It's important to stimulate and challenge indoor cats to keep them mentally fit and happy. One way to do this is to offer them interactive toys. We have tried many different interactive treat toys and here we are going through some of them. Maybe you want to try some of these with your cat?
Some of the stuff is bought at Danish pet stores, but I've included links to the english Zooplus webshop where I can.
The Food Tree
The first interactive toy we got was this Food Tree form Catit Senses. Before we got Ronja, this was Victor's everyday dry food dispenser. He was very good at using it too. But then we got Ronja and she found an even faster way to eat from the food tree. She simply knocked it over, so the treats would be everywhere! So Ronja was a bit too smart for this one.
My brother added a heavy base, so the tower couldn't tip over. Here you can see the new and improved version.
Before my brother fixed it, we had already invested in replacement though, which we are using today still.
Trixie Tunnel Feeder
This toy replaced our food tree and it works wonders. It's not difficult to use, but the cat still has to work for the treats. Victor can eat all day, so we use this to slow him down a bit. We never serve dry food in a bowl, but use this tunnel system instead. It can get a bit messy, but it's easy to fill. And this one will never fall over. This is a good place to start if your cat hasn't tried it before.
Trixie Cat Activity Fun Board
This fun board sure is fun! There's different challenges of different levels and Ronja and Victor can play with it at the same time. It's pretty easy to clean too. This is one of our most used activity toys.
This puzzle is of the brand AniOne. You fill the small cones with treats and place it in the little holes. The cat has to knock over the cones and dig the treats out. The cones won't stand straight once filled with treats, but it has no impact on the game. The little cones always roll away and end up under the furnitures. So in that way, this is an activity game for humans too, who has to run around trying to find all the pieces afterwards. I have to hide this puzzle when it's not in use, as Ronja will knock over the cones as soon as she sees them. It doesn't take Ronja long to finish this game, but it's a nice variation on the activity games.
Victor figured out how to solve this puzzle too. He simply waits till Ronja has knocked over a cone and then swoops in and eats the treats. He can be a real bully when it comes to food sometimes.
The Turn Around
This turn around toy from Trixie is not really for beginners. Even without putting lids on the little cups, the treats don't always come out right away when spun. So it can be difficult for the cat to learn, that it has to be patient and keep pawing at it. When the treats finally comes out there's another step as most of the treats will land in the maze under it. This toy definitly is for advanced users and gives a nice challenge for a smart cat like Ronja. She loves treats so much, that she is always motivated when it comes to activity toys.
Unfortunately this activity toy has the same problem as the food tree. It's too easy to knock over, on purpose or by accident. Ronja being a very eager girl will then often knock it over. Unlike the food tree this doesn't result in treats all over the floor. In fact it because impossible for the cat to reach the treats once its on its side. This means I can only use this when I'm home to pick it up for her. I also can't keep it out at night, cause it is very noisy when she tries to get the treats out once it has fallen over.
This toy actually says "Dog activity" on it, but I keep finding it in the cat section of different websites. The parts are very small, so it would have to be a very small dog I think? I've seen this toy being sold in many places and after looking at it for years I finally got it. I gotta say though, I'm not very impressed. It's definitely challenging, but it also malfunction a lot. The treats will get stuck so bad that even I have trouble getting them out again. The stuck treat will block parts from moving and make it impossible to get to other treats. The lever you can pull will only get the tray out halfway and there's simply little compartments that my cats never get to because of it. So I don't think this is the best design. In theory it's great, but it seems like they started producing this without testing it. Now that we have it, we still use it regularly, but I would recommend getting the fun board instead and pass on this. It was cheap, but not really worth it.
Ah yes the snack ball. Every indoor cat with respect for itself must have a variety of these. Ronja and Victor are skilled at using these, but again it mostly interest Ronja. We can no longer use the cheap fragile ones in our house, because Ronja has figured out how to "solve" them. She will roll it over to the top of the stairs and throw it down the stairs. The ball will then break in two and she can have her treats by the foot of the stairs. So while these were great when we just had Victor, we have opted for the stronger plastic balls.
We recently got an egg-shaped on that moves differently. This model is easy to fill because it comes apart in two. Ronja hasn't thrown this down the stairs (yet), so I don't know if it's sturdy enough yet. But it's a fun toy that makes Ronja move around.
The game often ends with the ball or egg rolling under a dresser or behind the couch. So I always have to go for a search to find it again. The biggest issue with the snack balls though, is that our cats can't hear when the ball is empty and will keep batting at it. So I will have to take it from them, when it's empty or they will keep at it, which I imagine can be very frustrating for them.
The snuffle mat has lots of little hiding places for treats. The cats really have to use their noses with this toy. Needless to say, Victor is an expert at this game, as his sense of smell is highly advanced. Rather than using their paws, they will often use the nose to dig out the treats as well. So the snuffle mat definitly offers a different type of challange. This is a nice little activity toy and I imagine this would be great for beginners as well.
Hemp Mat from JR Farm
So this is another variation on the snuffle mat. This one is made of hemp and comes in a cardboard frame. There's cut little pockets in the hemp and it comes with mouse shaped treats that my cats didn't really cared for. The feral cats ate them though, so they didn't go to waste!
You can refill with other treats and so this is reusable, although it might not last as long as all the plastic and fabric toys. However my cats does not seem to like this natural material. Once they have dug up the treats that are easy to get to, they simply leave it. They never bother getting out the treats that are well dug in and hidden. So I don't think they like to stick their noses into this hemp mat. I don't have a video of them using it, as it was never really a hit.
The Dreamies mouse is really a variation of the snack ball or snack egg. You can ajust the dificulty level, but all levels are pretty easy. Since there's not room for a lot of snacks, the game is not going to last that long. But they're still good for a couple of finutes of fun. They are easy to fill and since they are small, they can move pretty well. Even Victor likes these.
Pipolino Anti-Stress Home Trainer
Ronja loves treat balls, but they can be very noisy. So I've been looking into treat rolls instead as they should be more quite. I bougt a few different versions online, but they all turned out to have too big holes for cat treats. With The Pipolono I finlly found one suited for cats. The toy itself is still very big, but it doesn't matter too much. Ronja has no problem moving around. The size only give storage issues when not in use.
The Pipolino roll is a nice variation from the balls, but it's not quite as fun as it only goes back and forth. The balls can really roll all over the appartment and give the cat a nice workout. But this one rarely moves very far from where I set it down. So it's not as challenging as a regular treat ball, however it is indeed less noisy.
If you want to try activity toys with your cat, but you don't want to spend a lot of money, I recommend that you make some of your own. Check out our DIY Snacktivities for cats.
Have fun getting your little genius to work for the treats!