Animals

12 Safe Pet Toys to Keep Your Cat or Dog Occupied for Hours

Give your dogs and cats a way to release their energy that doesn't involve destroying your slippers.

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Part of keeping your pet happy and healthy is making sure they’ve got enough toys to keep them engaged and stimulated when you’re not able to spend quality time with them. Of course, this is most important when they’re young, but even older cats and dogs need safe pet toys to keep them occupied throughout the day.

Why do pets need toys?

Believe it or not, animal boredom is real. According to the experts at Rover.com, dogs and cats need enough mental stimulation and exercise to keep them entertained, healthy, and well-behaved. “Idle paws often lead to unwanted behavior — getting into the trash, counter surfing, excessive digging,” shared certified trainer and behaviorist Colleen Demling.

Other bad behaviors include chewing things they shouldn’t (like furniture or your favorite shoes!), moving objects around the house, and other unruly behaviors like excessive barking and even biting.

How to Choose the Best Pet Toys for Your Furry Friend

Not all pet toys are created equal, though. Just as you’d use caution with toys for your baby and toddler, you’ll want to be on the lookout for flimsy materials that pose a swallow risk for pets and kids alike. 

You’ll also want to make sure you choose toys that match your pet’s size — toys that are too small can be swallowed or become lodged in your pet’s mouth or throat, which is dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

Want some ideas? We found the best of the bunch out there, so keep scrolling to see Woman’s World’s picks for the best toys to keep your pet occupied.

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Best Dog Toy for Teething Pups

NWK Freezable Pet Teether Cooling Chew Toy for Dogs

Where to buy: $12.99, Amazon

Aside from the ample energy puppies have to play and explore their surroundings, there’s also the teething stage, in which notoriously sharp puppy teeth begin to fall out and are replaced with adult teeth — usually around 12 weeks or so.

Pop this cooling chew toy in the freezer to provide instant relief from sore gums, or fill the inside with treats to give your pup a fun way to snack. It’s also safe and made of non-toxic, durable materials, making this toy a winner all around.

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Best Scratching Toy for Your Cat

YOUTHINK Cat Scratcher

Where to buy: $29.99, Amazon

Cat scratching is a totally normal behavior — felines of all ages scratch to remove the dead outer layer of their claws and to mark their territory (they leave both a visual mark and a scent when they scratch due to the scent glands on their paws). As long as your cat has an appropriate outlet for her scratching, your furniture and household surfaces should be safe.

Enter this fully scratchable cardboard ring, which can be moved into various shapes, so your cat will never get bored as you mix it up for them. It also comes with a packet of catmint so you can get your kitty acquainted with her new toy — and with enough room for even larger cats to comfortably stretch out, cat owners will wonder how they ever lived without it.

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Best Dog Toy for Slow Feeding

dog toy for slow feeding

Trixie Mad Scientist Turn Around Interactive Dog Toy

Where to buy: From $18.29, Chewy

Slow feeder toys are a great way to help prevent your pet from ingesting their food too fast — but it’s not just puppies and kittens that scarf down their kibble. Pets of all ages do this, often because of “anxiety, boredom or a learned habit, or [it can] occur purely because they are so food-motivated,” Dr. Clare Rathjens of Tranquility Veterinary Services in Washington D.C. told Chewy. Fast eaters can benefit from slow-feeder toys, like this one by Trixie, which lets you stuff each beaker with toys or treats. When your dog figures out how to flip open each lid, they’re rewarded with a tasty morsel or two.

With two sets of lids that you can mix and match for varying levels of difficulty, and non-slip rubber feet to hold the game in place, this toy is designed for intermediate-level pups to help indulge their playful side, while giving you peace of mind as they play.

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Best Cat Toy for Slow Feeding

PetSafe FUNKitty Egg Cersizer Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser

Where to buy: $5.99, Amazon

It’s not just dogs that risk getting sick from eating too quickly — cats can do this, too, so you’ll want to have a toy on hand that will engage your kitty while protecting her tummy.

This interactive food dispenser comes in a pack of one, two, or three, and the egg shape lets it roll around, so your cat will be endlessly amused as she tries to snag a treat or two. The holes are adjustable so you can fit varying sizes of treats or kibble in them, and it holds about a cup of dry food, so you’ll be able to fit much of your cat’s meal in at once.

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Best Dog Toy for Gentle Chewers

soft dog toy

Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel

Where to buy: $19.99, Amazon

Soft toys might not be the most suitable for strong chewers, but if you’ve got a pup that goes a bit more gentle on his toys, look no further than this activity puzzle tree trunk. By placing the included squirrel toys with hidden squeakers in the holes of the trunk, your pup will have to play “hide and seek,” challenging his brain and busting boredom while you’re busy.

