Honestly, kittens will play with anything: bits of paper, aluminum foil balls, toes, air, sky-raisins, invisible dust.
But if you’re against having a trash-strewn home, invisible or not, here are some toys that are popular across the board for kittens and their mamas.
Beloved by all, ignored by most. Here are some of the across-the-board favorites in the kitten room.
Kittens love to hunt for toys or siblings who hide inside the holes. Velcro patches allow you to reconfigure the top half for new ways to play. They also use it to sleep in, and as a scratching post.
To clean it in between foster litters, toss it in the washing machine. If you dry it in your dryer, the glue holding the velcro may melt off. No problem. Just glue it back on. Or air dry it.
Tiny fake mice are a favorite with all mommy cats and their kittens. There are all different types: some rattle, some are made of soft fur, some have catnip, some are actual live mice (don’t use those).
Few things are more adorable than watching a mommy cat teach her babies to “hunt” these mice. If the mice have feathers for tails, watch your kittens proudly carry their “prize” to a corner for further fun. Toss the mice into other toys (like under the Ripple Rug), for cross-over events.
Fake mice are easy to bat around, and can be washed in the washing machine between litters. If they fall apart, toss them and try a different type next time. Gotta be clean!
Horizontal scratching surfaces are easier for young kittens to understand. Tiny kittens ‘fit’ their little bodies inside the track, and can chase the ball around until they’re old enough to bat at it. Because mommy cats love it, kittens will watch her and learn how scratchers and rolling toys work. These toys also come in a few different colors, and the balls can be switched out with light up balls or ping pong balls, or any small ball, really. Try adding two balls for extra curious kittens.
One of the best parts about the Roller Circuit Toy is that it’s configurable: buy a couple of sets, and put them together in different ways every few days. It’s like a new toy every time. Sometimes it’s round, sometimes oval, sometimes long and straight.
Try these motion-activated fireballs in place of the balls that are included. Woah.
For young kittens, keep it simple by using ping pong balls, and only snapping the cover on in every other spot. That way, they won’t be frustrated by a toy that’s too confusing to figure out. As they grow, add in new pieces.
Another beautiful thing about this toy: It comes completely apart. And you know what that means: easy to store, easy to clean. Just toss it into the dishwasher, and you’re ready for your next round of fosters.
No proper cat toy list is complete with mentioning The Kickeroo. With soft fur, silky tails and crinkly insides, Kickeroos are the perfect toy for bunny-kicking kittens. If a kitten gets to bitey or scratchey with your arm, replace it with a Kickeroo. I mean, give the kitten a Kickeroo instead. Do not replace your arm with a Kickeroo. It doesn’t have elbows.
Kickeroos are just the right size for kitten snuggles. Many kittens will lick their Kickeroo before snuggling up with it to sleep. The Kickeroo comes in many sizes, so you can get one for your mommy cat to play with, too. Some include catnip, so let’s talk about catnip for a minute.
Some cats love catnip. Some could not care less. IF a cat is going to like catnip, it probably won’t develop until they’re about six weeks old. Giving a younger kitten access to catnip isn’t a big deal; she’ll just ignore it.
Toss these cuties into the laundry to clean them up. Lather, rinse, repeat. Litter after litter.
Comes in two sizes and is easy to store. Pop it into the dishwasher between litters to sanitize it.
The ball opens up, so you can put bells or catnip inside. The lightweight plastic will slide on a hard surface, so place it on a towel or a blanket if you think it’ll scare the kittens.
Here’s another variation: Spinning Mouse Toy Kittens love the felt top. So simple, so fun.
Both mamas and kittens love these kind of toys.
Playmats aren’t just for babies or bored adults anymore. Young kittens love swatting at the dangly toys.
Older kittens loving pouncing on and collapsing the overhead bars. You’ll love that you can switch out the toys for other toys to keep things fresh and exciting. Easily foldable for storage, easily washable in the washing machine.
Who knew it was called Tower of Tracks? All this time I’ve been calling it the Dr. Seuss Cake.
Kittens who can walk and balance a bit love this toy. The balls are lightweight enough to move quickly with very little force; even small paws can get it going. And when the mama cat starts to play? Woah!
A whole litter can play with it at once, or one kitten can entertain itself. Be sure to get the model with the bar across the top hole: kittens can easily get stuck inside the middle volcano shaft. The balls can be replaced with ping pong balls if they get lost, or light up balls when the kittens are stronger and older.
To clean it, I put the whole thing through my dishwasher. Take the balls out first, and stick them in the silverware holder. Alternatively, spray it with Rescue disinfectant, or a 1:30 ratio of bleach:water.
Another simple, yet clever, favorite kitten toy are these springs. They slide; they bounce; they skitter; they’re erratic and unpredictaable. They’re basically kittens in toy-form.
Mommy cats and kittens alike love batting these around on hard floors. These come in fatty sizes, too, so start your collection now.
Pop these into your dishwasher for easy sanitation.
Mommy cats work hard, and need toys of their own. Show her she’s loved by giving her a Catnip Banana of her very own.
