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tashirosgt
2009-Jul-28, 02:55 PM
The question of how to make a good cat toy is a question of technology, so I don't think this thread belongs in Off-Topic Babbling (although, when one speaks of cats, such things are difficult to prevent).

By a "good" cat toy, I mean:

1. A non-living toy. No (biological) mice, bugs, other cats etc.
2. A toy that gives the cat exercise without me having to manipulate the toy or frequently retrieve the toy from under sofas, tables etc.
3. A toy that will periodically interest the cat. The cat won't spend all its time playing with it but it won't lose interest in it either.

Examples of unsuccessful cat toys.
1. Catnip filled furry balls, imitation mice. Even the ones that squeek only interest my cat for a few minutes.
2. Remote controlled toy cars, animals etc. The ones that I have tried are so large that they scare the cat. Plus I have to work the controls.
3. Assemblies of ropes, cords etc. that cats are supposed to enjoy. They are no better than drapery cords and my cat has become bored with them.
4. Laser pointers. They fascinate my cat, but I have to manipulate them.


Cats show so much interest in laser pointers, that the simplest idea seems to be to have some sort of device (perhaps it could attach to an overhead light fixture) that would periodically turn on and move the beam of a laser ponter around randomly on the floor.

I would think that modern technology would allow a small mechanical toy to be buiilt that would amuse a cat. It would periodically become active for a few minutes and then have a long period of inactivity. Perhaps it could detect when it was being played with and adjust its behavior accordingly.

The only nearly successful cat toy that I had was a device that randomly moved a rod that had a furry toy suspended from it. It was programmed to have periods of inactivity. However the cat quickly demolished the furry toy and the base of the device wasn't substantial enough to prevent the cat from knocking it over.

Some cats are reported to watch TV, however Mine will occasionally watch a moving dot on a compute monitor. However, I think most cats don't have much interest in 2D displays. If a 3D display of some kind could be made it would at least be as nteresting to the cat as watching birds and fish. I don't know if the "MagicEye" illusion can be adapted to cats. That might be one approach. (Come to think of it, I've never seen an animated MagicEye display adapted to humans. Surely, they have such a thing nowadays. )

Swift
2009-Jul-28, 02:59 PM
My cat is a cheap date. At least, when she was younger, a paper bag, a sheet of paper, a string, were much better toys than anything else. She would as soon play with the packaging as she would the contents.

Of course, at 17, she now spends about 23.759 hours per day asleep.

geonuc
2009-Jul-28, 03:07 PM
You could attach the laser to a ceiling fan.

megrfl
2009-Jul-28, 03:15 PM
My cats plastic lizard keeps her busy for hours.
She loves to play with it under the kitchen table, up and over the chair leg supports,
over and under, batting and catching it.

We have a new addition, Moses, he is keeping her busy. They play all night, playfully stalking each other, so far nothing has been destroyed. :)

uncommonsense
2009-Jul-28, 03:28 PM
Try an e-puppy. It uses a bunch of things like small hidden sound devices that make playfull "come claw my eyes out" puppy sounds, along with some small cervos you set up to bang inside of cabinets and closets at random time intervals; incuded is Mary K-9 puppy scent to spray around the pad olong with some used puppy chew toys and misclaneaus sundries of the sort. That aut to keep your cat healthy and neurotic. Available only from endless stream of consciousness outlets....

geonuc
2009-Jul-28, 04:25 PM
My cats plastic lizard keeps her busy for hours.
My boy cats loves them, too. The squishy kind.

I need to get more - he had four or five, but they're all gone. Somewhere.

Gillianren
2009-Jul-28, 05:39 PM
D seems to have calmed down from his early kleptomaniac days--nothing small enough for him to steal has gone missing for ages--and he won't much play fetch anymore. However, it is sometimes possible to occupy him for literally hours with hard candy. I throw it, and he chases it. He'll bat it around, too. I have not, unfortunately, been able to find a toy that has the same properties of size, shape, and sound but not the regretable tendency to shred and get sticky.

