Satisfy Your Curiosity: Your Guide to Plush Cat Toys

A cute cat is holding its prey in its paws - a toy orange mouse.

Key Points

  • The size and weight of plush toys make them ideal for cats to carry and bat around.

  • Catnip can add appeal to a plush toy that a cat otherwise might not show interest in.

  • You can make your own plush toy out of an infant's sock.

Cats, by nature, are playful creatures, but playing isn't just about fun and games. Using toys to play with your cat offers many benefits. These interactive cat toys help them hone their hunting skills, stay active, and relieve stress.

Plush cat toys are especially perfect for a cat's playtime. Their size, weight, and materials make them a suitable replacement for live prey. In this guide to plush cat toys, learn how to incorporate them into your cat's playtime routine.

The Allure of Plush Cat Toys

The soft texture and feel of plush cat toys make them very alluring. Their size and shape remind them of natural prey. They're lightweight and easy to carry around, as most cats like to do. After their "kill," they take them to a place of safety.

The comforting, plush material also provides a sense of security, making these toys not just playthings but also sources of comfort and companionship. For a cat with anxiety, these toys can act as comfort objects during times of stress. In a new environment, a favorite plush toy can help them hold onto familiarity.

Understanding Your Cat's Play Preferences

Every cat is unique; if you have more than one, you know this to be true. Even though cats hunt similar prey, their hunting or play preferences vary.

Understanding a cat's instinctual behaviors is key to selecting the right toys. Cats are natural hunters, and when they play, it's as if they're in hunting mode in the wild. They hide, stalk, chase, and attack a toy just as they would live prey. Plush toys that allow them to mimic these actions provide a satisfying outlet for these instincts.

Each cat has its own play style and preferences. Even though most may stalk and pounce, some may enjoy vigorous, active play, while others prefer more gentle interactions. One toy may last years and withstand more than one cat's use. Then, another cat may come along and destroy the toy within minutes!

Observing your cat's behavior during play can help you tailor the plush toys you choose, ensuring they align with your cat's preferences. Plush cat toys are a category on their own, but within this group, there is a variety of options. Getting more than one or a variety pack is a good idea.

Stuffed Animals and Soft Plush Toys

Little animal toys may be the cutest type of plush cat toys. They may be as entertaining for cat owners as the pets themselves. OurPets Mouse in Sheep's Clothing is a cuddly and cute example.

Mouse in Sheep's Clothing Cat Toy
$5.53

by  OurPets 

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Materials and Durability

Plush cat toys come in a variety of materials, including soft fabrics, faux fur, or tough, crinkly material. When choosing a plush toy, opt for high-quality, durable materials that withstand your cat's daily use. Reinforced stitching and strong seams keep the toy intact for a long life.

Sizes and Shapes

Plush toys come in a range of sizes and shapes, from small mice to larger stuffed animals. Consider your cat's size and play style when selecting a plush toy. Smaller toys are ideal for batting, chasing, and carrying, while larger toys provide something to wrap their paws around and use as a kicker.

Stuffing

When selecting a plush toy with stuffing, be sure the label shows non-toxic materials. Cats are infamous for tearing open their toys. When they do, you don't want them swallowing something hazardous. You can also purchase plush toys with no stuffing for an aggressive cat.

Catnip-Infused Plush Toys

You no doubt know of catnip and its effect. A dull toy suddenly becomes exciting with the addition of catnip. Little mice like the SmartyKat Skitter Critters are excellent examples.

Skitter Critters Catnip Cat Toys
$2.08

by SmartyKat 

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02/19/2024 01:30 am GMT

In an article written by WebMD editorial contributors and medically reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM, they talk about the versatility of catnip. They say:

"Catnip can be stuffed into toys, packed into balls, or simply sprinkled into cardboard boxes. Cats can safely eat catnip, so don’t worry if they lick it. Just be careful petting your cat when catnip’s in play: some cats get overexcited and may bite when this herb is around."

Remember that your cat simply responds to the natural effect of catnip and doesn't mean to hurt you. Don't punish them if they accidentally scratch you during play.

