Cardboard makes a mess

6. SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Electronic Concealed Motion Cat Toy

SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Electronic Concealed Motion Cat Toy

Weight: 8.8 ounces
Material: Plastic
Independent: Yes
Catnip: No

Designed for independent play, the SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Electronic Concealed Motion Cat Toy is a great way to keep your feline happy while you’re away. Battery operated, it uses a mechanical arm and attached feather toy to trigger your cat’s hunting instinct by mimicking the movements of hiding prey.

Not only does this toy encourage your cat to get a healthy amount of exercise, but you can leave it on while you’re away from home to keep them entertained. There are several different speeds for all cats to find suitable.

Since this toy is electronic, it makes a humming noise while in use and may scare timid cats. Neither the mechanical arm nor the plastic cover is suitably durable.

Pros

  • Encourages exercise
  • Mimics hidden prey movements
  • Different speeds

Cons

  • Electronic humming when in use
  • Not that durable

7. Petstages Buggin’ Out Puzzle & Play Cat Toy

Petstages Buggin' Out Puzzle & Play Cat Toy

Weight: 2 pounds
Material: Wood
Independent: Yes
Catnip: No

Doubling as a food bowl to slow down cats that eat their meals too fast, the Petstages Buggin’ Out Puzzle & Play Cat Toy encourages your bored feline to solve puzzles to reach their treats. Made with wood for durability, there are no removable parts to pose a choking risk to your cat, and it can withstand a beating from eager paws.

Dry food and treats work best with this cat toy because wet cat food can cause a mess that’s difficult to clean up. Inquisitive claws might also get caught in the moving parts.

The wooden construction requires this toy to be hand-washed only.

Pros

  • Encourages problem-solving
  • Can be used as a food bowl
  • Slows down speedy eaters
  • No removable parts

Cons

  • Treats not included
  • Unsuitable for canned food
  • Hand wash only
  • Unsuspecting claws might get caught in moving parts

8. Hexbug Nano Robotic Cat Toy

Hexbug Nano Robotic Cat Toy

Weight: 3 ounces
Material: Plastic, rubber
Independent: Yes
Catnip: No

For cats that are fascinated by bugs, the Hexbug Nano Robotic Cat Toy was created to mimic the movements of insects. Battery operated — batteries are included for out-of-the-box playtime — and soundless to soothe even a timid feline’s nerves, this toy uses vibration technology to move across hardwood floors. The feathered tail, bright color, and simple movements all work to attract your cat’s attention and awaken their inner hunter.

As a small toy, it is easily lost beneath furniture, and the vibration technology only works on hard surfaces. You’re also unable to choose the color of the Hexbug that you receive.

Pros

  • Vibration technology
  • Electronic
  • Encourages independent play
  • Batteries included

Cons

  • Can get lost under furniture
  • Only works on hard surfaces
  • Unable to choose the color

9. Frisco Variety Pack Cat Toy

Frisco Variety Pack Cat Toy

Material: Polyester, plastic
Independent: Yes
Catnip: Yes

If you’re new to cat ownership and aren’t sure what type of toy your feline will like best, the Frisco Variety Pack Cat Toy has a range of different toys for your cat to try.

The tri-tunnel includes a hanging ball toy and plenty of space for multiple cats to hide, play, and nap together. Some of the included toys have catnip, while others are simple crinkle balls or plush mice. As a 20-count variety pack, there’s plenty of choices for multi-cat households to play with.

Your cat may accidentally tear the tunnel material with their claws as they play, and the noise created by some of the toys may frighten more timid felines.

Pros

  • 20-count variety pack
  • Tri-tunnel
  • Includes catnip
  • Suitable for multi-cat households

Cons

  • Tunnel material tears easily
  • Some cats may dislike the noise of some of the toys

10. Frisco Refillable Catnip Cat Toy

Frisco Refillable Catnip Cat Toy

Material: Polyester
Independent: Yes
Catnip: Yes

If your cat is a fan of catnip and squirrels, the Frisco Refillable Catnip Cat Toy combines both of their favorite things. Using soft, plushy material, this stuffed squirrel toy has a sealable and refillable compartment for catnip. It’s machine washable if it gets too grimy or if your cat prefers playing without catnip.

A packet of Canadian catnip is included with the toy. For felines that aren’t used to catnip, the usage of the plant may require supervision. The catnip option may be unsuitable for some stay-at-home cats.

Due to the plush material used in this toy, the faux-fur may shed when attacked by particularly energetic or excited felines.