Demigrog
2009-Jul-28, 06:59 PM
If I brought home the ultimate cat toy, my cats would gleefully play with the packaging material instead.

danscope
2009-Jul-28, 07:23 PM
Hi, Your cat wants you to be involved often times.
Here's a good toy. Take a plastic bead that you find on a girls' hair tie. They have a very short elastic with two beads about 5/8 " in dia.
Cut off the elastic. Makes two toys. Get some strong braided nylon fishing line. I like 60 pound test. Cats are tough. Take about 10 feet of line and tie it through the two holes in the bead. Throw this bead out on the hard floor. Laminate floors, hard wood, kitchen linoleum, tile etc. The bead bounces
quite a bit and makes a noise cats like. You can toss it over furniture and cats scramble for it. Good, cheap toy that works. :)
Best regards,
Dan

cjameshuff
2009-Jul-28, 08:45 PM
If I brought home the ultimate cat toy, my cats would gleefully play with the packaging material instead.

A box. To illustrate: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oskay/156280584/in/set-72157594170390035/
Not much for exercise, though...

DigiKey uses a kind of expanded paper packing material that I put down as a bed. My cat likes to lose toys in it and rummage around for them, burrow under it and peek out through it, or just curl up on it:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/oskay/377247724/in/set-72157594170390035/

Tie a milk ring or two to a string (shoelace, in my case). It'll stay put better than a loose milk ring, and is not significantly less fun to play with. Two tied together will tend to prevent either from laying perfectly flat, making them easier to bat around.

ginnie
2009-Jul-29, 12:37 AM
My two perfect cat toys:

1. A rolled up piece of tinfoil. Their favourite.
2. Pipe cleaners. (Make sure you bend over and electrical tape the tips so they can't get poked by the sharp point).

Of course, they love it even more when you throw the tinfoil balls (both of them return them to me). Shylock will sit in the hallway with a foilball in his mouth crying for me to pick it up and throw it up the steps.
And for some reason, the cats will deposit their cat toys - ones I've made, and ones they've claimed ownership over - on our bed. I've found up to five "toys" on our bed at one time.

Both of them can be asleep upstairs, and I'll crinkle some tinfoil - just the tiniest bit - and I'll hear them jumping off the bed, running down the steps and meowing, waiting for me to throw it.

Gillianren
2009-Jul-29, 01:15 AM
And for some reason, the cats will deposit their cat toys - ones I've made, and ones they've claimed ownership over - on our bed. I've found up to five "toys" on our bed at one time.

I know why D does that; it doesn't make it any less gross to find them in the morning.

Middenrat
2009-Jul-29, 01:21 AM
Foilball MkII to include a flange of brown parcel tape, which seems to fascinate my moggy. I hope tashirosgt isn't physically compromised, or too busy to play, as the level of technology he suggests is spurious, dangerous even: a cat's retina is at risk using lasers, so don't!

cjameshuff
2009-Jul-29, 01:42 AM
Foilball MkII to include a flange of brown parcel tape, which seems to fascinate my moggy. I hope tashirosgt isn't physically compromised, or too busy to play, as the level of technology he suggests is spurious, dangerous even: a cat's retina is at risk using lasers, so don't!

Lasers aren't magically eye-destroying. A laser pointer is very unlikely to harm a cat's eyes. However, I would not give mine a ball of aluminum foil...chewing on such a thing could easily lead to cuts and ingestion of bits of foil. Try a ball of brown paper wrapped in tape or something.

Tuckerfan
2009-Jul-29, 01:53 AM
Its a bit pricey, but (****Autoplaying, noisy video at link****) Pleo (http://www.pleoworld.com/) seems to be pretty much the ultimate in feline "entertainment" devices. See here for some kitty/Pleo interaction fun. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jm3tBHfzMA&feature=related)

Tucson_Tim
2009-Jul-29, 02:02 AM
Its a bit pricey, but (****Autoplaying, noisy video at link****) Pleo (http://www.pleoworld.com/) seems to be pretty much the ultimate in feline "entertainment" devices. See here for some kitty/Pleo interaction fun. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jm3tBHfzMA&feature=related)

Pretty cool. But we have a couple of male cats that I'm afraid would have that rather expensive toy in little pieces in a couple of hours.

tashirosgt
2009-Jul-29, 02:08 AM
That's a great video.

But the toy is too big. As I observed, most such toys scare the cat. We need a mouse size toy. (Another interesting "too big" toy is the "National Geographic Tarantula". It will scare most people too. However it doesn't move across uneven surfaces very well.)

I think the stories about playful cats are mostly about fairly young cats (or perhaps terrribly bored and neurotic indoor cats). My cat is about 6 years old and slightly overweight. She will play with things, but they must have more novelty than bits of paper and string.

Gillianren
2009-Jul-29, 02:46 AM
D is five. He's not terribly playful at the moment, but he's overheated, poor thing. And he's stupid, not neurotic. Indoor cat, yes. On the other hand, when I had outdoor cats, we didn't have cat toys. They had outside for that.