The Catnip Effect

Catnip-infused plush toys add an extra level of excitement to playtime. Catnip, a natural herb, triggers a euphoric response in many cats. Keep in mind the age of your cat when selecting a catnip toy. Kittens don't typically respond to it until at least six months to a year old.

Choosing the Right Catnip Toy

When selecting a catnip-infused plush toy, consider factors such as the catnip's quality, the toy's durability, and your cat's individual response to catnip. Get toys with a removable pouch to replace them when they lose their potency.

Catnip Alternatives

Silvervine might do the trick if your cat doesn't respond to catnip; it produces similar reactions. Cats exposed repeatedly to catnip may also develop a tolerance to its effects. Switch out their toys, limiting the time they play with their catnip toys. Consider the Potaroma Flopping Fish with Silverine.

Flopping Fish with SilverVine and Catnip
$12.98

by Potaroma 

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02/28/2024 06:36 pm GMT

Benefits of Plush Cat Toys

Getting a new toy for your cat is fun, but it goes beyond enjoyment. You and your feline both benefit from having plush cat toys.

Plush cat toys provide valuable mental stimulation for your cat. Through interactive play, they mimic hunting behaviors, keeping their minds sharp and agile. This mental engagement is essential for preventing boredom, staving off dementia, and maintaining a happy, healthy cat.

Catnip Toy Yellow Banana
$8.99

by Yeowww! 

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02/19/2024 09:05 am GMT

You can use plush toys to give your cat some exercise too. Toss it in the air, and your cat jumps to catch it. You may have a little trouble getting them to bring it back to you, but you can train some cats to fetch it. Either way, these interactive toys get your feline moving.

Plush cat toys also offer a sense of comfort and security to your feline companion. Discover which toy is their favorite, and be sure that they have it when you must leave them alone. A comfort object is a great help for cats who experience separation anxiety.

Cat Pillow Toys
$9.98

by Potaroma 

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03/08/2024 07:25 pm GMT

Safety Considerations

No matter what type of toy you choose, your cat's safety should be the number one priority. It doesn't matter how much they might enjoy it if it's harmful.

  • Choose high-quality, non-toxic materials.

When it comes to plush cat toys, prioritizing safety is paramount. Opt for toys made from high-quality, non-toxic materials. Cats tend to lick and chew on their toys — especially if they contain catnip — so be sure that any dyes or finishes used on the toy are also safe for your cat. This helps prevent any potential harm or allergic reactions.

  • Minimize choking hazards.

Before giving your cat a plush toy, inspect it for any small parts that could pose a choking hazard. Pay special attention to eyes, buttons, or any detachable pieces. These should be securely attached to the toy or avoided altogether. You may even try it out yourself by tugging on it and testing out the strength of the seams.

  • Know when to supervise your cat's playtime.

While plush toys are generally safe, gauging your cat's play style is important. Supervised play is best for cats who tend to be aggressive with their toys or have a habit of tearing things apart. This way, you can step in if you notice any potential hazards.

Manufacturing mistakes happen as well. If your toy arrives with missing stitches, contact the company or seller for a replacement. Moving plush toys may contain batteries, so make sure they stay secured inside the toy.

DIY Plush Cat Toys

Pets cost a lot of money with food, vet bills, flea treatments, etc. If you're on a tight budget, try making your own plush catnip toys.

1. Find your pattern.

If you know how to sew and fancy yourself as crafty, you can find all kinds of patterns for toys.

User Fun Blind Bag posted a TikTok video on August 28, 2023, demonstrating how to make a plush cat toy out of a pair of small socks. If you feel that this pattern is still too complicated, take a baby's sock, fill it with catnip, and sew the opening closed.

When sewing, it's best to use a machine if possible. This ensures that the stitches are small and tight. It's less likely that your cat rips them out.

2. Gather your materials.

Creating your own plush cat toys is fun and rewarding. Gather materials like durable fabrics, stuffing, and sewing supplies that are safe and non-toxic. With a bit of creativity, you can craft toys tailored to your cat's preferences.