Pros

  • Canadian catnip included
  • Refillable
  • Soft material
  • Catnip is optional
  • Machine washable

Cons

  • Catnip may require supervision
  • Plush material may shed

11. Ethical Pet Mylar Balls Cat Toy

Ethical Pet Mylar Balls Cat Toy

Weight: 8 ounces
Material: Mylar
Independent: Yes
Catnip: No

Ethical Pet Mylar Balls Cat Toy captures your cat’s attention with its shiny and bright colors. It comes in a pack of four, so you have plenty of backups if your cat manages to lose one. About 1.5 inches in diameter, they’re small and lightweight, enabling your feline to carry and toss them around without human assistance.

These Mylar balls are designed to crinkle and draw your cat’s attention, but some felines may be scared by the noise. They’re also not durable enough to withstand constant attacks from energetic cats.

If your cat prefers to chew toys rather than play, they may require supervision to ensure that broken pieces aren’t swallowed. In this case, these crinkle balls are unsuitable to use for cats home alone.

Pros

  • 1.5-inch Mylar balls
  • Attention-grabbing, shiny material
  • Four-pack

Cons

  • Crinkle noise may scare some cats
  • Fall apart under constant attacks
  • Some cats require supervision

12. Ethical Pet Thin Colorful Springs Cat Toy

Ethical Pet Thin Colorful Springs Cat Toy

Weight: 92 ounces
Material: Plastic
Independent: Yes
Catnip: No

Bouncy and unpredictable, the Ethical Pet Thin Colorful Springs Cat Toy distracts your cat from the tempting valuables that they love knocking off your bookshelf. Lightweight so your cat can easily carry and bat them around, the thin springs are colorful enough to catch the attention of any feline.

These toys are sold in packs of 10, so you can easily replace lost springs, but their size means they often disappear under furniture and kitchen appliances. Due to the plastic construction, the edges of these springs have sharp points that need to be clipped off. Age and sun damage may make these toys brittle.

Pros

  • 10 pack
  • Colorful and bouncy
  • Encourages activity

Cons

  • Can get lost under furniture
  • Sharp edges need to be clipped off
  • May become brittle with age

13. Hartz Just For Cats Peek & Play Pop-Up Tent Cat Toy

Hartz Just For Cats Peek & Play Pop-Up Tent Cat Toy

Weight: 24 ounces
Material: Polyester
Independent: Yes
Catnip: No

The Hartz Just For Cats Peek & Play Pop-Up Tent Cat Toy is a great option for kittens and smaller cats. With the open windows and hanging toys, it encourages exploration and playtime while remaining a safe place for your best friend to take a nap.

Although this toy requires assembly, it’s a simple pop-up construction, so you and your cat can use it straight out of the box. The design also includes a detachable crinkle mat that doubles as a scratcher.

Some cats dislike the noise from the crinkle mat, and the general construction doesn’t last long, being lightweight and easy to tip over. It’s also smaller than some other tunnels and may be unsuitable for large cats.

Pros

  • Detachable scratcher
  • Two hanging toys
  • Pop-up assembly

Cons

  • Doesn’t last long
  • Some cats dislike the included crinkle mat
  • Unsuitable for large cats
  • Lightweight and may tip over

14. Frisco Basic Plush Mice Cat Toy With Catnip

Frisco Basic Plush Mice Cat Toy With Catnip

Weight: 9 ounces
Material: Polyester
Independent: Yes
Catnip: Yes

Frisco Basic Plush Mice Cat Toy With Catnip convinces your favorite cat to play by mimicking the natural look and feel of mice. Fuzzy in texture with string tails, these stuffed mice are infused with Canadian catnip and trigger your feline’s hunting instincts.

Available in packs of three or five, this option is suitable for multi-cat households and cats that are fond of carrying their toys off so you can’t find them.

The catnip in these toys is infused with the general construction and can’t be replaced when it wears out. These mice are also small and are easily batted under sofas, stoves, fridges, and other household furniture.

Pros

  • Three or five-pack
  • Includes Canadian catnip
  • Fuzzy texture and string tails

Cons

  • Can get lost under furniture
  • Catnip can’t be replaced

15. SmartyKat Chickadee Chirp Electronic Bird-Sound Cat Toy

SmartyKat Chickadee Chirp Electronic Bird-Sound Cat Toy

Weight: 48 ounces
Material: Polyester
Independent: Yes
Catnip: Yes

The SmartyKat Chickadee Chirp Electronic Bird-Sound Cat Toy is designed for cats that can’t get enough of watching birds in the garden. Battery operated, this toy mimics real bird sounds every time your cat touches it, calling to their hunter instincts. Stuffed with catnip, both the noise and tempting smell will lure in your cats and make for a fascinating playtime.