Swift
2009-Jul-29, 03:08 AM
And for some reason, the cats will deposit their cat toys - ones I've made, and ones they've claimed ownership over - on our bed. I've found up to five "toys" on our bed at one time.

I suspect this is the same behavior as when they bring you "breakfast in bed" (we've had mouse served a couple of times over the years). I think they are bringing back "their kill", to share with their pride, or something like that.

Celestial Mechanic
2009-Jul-29, 04:25 AM
Whatever you do, don't use a laser pointer in a cat toy, at least not in the US. That has already been granted a patent by the US Patent Office.

tashirosgt
2009-Jul-29, 05:01 AM
Is the idea of using a "laser pointer" what is patented or does the patent cover the use of any laser diode?

geonuc
2009-Jul-29, 08:35 AM
Is the idea of using a "laser pointer" what is patented or does the patent cover the use of any laser diode?
The existing patents seem to cover how the laser is employed to amuse the cat.

For example, my idea of putting it on a ceiling fan is patented:

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6701872.PN.&OS=PN/6701872&RS=PN/6701872

djellison
2009-Jul-29, 02:33 PM
The question of how to make a good cat toy is a question of technology,

Yes. Buy toilet roll. Use as usual. Throw the used toilet roll tube onto the carpet. Watch cat have PLEASURE :) Seriously - Gizmo goes ape for them. Or string. Or fake flowers. Or a bit of newspaper....


lasers etc. are cool and all well and good, but something they can get their teeth and claws into - literally - are a far better 'toy' for pets.

The simplest, cheapest things will give you cat LOADS of stimulation.

geonuc
2009-Jul-29, 03:02 PM
Yes. Buy toilet roll. Use as usual. Throw the used toilet roll tube onto the carpet.
My boy cat doesn't wait for the toilet roll to be used up - he unrolls it onto the floor himself. I suppose we could turn it around, but he has so much fun with it.

Tucson_Tim
2009-Jul-29, 03:18 PM
My boy cat doesn't wait for the toilet roll to be used up - he unrolls it onto the floor himself. I suppose we could turn it around, but he has so much fun with it.

We have two cats (both males) that do that too. They also unroll the paper towels from the dispenser above the kitchen counter.

danscope
2009-Jul-29, 08:03 PM
My cat loves a cardboard box. If it is or seems smaller than he would fit, it's all the better. If the edge cuts into his neck, it is humoured.
No toy can compete with his beloved card board box. Luxury!!!
Price; 0.000 dollars. Enjoyment? Off scale!
:)
Dan

Tucson_Tim
2009-Jul-29, 09:20 PM
My cat loves a cardboard box. If it is or seems smaller than he would fit, it's all the better. If the edge cuts into his neck, it is humoured.
No toy can compete with his beloved card board box. Luxury!!!
Price; 0.000 dollars. Enjoyment? Off scale!
:)
Dan

You got that right Dan! We have a couple of cats that will try to wedge their big bodies into the smallest box. It's comical.

And when we have a large cardboard box, I turn it over, cut one door and then cut windows on each of the other three sides, then set it in the middle of the room. They will play the "ambush game" for hours.

danscope
2009-Jul-29, 09:58 PM
Hi, Ah... yes, The old "ambush the other cats" ploy. I can see them now...
plotting, wait ing for the best opportunity and then 'pounce'.
Cats kick butt.
:)
Dan

clop
2009-Jul-29, 10:08 PM
My cat, an abandoned pet that I slowly befriended and re-tamed, does not play with any toy. Despite my best efforts at making paper mice and tying string to the ceiling fan etc. she sits stock still and won't budge. I don't know how old she is, not too old I don't think, but she's a nervous type with true feralness lurking microns beneath her fur.

clop

ginnie
2009-Jul-29, 10:11 PM
My cat loves a cardboard box. If it is or seems smaller than he would fit, it's all the better. If the edge cuts into his neck, it is humoured.
No toy can compete with his beloved card board box. Luxury!!!
Price; 0.000 dollars. Enjoyment? Off scale!
:)
Dan

One of mine does too. And yes, it is hilarious when he squeezes into a box that is clearly too small for him.

Gillianren
2009-Jul-29, 10:19 PM
My cat, an abandoned pet that I slowly befriended and re-tamed, does not play with any toy. Despite my best efforts at making paper mice and tying string to the ceiling fan etc. she sits stock still and won't budge. I don't know how old she is, not too old I don't think, but she's a nervous type with true feralness lurking microns beneath her fur.