Noise attracts some cats, so you may want to include some tissue paper, crinkle paper, or perhaps a bell. Other cats don't like such things, so you need to be aware of your cat's likes and dislikes.

3. Always keep safety tips in mind when crafting homemade cat toys.

Choose fabrics and thread that don't unravel in long strands when ripped or pulled apart. This is dangerous if your cat tries to swallow it.

Babies' socks should typically have non-toxic materials and dyes since babies often put their feet in their mouths. Check the materials anyway, just to be sure. Even if your cat rips open the stitches, organic catnip is safe for your cat to eat. It even produces calming effects when ingested.

Introducing Plush Cat Toys: Tips for Success

Some cats are particular about their possessions, including toys. They may not accept a new one as easily as you might expect.

The Gradual Introduction Method

When introducing a new plush toy, take a gradual approach. Allow your cat to become familiar with the toy at their own pace. Place it in their environment and observe their reactions before encouraging play. Put it among other toys so it's not too obvious.

Attempting to force them to play with a new toy may only result in its ostracization. Cats like to make their own choices when it comes to their possessions.

Incorporating Positive Reinforcement

Associate the plush toy with positive experiences. Use treats, praise, and affection to reinforce the idea that the toy is a source of enjoyment and comfort.

If your cat is hesitant about the toy, use catnip or silvervine. If the toy doesn't already contain catnip, rub some on the outside of the toy. If it has a pocket for batteries, you may be able to fit a small pouch of catnip inside.

Overcoming Shyness or Fear

If your cat is initially hesitant about a new plush toy, be patient. Encourage exploration and play in a gentle, reassuring manner. Offer encouragement and give them the time they need to warm up to it. Place it near other toys or their bed to establish its familiarity.

Some toys may have a new smell, whether from the factory or the packaging. Take the toy out of the packaging and allow it to air out for at least 24 hours before giving it to your cat. You may also rub it with your hands to give it your scent, which your cat is already familiar with.

Playtime Ideas and Techniques

When it comes to playtime, think like a cat. If you have a new cat and aren't familiar with their style of play, here are a few ideas.

Gentle Wrestling and Pouncing

Plush toys are ideal for games that mimic hunting behaviors. Encourage your cat to engage in gentle wrestling and pouncing with the toy. This not only provides physical exercise but also fulfills their natural instincts.

Some toys come with a small loop you can attach to the end of a wand as a lure. If it doesn't, tie it to the end of the wand or a separate string and use it to drag across the floor like a mouse or bounce in the air like a bird.

Comfort Cuddles and Naps

You think of babies having blankets and teddy bears, but cats cuddle too. It's not uncommon for cats to snuggle with each other when they nap. If they don't have a companion, they may like a plush toy when they sleep.

The soft texture and filling of plush toys provide comfort, making them perfect for snuggling and naptime. If they sleep in a bed separate from their owner, these toys are helpful to prevent separation anxiety.

Creative Hide-and-Seek Games

Use plush toys in creative hide-and-seek games. Hide the toy in different locations for your cat to discover. This stimulates their problem-solving skills and adds an element of mental engagement to playtime.

Hide the toy before you leave for work so your cat has something to keep them occupied. A cat with separation anxiety sometimes engages in destructive behaviors if they have nothing else to distract them.

Catering to Your Cat's Preferences

If a cat doesn't like something, it may be difficult to convince them. You need to be aware of your cat's preferred playing style and adjust your activities with them.

Recognizing Active vs. Relaxed Play Styles

Pay attention to your cat's play style. Some cats may have a more active, high-energy approach to play, while others may prefer a more relaxed, laid-back style. Provide a variety of plush toys to cater to their individual preferences.

Their styles may depend on their age or physical abilities as well. A kitten is usually high-energy, while a senior cat may have a more relaxed approach.

Understanding Signs of Engagement and Enthusiasm

Learn to recognize the signals that indicate your cat is enthusiastic and engaged during play. These may include focused attention, quick movements, and vocalizations of excitement.

Conversely, if they lie down in a relaxed position, have their eyes halfway closed, or yawn and groom themselves, they're likely not too interested.