The seams are stitched tightly to keep the dried catnip inside. But some mommy cats love their bananas so much that they liberate most of the insides. No worries. When you’re nursing a whole litter of kittens, you get to do what you want.
Are they washable? I don’t know. I’ve never had one last long enough to need cleaning. But mommy cats? They’re worth it.
As a reminder, some cats love catnip. Some could not care less. IF a cat is going to like catnip, it probably won’t develop until they’re about six weeks old. Giving a younger kitten access to catnip isn’t a big deal; she’ll just ignore it.
This is one of the first toys I give them. Ping pong balls move quickly at the slightest touch. They are quiet, and don’t typically scare even young kittens.
Toss them in the dishwasher to sanitize them in between litters.
Here are other balls that my kittens love to play with. Remember, kittens love balls that are lightweight and easy to roll. Older kittens love balls that make noises or that light up. Younger kittens will want quiet, soft balls.
Bumpy Sponge Cat Balls (see video below of Stan Stan the Muffin Man playing with these fun toys)
Puff Balls (watch out for growling kittens!)
And now that you have all these fun balls, what will you do with them?
Why, you’ll put them in THIS!
The Peek and Play Toy Box is like hide and seek for mommy cats and kittens. You can put all kinds of toys inside, and older kittens will love trying to pull them out, or batting them around.
Wipe clean with Rescue Disinfectant Wipes before using with your next litter.
Kittens love to hide, so tunnels are a huge hit in the kitten room. The first tunnel I give tiny kittens is this one. It’s small, quiet, and short enough that young kittens aren’t frightened of it.
Kittens graduate to this larger 3 Way Cat Tunnel when they’re a little older. Watchingkittens pop out of the hole in the middle is hilarious.
This soft tunnel/bed combo is perfect for nursing moms, and washes up beautifully in the washing machine.
All of these tunnels fold up flat for storage: a must for when you rotate toys around. I toss the tunnels into the washing machine to clean them. Some tunnels don’t survive more than a few washings, so I replace them occasionally.
Cat Dancer: wind the soft felt ribbon around the handle, and you have a gentle, non-invasive way to pet scared cats without actually touching them with your hands
Da Bird: cats lose their minds over this one, and then leave their minds lying around everywhere. Ask me how I know.
This is literally a bit of cardboard on a wire. Why cats love it, I’ll never know. #becausecats
Crinkle Wand Bouncer Toy is perfect for older cats and mommy cats.
These Sparkle Ribbon wand toys are an enormous hit with kittens. Be sure to put them away when you’re not there to supervise: the Mylar ribbons can be choking hazards.
Toys With Batteries
A plastic butterfly, attached to a wire, flutters sporadically and makes kittens feel like predators. I have yet to find a cat who doesn’t LOSE THEIR MINDS over this toy. The smarter kittens will watch it before attacking, so it’s also a kitten IQ test.
Even when the switch is turned off, kittens still bat at it. What if the butterfly is lying on its side, wounded? No problem; kittens chew on the wings until it’s less of a butterfly and more of a caterpillar. Plastic butterfly torn all the way off? Kittens will still chase the plastic nub like the obligate carnivores they are.
I consider this a disposable toy. Honestly, after one litter of kittens have had a go, there’s not much left for another litter to play with. Nubs just aren’t that fun after a while. However, there are replacement parts you can buy: New Butterfly Parts. Otherwise, wipe it down with good ol’ Rescue disinfectant.
SO creepy. Buy it immediately.
This too: Robotic Mouse
You owe it to yourself.
A favorite with mommy cats and older kittens.
You’ve seen kittens playing with this on my Instagram account, so you KNOW how much they love it! You can choose fast or slow; smart kittens can start it themselves by stepping on the button.
One of the best parts of this Concealed Motion Toy is you can tie other stuff to the wand when the feathers fall off.
The cover is removable, machine-washable, and wads up nicely for storage.
The classic Fling-A-Ma-String wins points for best name and cleverest concept. Best for older kittens and cats, and put it away in between uses. The string can be a choking hazard. But you will laugh yourself sick watching them play with it. Trust me.
And definitely watch the video when you click on the link. Otherwise, setup can be a little confusing.
This one sells out quickly and often, so grab it while you can.
Proceed cautiously with a Laser Light. Cats and older kittens love it, but can get frustrated if you use it too long.
My favorite way to play with a laser light is to point it at things that kittens would normally play with anyway: toys, stuffed animals, other kittens. Walls. That way, they feel like they actually “caught” something at the end of the play session.
One of my foster kittens went to a home where they taught her how to turn the light switch off by shining the laser on it. So, there’s that.
Who comes up with these toys? I’d like to shake their creative, weird, cat-savvy, hand.
This toy spins around like the Teacup Ride at Disneyland (but with less barf), waving feathers and luring older kittens from their hiding places. You can attach replacement feathers on the wand arm to mix things up a little
The green base opens up, and you can put treats inside. But kittens aren’t typically interested in having treats while they play. Not like dogs are. Or me.