A friend of mine had a cat rather like that. Her favourite game was "let's hide under the futon."

Trebuchet
2009-Jul-30, 03:59 AM
My cat, an abandoned pet that I slowly befriended and re-tamed, does not play with any toy. Despite my best efforts at making paper mice and tying string to the ceiling fan etc. she sits stock still and won't budge. I don't know how old she is, not too old I don't think, but she's a nervous type with true feralness lurking microns beneath her fur.

clop

I've read, somewhere or other, that playing, meowing, and purring are basically infantile behaviors that wild or feral cats grow out of. Kept as pets, they stay in the kitten stage for much longer.

We currently have two 1 year old Ragdolls and a 16 year old Himalayan. The old lady does not play much any more. She's always been a bit strange anyhow. The absolute very best toy for the ragdolls, especially the seal point, is a paper bag from the grocery store.

They also like the laser pointer. That, as Tashirosgt has said, requires effort on the part of the human. And what the heck is wrong with that?

Swift
2009-Jul-30, 01:35 PM
I've read, somewhere or other, that playing, meowing, and purring are basically infantile behaviors that wild or feral cats grow out of. Kept as pets, they stay in the kitten stage for much longer.

Yes, I've heard that from multiple sources, including some TV nature channel type programs. One explanation of purring is that it is a means for kittens to communicate with mom as to "here I am and things are OK".

Think of what the average mom cat does for her kittens - feeds them, grooms them, even plays a little (though that's more with other kittens) - all the things we do for our cats. I recall one program that even noted the fact that the ratio in size between an adult cat and a young kitten is similar to the ratio between the average human and a cat. So in a sense, we are their moms.

Demigrog
2009-Jul-30, 02:02 PM
I think there is more to it than humans just being surrogate mother cats; if that were all, non-domesticated cat species should be, well, domesticated. I figure that a few thousand years of selective breeding probably has created new instinctive behaviors towards humans that are not simply extensions of natural behaviors. Comparing the house cat genome to a close undomesticated breed would be interesting (and I figure somebody is doing it, somewhere).

Tuckerfan
2009-Jul-30, 02:39 PM
I think there is more to it than humans just being surrogate mother cats; if that were all, non-domesticated cat species should be, well, domesticated. I figure that a few thousand years of selective breeding probably has created new instinctive behaviors towards humans that are not simply extensions of natural behaviors. Comparing the house cat genome to a close undomesticated breed would be interesting (and I figure somebody is doing it, somewhere).Yes, cats like us because we have thumbs. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/28/AR2007062802343_pf.html)
Why Do Cats Hang Around Us? (Hint: They Can't Open Cans)
Genetic Research Suggests Felines 'Domesticated Themselves'

Your hunch is correct. Your cat decided to live with you, not the other way around. The sad truth is, it may not be a final decision.

But don't take this feline diffidence personally. It runs in the family. And it goes back a long way -- about 12,000 years, actually.

Those are among the inescapable conclusions of a genetic study of the origins of the domestic cat, being published today in the journal Science.

The findings, drawn from an analysis of nearly 1,000 cats around the world, suggest that the ancestors of today's tabbies, Persians and Siamese wandered into Near Eastern settlements at the dawn of agriculture. They were looking for food, not friendship.

Gigabyte
2009-Jul-30, 04:00 PM
Aren't we all?

Gillianren
2009-Jul-30, 04:34 PM
Our house rule is that those (I say people, but whose cat doesn't consider itself people?) with opposable thumbs can eat whatever they want. Those who don't can eat from things that have their picture on the package. D eats cat food; there's a picture of a cat on the bag. If I had ferrets (shudder), it would work out the same way. Now, D does get treats such as tuna water, bits of chicken, and a few other things, but it's given to him by people with opposable thumbs.

The truly sad thing is that, because he has no experience in the wild or with his mother past being a couple of weeks old, he doesn't know how to take bites from things. The poor dear would starve if he didn't have us. A friend tried to give him a pork chop bone once, and I told her she couldn't, because he'd just drag it around the apartment and abandon it, meat intact, under the couch.

Gigabyte
2009-Jul-30, 06:02 PM
Ultimate cat toy. Hang some meat on a string.

Gigabyte
2009-Jul-30, 06:02 PM
For better results, do not feed cat for 24 hours prior to the introduction of the toy.