Adapting Play to Fit Your Cat's Energy Levels

Cats often nap, partly to conserve energy. When they hunt and play, many cats often use short bursts of physical activity. Other cats are more deliberate and patient.

Match the intensity of play to your cat's energy levels. Adjust the pace and style of play to ensure it remains enjoyable and stimulating for them.

Signs of Overstimulation or Fatigue

Again, safety is a number one priority, not only in the materials of a toy but also in the way you play with your cat. Learn when to take a break. Pay close attention to your cat's behavior during play. If you notice signs of overstimulation, such as increased aggression or agitation, it's important to pause playtime and allow your cat to calm down.

Watch for signs that your cat may be overexerting themselves. These can include heavy panting, fatigue, or signs of physical discomfort. If you observe these signs, it's crucial to provide a break and allow your cat to rest. In the summertime, they may also become overheated if you don't have air conditioning or if they play outdoors. This requires a shorter playtime.

Ensure your cat has plenty of opportunities for rest and relaxation between play sessions. This helps prevent exhaustion and allows them to recharge for their next playful adventure. If your plush toy is electronic, it's best to choose one that has an automatic shutoff. This option allows your cat a rest period before starting again. Play with them just before bedtime so they go to sleep soon afterward. This helps to make sure they don't wake you up just as you try to doze off.

Rotating Toys for Continued Engagement

An indoor cat can quickly become bored within their indoor environment. If you don't want to be constantly buying new toys, switch them out. Cats can quickly become bored with their toys if they are constantly available. Rotate their plush toys regularly to keep playtime fresh and exciting. Try putting the toys on a rotating schedule. Use a wand with plush toys one day and a catnip plush toy the next.

Toy rotation not only prevents boredom but also provides cognitive stimulation. Introducing new toys periodically encourages problem-solving and exploration, keeping your cat's mind sharp. Even old toys suddenly become like new if you put them away for a time. When they don't see them for a while, they're "out of sight, out of mind."

Caring for Your Plush Cat Toys

Another way to prevent spending a lot of money on new toys is by taking care of the ones you have. If your cat isn't overly aggressive, some toys can last years.

Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

Before you choose a plush toy for your cat, look at the care instructions. See if they're machine washable or have a removable cover, that is.

Plush toys can accumulate dirt, fur, and odor over time. Regularly clean and maintain your cat's plush toys to ensure they remain hygienic and safe for play.

Recognizing When to Replace Worn-Out Toys

Keep an eye on the condition of your cat's plush toys. If you notice any signs of wear and tear, such as loose seams or damaged stuffing, it's time to replace or repair the toy to prevent any potential hazards.

If the material is in decent shape, but the stitching comes out, you might get away with a sewing repair job. If the material becomes thin and worn, it's time to get rid of it. If small pieces start to come off, like an eye or tail, detach it or cut it off. If the toy is still functional, your cat may still play with it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most common questions asked about Plush Cat Toys.

If my plush toy has googly eyes, is it safe for my cat to play with?

Some toys have loosely attached googly eyes or ones that are simply glued on. These don't last long. It may be safer to pull these off even before you allow your cat to play with it. The absence of eyes likely doesn't detract from your cat's enjoyment.

If my cat doesn't like their toy, can I get a replacement or refund?

This depends on the company, so check the company or seller's return policy before purchasing your toy. Some may offer a trial period or a "satisfaction guarantee."

Is my plush toy safe if it has feathers attached?

Feathers are very easily pulled out, so monitor your cat when they play with them. You don't want your cat to swallow or choke on them.

Nurturing Bonds Through Play

Plush cat toys play a crucial role in your cat's physical and mental health. They provide much-needed mental stimulation, physical exercise, and emotional comfort, contributing to a happy and fulfilled feline companion.

Playing with your cat also gives you a way to bond with your cat. Yes, they may nap on your lap, and you supply their food and water, but be a part of their playtime too.

Get to know your cat to find the ideal type of plush toy that caters to their individual preferences and abilities.

When you use plush toys to play with your cat, you have as much fun as they do, or maybe even more!

For more information on cat toys and how to use them, subscribe to Cattitude Daily.

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