Autonomous Cat Toys
November 4, 2018 12:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some new cat toys. My ideal cat toy, for this use case, would be autonomous (turning on at random or specified intervals, or programmable) and would plug in so I don't have to constantly replace the batteries. I understand this may be difficult to find so things that are NEAR my ideal, but not ideal are okay ... but plug-in AND programmable/autonomous would be PERFECT. Ideas? Links?

The cat already has plenty of traditional toys (balls, catnip mice, teasers) and cat furniture to climb, but we need something she can interact with when the people are at work/school, because her energy level is super high! (A feline companion may be in her future, but right now, we need to get her some more exercise.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Pets & Animals (4 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I was looking for something similar and live in pet-obsessed Portland where we have an entire store dedicated just to cats. So I went there and ended up with something that needs manual interaction to set up but it has kept my extremely needy cat really content overnight and when we aren’t home for longer periods!

This “Indoor Hunting Feeder” is what I ended up, due to the urging of the store owner who said she’s never had anyone say anything but good things about it entertaining their cats. My cat isn’t crazy about treats other than dehydrated chicken—for that, he would surely murder his humans to get to if he didn’t need our thumbs to open the bag, so I got him into the feeder by putting those treats into the mice and “hiding” them in plain sight along our stairs. Now that he understands them I just put his plain dry food in them and scatter them around a room and he seems totally happy to hunt them down instead of eating out of a bowl.

They don’t take more than a minute to fill and it replaced the time I spent feeding him though I understand that even a minute sometimes is way too much to handle when you’ve got a lot going on! (Also, we luckily don’t have an ant problem but I shudder to think about what this toy might lead to in ant-prone spaces.)
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 1:07 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Possibly more than you're looking to spend, and the IoT/camera-in-your-home aspect may not be to your liking, but maybe either a treat cam or a play cam? You can either program interaction or use the app to play remotely.

None of the rest of these quite fit your brief, but I've gotten a bit burnt out on auto-toys because I've never found one that both kept a cat's attention *and* kept working for more than a few weeks, and the ones they've liked best have often involved strings, which I worry are a swallowing/choking hazard for an unattended cat. But I do have a very energetic Fierce Hunter kitty, so:

Have you tried her on interactive treat puzzles? Works better for more food-motivated cats, of course, but is also enticing for cats that like noisy toys (since the treats/kibble will rattle) and has the advantage of being low-tech. I've tried a few and made a few and my cat likes this one best.

If you have stairs in your house, you might try lining up a few rows of your cat's most favourite, most bounceable balls/toys on the top steps before you leave home. It's a trip hazard, of course, so care must be taken. I use foam "cat dice" for this because they're good for unpredictable bounces and because they're squishy so stepping on one hurts less. I do this every day for my cat because she delights and glories in being able to swat/push her toys down the stairs one by one, bouncing all the way. (Your cat may vary.)
posted by halation at 1:08 PM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Facebook is showing me ads for this $150 robot mouse. I’ve resisted so far, but if you buy one let me know how it works!
posted by nicwolff at 3:15 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have one of the Mousrs (from Kickstarter... we waited a very long time!). My cats like it a lot.
posted by doomsey at 3:20 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

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