Pets are like kids: they love new stuff and they get bored easily. So, in looking for perfect pet gifts this year, I focused on pet toys that have the potential of holding your pet's attention for more than a few minutes on more than one occasion. High on my list are those toys that don't require the owner to participate in the play, which is what I mean by interactive. Cats are the hardest to please, so I'll list my faves in cat toys first:
Interactive Toys For Cats
Pet Toy 1. Fling-ama-String Battery-Operated Toy
This being my cat's favorite toy, I naturally have to share it with you. Because he loves it so much, I reviewed the toy here. See the video in the review; you won't believe how much cats love the Fling-ama-String.
Pet Toy 2. The Kong Cat Kickeroo
Amazing toy. Cats are immediately drawn to this toy -- I guess it's the powerful catnip -- but they don't let go of it! I covered this toy recently in another column; you can click here to read the article, or go to Amazon.com to purchase. It's so worth it!
Pet Toy 3. Da Bird
Believe it or not, what with all of the cat-teaser toys on the market, with feathers, boas, ribbons, cords, and whatnots, Da Bird cat teaser is favored by the majority of cats who've rated it. Maybe it's the longer (36") wand, or the sound of the feathers in flight, or the fact that the feathers are real bird feathers... whatever does it, your cat will be addicted. Owners advise against leaving your cat alone with this toy. Sold by Amazon.com for $10.98.
Pet Toy 4. The Cat Spa
Don't you sometimes wish you were a cat? Cats really know how to find all those feel-good spots. And the Hagin Catit Cat Spa knows where they are and how to reach them. After all, there's nothing like a 'feel good' toy for a cat. With the Body Groomer and the Ripple Massager for rubbing the face, head and neck, those especially hard to groom places for a cat, he'll groom himself and stimulate lots of pheromones to calm him. The Accu-Pressure pads provide your cat stepping places she loves to stimulate her paws. And cats love their gums stimulated. I've been massaging my cats' gums with my fingers, but the Cat Spa Gum Stimulator offers cats something to actually gnaw on.. which does not feel good on your fingers. (There's a place for catnip in the gum stimulator, so she'll be more inclined to chew on it.) All of this in one toy will keep your cat busy. Gift available at cat places and Amazon.com ($24.97).
Pet Toy 5. The Kitty Babble Ball
Pet Quirks has some definite winners in their Babble Balls. The Babble Ball for kitties is 2.125" diameter and nice and ridged for some gum stimulation, if desired. The Babble Ball makes cat-appropriate sayings whenever your cat comes near it or so much as breathes near it. Surprise! What was that!? Hear the Babble Ball for Kitties at Pet Quirks. Available for order at Amazon.com for $6.90.
Pet Toy 6. The Tick Tock Teaser
When the pendulum swings on the Tick Tock Teaser, your cat will have two problems to solve: how to stop the pendulum and how to catch the little toy prey inside this wooden box. If she does catch it, and bores of it, as kitties do, you can exchange the inner toy for another, by inserting a new one with Velcro. And it always helps to stuff the toy with fresh catnip. Nice looking, sturdy box that promises lots of fun for da cat. Gift available at Amazon.com for $15.89.
Pet Toy 7. Fat Cat Toys
Fat Cat Inc. makes literally dozens of adorable little critters for cats. You have to see them all to believe what cute little personalities each one has. Yes, they are works of art that your cat can't really appreciate. But what your feline friend will love is the "high octane" catnip and the crinkling or crunchy sounds they make. Available from Amazon.com starting at $2.99. This cute You Tube video by "Heidojo" shows cats at play with a Fat Cat toy...
Pet Toy 8. Fat Cat Kitty Hoots Boogie Mat for de Cat Fishes
Ever see your kitty get down and boogie? You will if you get her a boogie mat from Fat Cat! This mat's full of Fat Cat's extra-special blend of cat nip! Re-chargeable when ready! From Amazon.com, $8.49.
Pet Toy 9. Incredibubbles (for dogs and cats!)
What a kick the Pet Qwerks' Incredibubbles are for dogs and cats; heck, they're great for kids! Why? They last longer than your average bubble, hitting the ground in tact so your guys can chase them for awhile. These are non-toxic and peach flavored. You too will have fun with these; you might even get your nose wet! Available at Here's To Healthy Pets for $3.99 and at Amazon.
Interactive Toys For Dogs
Many dog toys are advertised as "interactive," but most, like the Incredibubbles above, require a human to interact with the dog and the toy. A good reason for this is that, unlike cats, domesticated dogs just don't entertain themselves very well. There are a few toys a dog might play with, sans human. These are the ones I like best:
Pet Toy 10. Doggy Babble Ball
What's fair for the kitty is fair for the dog.. no? Indeed the Doggy Babble Ball does exactly what the Kitty Babble Ball does... stimulates his curiosity as it interacts with your dog. As soon as it gets a whiff of your dog's breath or he touches it, it talks to him! Available in three sizes and in two versions of babbles -- animal sounds or human expressions. The Babble Balls are made from a high impact plastic and have replaceable batteries. All versions are available for gifting at Amazon.com from $5.99. Want more information about Babble Balls? Visit their manufacturer, Pet Quirks.