Unlike most battery-operated toys, the SmartyKat Chickadee can’t be turned off, and the batteries aren’t replaceable, making the toy useless when the batteries die. The artificial noises may also scare some cats.

As with most cat toys of this size, your cat can carry and toss this one around with ease. It’s also easy to lose under furniture.

Pros

  • Noise is activated by touch
  • Mimics real bird sounds
  • Stuffed with catnip

Cons

  • Can get lost under furniture
  • Noise may scare timid cats
  • Can’t be turned off
  • Batteries can’t be replaced

16. Ethical Pet Sponge Soccer Ball Cat Toy

Ethical Pet Sponge Soccer Ball Cat Toy

Weight: 4 ounces
Material: Sponge
Independent: Yes
Catnip: No

The Ethical Pet Sponge Soccer Ball Cat Toy is made with a foam material that is soft for cats with missing teeth — and for humans who accidentally step on their cat’s toys. Sold in a pack of four so you always have spares or can scatter them in different rooms around the house, these mini soccer balls are lightweight to make playtimes fun and brightly colored to make finding them simple.

Besides being easy to lose around the house, the soft foam is no match for particularly vigorous playtimes, and cats that prefer to chew their toys may accidentally swallow small parts. Some owners have also complained about a chemically plastic smell coming from this toy.

Pros

  • Four-pack
  • Sponge soccer balls
  • Soft for humans to step on

Cons

  • Can get lost under furniture
  • Smelly
  • Easy to tear apart

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FAQ

While searching through the vast selection of cat toys available, you may wonder how to even begin choosing one. If you’re a new cat owner, figuring out the toys that your new kitten likes best can feel like an insurmountable obstacle.

We put together this list of questions to keep in mind as you’re looking through your options. Hopefully, they’ll help you come to an easy decision.

cat playing an interactive toy
Image Credit: Maire, Pixabay

Does your cat like loud noises?

Some cats are boisterous and show no fear. They’ll beg ear scratches from everyone, from your neighbor to the friend whom you haven’t seen in years. Others are the epitome of “scaredy-cats.” They’ll bolt at even the quietest strange noise and disappear before your best friend — the human one — can step anywhere near your doorbell.

Knowing whether your cat is timid or brave will help you figure out what type of toy that they’ll like best. These two types of cats have different preferences when it comes to toys. While your mini-lion may love bells and doesn’t mind the electronic whirring from battery-operated toys, your timid feline might prefer something quieter.

For the timid feline, simple is always the way to go. Try a rolling ball track that doesn’t use batteries or even a tunnel with hanging toys and plenty of space to hide away when the world gets a little too scary.

What is the difference between interactive and independent toys?

There are two types of toys for your cat. Both of them are popular for various reasons, but not all of them are suitable for cats to play with on their own while you’re away from home.

Interactive toys are products that require a human to play along, from laser pointers to those “fishing pole” toys where a feathered ball hangs on a stick. While your cat can probably play with the latter option by themselves without a problem, they’re the sort of toy that’s only truly interesting when their favorite humans play too.

Independent toys, on the other hand, are toys that your cat can play with alone. Battery-operated toys, multi-tiered rolling tracks, or even a simple catnip-infused ball are all varieties of toys that your feline will enjoy pouncing on and chasing around the house, without needing much input from their human friends.

Some varieties are more independent than others, and some are a hybrid of interactive and independent. Like your cat’s favorite mouse toy they keep batting under the fridge for you to find.

two cats playing with toy at home
Image Credit: Axel Bueckert, Shutterstock

Do you need additional benefits?

By “additional benefits”, we mean anything that goes beyond the simple design for the toy — for example, a rolling track with a built-in scratching pal or a play tunnel that doubles as a napping spot. These toys serve multiple purposes. They keep your cat’s playtimes fun and exciting, while also being a good place to keep their claws healthy or curl up and take a nap. Sometimes, simple is better, but depending on how much trouble your cat gets into while you’re away, you may find that you need an incentive to keep them out of mischief.

How much space do you have?

Most toys are small enough to get lost under furniture — much to the protest of our knees and backs when we’re the ones who have to retrieve them. Others are bigger. Choosing a toy for your cat depends on both their preferences and the available space in your home.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a completely independent cat toy for when you’re away, the Catit Design Senses Circuit uses battery-operated balls and an expandable track to tempt your feline’s hunting instincts into action. For owners who want a budget-friendly option, the SmartyKat Fuzzy Friends toy is adorable and comes in a pack of two in case one goes missing — or your cat refuses to give one back.

Check out our reviews for the best cat toys for when you’re gone. By considering all your options, you’ll soon find the best toy for your home-alone feline.


Featured Image Credit: Chewy

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