As the proud parent of a mousin’-machine named Carmel, I love to foster her natural tendencies to hunt.  Cats love to play with their humans and really just have one request: PUT THE LASER POINTER DOWN.  Sure it’s fun to see your little bundles of fur chase the mysterious red dot until they are dizzy, but it causes a lot of frustration and offers no gratification of the catch!  Besides, your kitty can tell whether you are laughing at her or laughing with her.  She gets embarrassed just like you or me, and doesn’t enjoy it one bit.  Her usual acrobatic dance of graceful play turns into a spastic endeavor to capture what doesn’t exist, all while you knee-slap yourself at her expense.  But this is a dog’s world.  Outside of the laser pointers, cat toys haven’t really evolved much from a ball of yarn.  Wisconsin Pet Care has cat-tested several toys on the market, and these are a few that made our list of purr-fect toys:

Cat Dancer – The Cat Dancer Toy (Did I mention that it is manufactured in Wisconsin?) gets Carmel’s paw print of approval for being the toy that never fails to capture her interest.  When I first brought this toy out of the package, I thought: “You’ve got to be kidding.  It’s a piece of wire and some little pieces of cardboard!”  But I soon found out it was much more than that.  I watched as my big kitty did flips and pounces reminiscent of her kitten years.  At just $3 each, I keep the Cat Dancer as one of her toy box staples.

Da Bird with Rod – As I’ve mentioned, Carmel is a “hunter” type of player.  She loves the thrill of capturing her prey.  A chaser’s dream, this unassuming gem drove her cat nip crazy!  Da Bird is as simple as bundled feathers attached to a stick with string.  However, the way it is designed mimics the natural movement of a bird (it even makes the swooshing sound of wings flapping as it soars through the air!).  $7 is all it takes to transform your living room into a kitty-pleasing aviary.

Fur Mice – I’m embarrassed to tell you how many places I have found a stray mouse in my house!  Since the beginning of Carmel’s kittenhood, I have been buying fur mice in bulk.  There is seldom a time you will see her without one (and seldom a time she doesn’t cover my bed with them).  This is a toy I feel safe leaving her alone with while I’m at work.  While cats do prefer interactive playtime, they will engage in independent play if left with toys they enjoy.  Remember: A bored cat is a mischievous cat!

Blanket and Paper Bag – No, I’m not losing it.  I know that a blankets and bags aren’t technically “toys”, but I wanted to make the point that cats are not hard to please.  There is no game Carmel loves more than “Blanket Hunter” (she can chase a moving hand under the covers for a very long time without getting bored).  And a Saturday morning grocery run turns into an exhilarating “what’s in the bag” gag in minutes!  She gets especially giddy if I take the time to cut some holes in the bag and stick her mice through them (CAT EUPHORIA!).

The Mint Stick – Every pet parent needs a “rainy day” favorite in their cat’s toy box.  When Carmel is feeling under the weather, or has a hard day at the vet’s office, I pull out her absolute favorite toy: The Mint Stick.  As an added bonus, it gives her fresh kitty breath (and a quick teeth scrub).  But I mostly love it because she loves it.  Be it a ribbon wand or a plush toy she can rabbit-kick to her heart’s content, a favorite toy can make everything right in the world for your cat.