Electronic Toys for Cats Can Get Boring: Tips for Making Them Last Longer
Electronic toys for cats can be great to supplement playtime, but many cats lose interest. Keep it exciting by changing up the environment around the toy.
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It happens to all of us. You get a new electronic toy and your cat is batting at the mouse or tail as it moves around like it's the greatest toy ever. After a few days, your cat just stares at it when you turn it on like it's the most boring toy they have ever seen. What happened?
Unfortunately, cats are often too smart for many electronic toys. They understand it's going to move a certain way and the toy becomes predictable. There's no better toy than the wand toy to be able to give your cat great exercise and mimic hunting to meet their prey drive. You can move it the way your cat likes unlike the electronic toy's movements which are the same each time. Still, there are ways to make them more attractive for your cat. Here are my top tips:
I rotate about 4 of them so the cats don't see the same toy each day. This can help a lot with keeping up the level of excitement. Once you're using the same toy day after day, cats often lose interest.
My cats prefer the ones that have a moving toy under a circle plastic cover such as the Cat's Meow Motorized Wand toy. Other ones that they like include the Butterfly Flutter, Petlinks Pure Commotion (the one Luke's playing with in the pictures), Hexbug Mouse and Nano Bugs. I'm currently testing out some rechargeable toys, but I'm not thrilled with the quality so far.
Figuring out good places to put electronic toys can make all the difference.
Cats are ambush predators so sometimes when we set up the toy in the middle of the room, that doesn't make a great scene for an ambush attack. Some ways to set up ambushes include right outside a tunnel so your cat can attack from inside the tunnel and surprise the prey. I'll also put a toy inside a tunnel or a box, depending on it's size. Or, I'll surround the toy with furniture, pillows, or cat tunnels.
Nano bugs are great inside a bathtub where they cannot get lost. I also like to put those inside a cardboard box and close it back up. Cut out a few holes for your cat to be able to grab it with their paw.
Another way to increase interest is to make it more challenging. Adding packing paper over a flatter toy like the Cat's Meow motorized wand toy makes it more challenging. There's also great sound effects from the toy wiggling under the paper. My cats love any toys that is moving under packing paper whether it's electronic or I'm moving a wand toy underneath.
Tissue paper works well for this too as does Dezi & Roo's magic carpet.
Replace Prey Toy
The actual toy that the cat is grabbing may not be appealing either. Maybe the motion of the electronic toy is great, but the toy is broken or boring. I've been replacing or adding other items I know my cats like to increase the appeal. For example, a peacock feather is an easy thing to add on or replace a broken attachment. If the attachment doesn't easily come off, I'll use duck tape to secure something else to it. I'm always making my own wand attachments and any of those would be great ideas to try on electronic toys too. Just supervise to ensure safety since some cats eat certain items.
I may attach a peacock feather (I bought a pack on Amazon - they claim no peacocks were harmed - the feathers fall off naturally), regular inanimate toy, wand attachment, or paper to the battery toy's tail (I often get creative with the wand toys too).
My cats respond well to these small adjustments.
Electronic toys can be a great addition to your cat's enrichment collection, but how you set it up can make a big difference in whether you cat continues to play with it after the initial excitement wears off.
About the author: Jennifer Van de Kieft is a Certified Advanced Feline Training & Behavior Professional located in Brooklyn, NY. She owns Cat Advocate, a feline behavior consulting company. She provides cat guardians with the strategies, tools and knowledge needed to address their cat's behavior issues. Jennifer provides virtual consultations throughout the United States.