How To Provide Mental Stimulation For Cats

Interactive Cat Toys for Mental Stimulation

catnip mouse cat chew toys. best toys for bored cats

Calling all cat lovers! Do you know how important it is to provide mental stimulation for your cat? Indoor cats crave mental stimulation. You can give it to them with an interactive cat toy that satisfies them so much more than a laser pointer or small crinkle cat ball can. 

Cats are fuzzy and furry, standoffish, and cuddle bugs. If you belong to a cat, you know they’re hard to pin down. You know they like to nap, hide, and they love fish. Sometimes they’ll let you pet them. And other times not.

But one thing a lot of cat lovers don’t realize is the need cats have for mental stimulation and playtime. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t just champion nappers. They also need to stretch their brains to prevent boredom. Just like dogs, you should provide your feline friend with a healthy amount of attention and stimulation in order to avoid bad behavior or an unhappy kitty.

6 Creative Ways to Entertain Your Kitty

mental stimulation for cats

Play “Hide the Food”

Instead of feeding your cat at regular times out of a bowl, why not appeal to your cat’s inner hunter by hiding pieces of kibble around your house? Start with favorite napping spots so your cat will find it, then branch out a bit. Just make sure it’s not scarfed up by other four-legged family members.

You can even hide catnip in an interactive treat puzzle toy for cats. Smartykats love the challenge of the Buggin’ Out Puzzle & Play treat dispenser by Nina Ottosson. Cats bat at the pegs and swivel the leaves to uncover the 14 hidden treat compartments. Adjust the difficulty of the puzzle to make it easier for beginners or more challenging for super smartykats. Feed your cat its cat food from the puzzle at mealtime to engage their natural hunting instincts.

Late Night Games

cat playing with cat ball

Cats are nocturnal creatures so you might as well give them something to do. You can’t wave a feather wand toy for your kitty to pounce on in your sleep, after all. From a glow-in-the-dark catnip toy to a quiet mat that activates flashing lights when pawed, this nighttime toy line will keep your kitty occupied even while you’re asleep.

Interactive Track Toys

cat playing with tower of tracks new kitten checklist

Put away the teaser feather toy. Toys such as Petstages’ Tower of Tracks are the perfect way for your curious kitty to get the mental and physical exercise needed to stay healthy and engaged while channeling their hunting instincts. 

Watch your cat paw at the balls and try to dislodge them. But don’t worry, the balls won’t come loose! Track toys are even something you can engage in with your kitty, or that your kitty can share with other household kitties. Not only is mental stimulation important, but interaction with others can boost your cat’s happiness level. Meow!

Give Them a Perch

kitten on cat scratcher

You know cats like to muse from up high. When they’re on a shelf or the refrigerator, they have an excellent vantage point (they also like looking out the window at the chirping birds). Plus, being out of reach of dogs and small children has its advantages. Make sure your kitty has a similar space for a safe haven.


Every cat needs a scratcher. Cats stretch their paws to leave their scent (they have scent glands in their paws) and they scratch to leave their mark quite literally. They also scratch because they like to stretch and when stretching, those claws come out. Another reason they scratch is to get rid of the dead outer layer on their claws – it’s kind of like a nail trim. Scratch at the right time and off comes the outer sheath.

DIY Teaser Toy & Cardboard Castle

Thanks to online shopping, cardboard boxes are a popular find in many households and are an easy DIY scratchpad that provides your kitty with endless fun. Not only can your kitty hide and get some privacy in their cardboard box-turned cat tunnel, but they will enjoy playing hide-and-seek from it, too!

It’s easy to DIY a teaser wand too. Simply tie a string to the end of a chopstick, pencil, or broom handle, and add a catnip-filled chew toy at the other end of the string. Wave it around and watch your little chaser wiggle and romp in turbo mode!

What about your kitty? Which one of these tactics will you use to provide mental stimulation and wellness for your cat? 

You can find these interactive cat toys and more on our website, Chewy, Amazon, or your local pet store.