Pet Toy 11. Equi-Sprit Soccer Balls
You've been astute enough to notice that the Equi-Spirit Ball is not intended for dogs, but horses. Nevertheless, dogs love to chase giant balls. They will nuzzle them around until they totally poop-out. Now the Equi-Sprit balls are fairly pricey (this one is $58 for a 24" ball), but it's the sturdiest large ball out there. Made of nylon, this has a vinyl inside bladder, so it's real resistant. Alternatively, you can purchase cheap beach balls, and just replace them when they've popped from puncture by a canine's canine. (Note that dogs who chase basketballs or soccer balls can develop 'ball teeth' which makes teeth very sensitive, and sometimes painful to a dog.)
(UPDATE: This is no longer available. The Jolly Ball is a great alternative.)
Pet Toy 12. Busy Buddy Twist 'n Treat
Put some odorous dog treat in the Twist & Treat and your dog will keep busy for awhile, especially if she's hungry. Made in two parts from durable rubber, it can be filled with treats of various sizes. Then twist the parts closed and, voila, your dog will be challenged to get to the treats. The degree of challenge is up to you, as you can adjust the size of the toy's openings. The Busy Buddy Twist & Treat is giftable from Amazon.com for $6.99.
Pet Toy 13. GoDogGo
GoDogGo is the ultimate couch potato's dream... if he has a dog. Just plug this in and let your dog do the rest. Oh, yes, you have to hang around to push the button on your remote control, but just think you can do this from a patio lounger! GoDogGo is $149 well-spent dollars, when you figure how much exercise you don't have to get. Here's a great video on GoDogGo from YouTube by "agilitymanque."
Interactive Toys For Birds
Perhaps more than cats, dogs, horses, or ferrets, domesticated birds are quite happy playing by themselves. So, almost all bird toys are interactive. Many objects around your home, even small toys for other pets, can easily convert to a "bird toy."
Here are a couple of my favorites...
Pet Toy 14. The Sing-A-Long Juke Box
There are plenty of CD's that you can play for your bird to teach him to sing or talk; frankly, I've not had any success with them. But the Sing-A-Long Jukebox is a toy your bird can play for himself. A little exploration will lead him to a button that plays one of four tunes on the Jukebox. Once he learns he can activate the toy, he starts listening and responding to it by whistling himself. And when the tiunes start driving you crazy, you can purchase new modules with different tunes.e tunes. Listen before you buy at Doctors Foster and Smith starting at $10.49.
Pet Toy 15. Babble Balls
I guess I already let it be known that these are super interactive toys. Pet Quirks doesn't make Babble Balls specifically for birds, but any of them will be loved, especially by parrots, keets and other talking birds. There are some cute videos on You Tube of birds playing with Babble Balls; here is one by 'booknhorsefreak.'
Interactive Toys For Fish
Pet Toy 16. RB Fish School Kit
Believe it or not, you should be able to teach your pet fish how to jump through hoops and throw balls through them too with this training kit. in fact, there are about 10 tricks to teach your fish in the RB Fish School Kit. To see my full-length column about the RB Fish School, click here. You will find an amusing You-Tube video of a trained goldfish.
Interactive Toys For Ferrets
Ferrets can turn anything into a toy, but they do love the ones designed just for them. They also like toys made for other animals, like Da Bird, covered above for cats. And did I mention that they also like the Babble Balls? Here are a few choice toys made for ferrets alone:
Pet Toy 17. Super Thru-Way Ferret Tunnel
This looks like a fun way to spend one's day... like trying to navigate the Los Angeles freeway system. But ferrets love this toy, and if you're into ferret racing, buy one for each ferret. Available from Amazon for $17.99.
Pet Toy 18. Ferret Octo-Play
This fleecy nest offers sleeping and peeking opportunities for one or multiple ferrets. Made with extra strong seams to resist tearing, the Octo-Play may be hand washed or dry cleaned. A wire insert keeps the dome from collapsing down and is three inches high. Carried by Amazon.com for $13.78.
Interactive Horse Toys
Horses tend to be left alone in their stalls way too much. They are naturally herd animals and enjoy socialization with other horses or, if domesticated, their favorite riders, a dog pal, or other friendly animals. So active toys can relieve the stress built up by being in their stalls and, of course, give them opportunity to exercise. This is the horse toy I like the best:
Pet Toy 19. Equi-Spirit Soccer Ball
This Equi-Spirit 40" Equine Soccer Ball is available from Natural Horse Talk for $118. Natural Horse Talk is the sponsor of the Internet radio show called If Your Horse Could Talk and hosts seminars and training for horses and horse owners at its farm in Arizona. Horses enjoy playing soccer alone or with their riders. A form of horse soccer can be played with a large ball, such as the one above on a large field with soccer goal set-ups. Horses and riders form teams and the horses, guided by their riders, kick or nudge the ball toward the team's goal. Videos of horse and owner soccer can be seen here.
(Update: The Jolly Ball may be another good and less expensive option.)
There's a lot to search through when it comes to pet toys. Like many products, every toy claims to be a dog's, cat's, or horse's best friend. I hope I made gift selection easier for you this year by "ferreting" through the offerings.
Have a happy and safe holiday season with your family of humans and pets!
10 Best Products For Cats...Sold on Amazon
10 Best Products for Dogs...Sold on Amazon
For more great tips on pet toys, please visit PetsLady.com
That's the buzz for today!