In four sizes, it’ll suit all from small breeds to the most gentle giants out there. As one recent buyer boasted: “I purchased this as a Christmas present for my dog. She tends to get bored and destroy toys quickly, so this looked like a nice toy to try as a little puzzle for her. It’s been about 3.5 months and the trunk and (most) of the squirrels are still going strong. She happily looks for the squirrels whenever we hide them in the trunk and despite her usually being rough on toys, most of them still have all their stuffing and their squeakers. Even after being washed (accidentally) the squirrels are in good shape. One of our cats likes playing with the toy squirrels, too! All-in-all, this is one of the most enjoyable and long-term dog toys we’ve purchased.”

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Best Activity Center Cat Toy

activity center for cat

Trixie 5-in-1 Cat Activity Center

Where to buy: From $34.41, Amazon

This all-in-one center provides tons of stimulation for curious cats, encouraging them to explore with their tongue, teeth, nose, and paws as they play in the many pegs and crevices. With a bunch of challenging games and spots for you to place her favorite treats, your cat will never get bored again, and you’ll rest easy knowing your fur baby has plenty to keep her occupied.

One recent buyer called it “the best activity center we’ve ever purchased,” adding, “Solid construction. Well designed and difficult for our cats to get their treats without being impossible… [My wife] has as much fun placing the treats to challenge them as they do finding them.”

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Best Dog Toy for Strong Chewers

strong dog toy

KONG Extreme Dog Toy

Where to buy: From $8.49, Chewy

Pet owners know that when it comes to indestructible chew toys, it’s KONG or bust. This toy, made of ultra-durable, all-natural rubber and designed for extreme chewers, lets you stuff it with your pup’s favorite treats, peanut butter, yogurt, or kibble, for a tasty surprise each time.

When he plays with his KONG, he’ll exhaust his mind and body trying to sniff out what’s inside, and it can also be frozen for additional relief on hot days or for teething pups. It will keep him challenged both mentally and physically, and you’ll feel better knowing he won’t tear it to bits as he plays.

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Best Catnip Toy

catnip toys for cats

SmartyKat Skitter Critters Cat Toy

Where to buy: From $1.97, Amazon

Cats go downright crazy for catnip! According to Purina, the perennial herb, which comes from the mint family labiatae, strikes a response that includes sniffing, chewing, licking, and head shaking, followed by chin, cheek, and body rubbing, along with stretching, drooling, jumping, licking, aggression, and hyperactivity when they get a whiff.

It’s also totally safe for your cat since they’ll stop messing with it once they’re done playing. But if you don’t want to find catnip all over your floors, you’ll love this set of three mice. They’re the perfect pick to let your cat bat, swat, and toss them around without making a mess of your home. And they provide up to 10 hours of play for less than the cost of your morning coffee. What could be better than that?

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Best Treat Dispenser Toy for Gentle Chewers

bobbing dog treat dispenser

StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy

Where to buy: From $11.19, Amazon

With dual chambers to dispense treats and kibble and adjustable openings to provide the optimal difficulty level for your dog’s needs, your four-legged friend will spend hours trying to snag a surprise from this dispenser toy. It even has a wobbly bottom, so it’ll encourage your dog to chase it around, getting physical and mental stimulation as he plays.

In two sizes (small and large), it helps alleviate anxiety and boredom in pups of all ages, with the larger chamber fitting more than a cup of food for bigger breeds. One recent reviewer noted that it’s “perfect for hyper pups,” adding, “Finally, an indestructible toy that keeps my pup busy!”

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Best Roller Cat Toy

roller ball cat toy

Easyology Amazing Roller Cat Toy

Where to buy: $16.99, Amazon

Your cat will love this ball-and-track game that forces her to find the three vibrant balls hidden in the tower’s three layers. It mimics the movement of prey, encouraging your cat to chase the balls as they roll around, and it’s sturdy enough to hold still for even the most feisty of felines.

With no small parts (so no choking hazards to worry about here!), it’s also surprisingly quiet, so you won’t get distracted  as your cat chases the balls around all day long.

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Best Treat Dispenser for Heavy Chewers

dog puzzle treat dispenser toy

West Paw Zogoflex Qwizl Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Puzzle Treat Toy for Dogs

Where to buy: From $12.75, Amazon

In two sizes (small and large) and three bold colors (granny smith green, tangerine, and aqua blue), this durable puzzle toy will stand up to even the toughest of chewers.

You can insert just about any kind of treat, from jerky strips to cheese chunks, and let your dog enjoy as he tries to release whatever you left in there for him. It’s fun to toss, fetch, and chew even when there’s nothing in it, and it’s recyclable and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning once your pup has sunk his teeth into it and slobbered all over it.

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Best Variety Pack for a Bored Cat

catnip toy variety pack

Fashion’s Talk Cat Toys Variety Pack

Where to buy: $10.99, Amazon

If your cat needs an assortment of toys to keep her engaged, you’ll love this 20-pack of feathers, catnip, jingle balls, mice, and more to let her choose what she’s interested in playing with.

With 1,420 five-star reviews, you can’t go wrong with this variety pack. One recent buyer wrote, “My cats are relentless when it comes to their toys. This product is worth the money and your cats will love them!” We’re sold.

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