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January 5, 2015

When it comes to cat toys, “interactive” has become the new buzzword as pet owners strive to ensure their felines get plenty of both physical and mental stimulation. Interactive toys provide both. Further, battery-operated electronic toys are leading the popularity stakes in this category.

Electronic and Moving Toys

“There are so many new, exciting ideas coming to this category, we’ve only scratched the surface,” said Mandie Sweetman, product manager for the Petsafe brand of electronic cat toys manufactured by Radio Systems Corporation based in Knoxville, Tenn.

“Cat owners understand that once their pet masters one style of toy, they need a new challenge,” she said. “And it’s for this reason, interactive cat toys have become a focus in the cat toy set.”

The Pounce, with a mouse that dashes haphazardly around a track, is a relatively new addition, to the company’s line-up but Sweetman said that in terms of sales, it’s definitely a firm favorite.

“Cats can’t get enough of it and the four speed settings are very appealing to the pet parent too,” said Sweetman. “Our research shows that cat owners are spending more on such toys than they have done in the past as well.”

Petsafe has a new teaser toy debuting at the Global Pet Expo in March.

“It’s a type of peek-a-boo game,” added Sweetman.

Rolf C. Hagen has had great success with its Catit Design Senses Play Circuit and add-on accessories, which engage a cat’s senses in terms of sight, sounds and touch. The company launching new additions to the line.

The Catit Senses Roundabout is designed to heighten felines’ senses of touch, smell and sight and it stimulates cats’ urge to track and pounce. The battery-operated Roundabout features a randomly rotating rod featuring LED illuminated fiber optic fibers to engage cats’ visual tracking instincts. The rotating rod pushes and spins a catnip-filled rubber ball held securely in the molded plastic unit. The unit can be used alone or integrated into an existing Senses Center.

“Also new is the Catit Senses Cat Treat Maze, an interactive treat dispenser that provides varying degrees of difficulty for the cat and can accommodate a variety of treat shapes and sizes,” said Courtney Curzi, public relations spokesperson for the company.

According to Aimee Diskin, director of innovation and product development at Worldwise Inc., the market for electronic toys has grown dramatically over the last several years because pet parents know that there is more value in an interactive toy that their cats will return to constantly to engage with time and time again.

“In particular, motion toys have increased in popularity because the erratic movements created by toys like our SmartyKat Feather Whirl capture a cat’s attention by activating their natural instincts to stalk and pounce,” she said.

New products from Worldwise include the Mystery Motion, a new slant on typical cat-and-mouse chase games. The Cheese Chaser is a zippy remote controlled mouse with an ergonomically designed mouse-shaped controller. The toy has an eight-inch long spring-feathered tail and a high-gloss durable shell that cats can sink teeth into. Fully charged, it offers cats up to 15 continuous minutes of play.

Wand Toys

When it comes to wand toys, new on the market is the Neko Birbug from Nekochan Enterprises, the creators of Neko Flies.

The Birbug features a telescoping rod, which allows cat owners the option of a longer or shorter string to engage cats in games.

“The design is in response to consumer requests for options in terms of short and long strings,” said Ellen Tsuyuki, product designer and owner of the company. “Thus the telescoping rod allows the owner to choose how they play with their cats no matter what kind of environment they are in, whether it’s a small apartment or large house. The Neko

Birbug toy offers cats the opportunity to pounce on a toy with realistic prey movements and also has colors that cats can see,” she said.
One of the features of Birbug toy that is special is a gliding motion when moved through the air, giving it an enticing view from a cat’s perspective and offers a variety of opportunities for cats to engage in different kinds of play styles.

“For example, a long rod with shorter string is ideal for making cats climb up and down cat towers or move to higher places,” said Tsuyuki.

She also pointed out that this benefits breeders at cat shows, who have to work in confined spaces on the show floor as well as for cats that enjoy an agility course. Further, the rod is interchangeable with the other Neko flies toys as well as other toys on the market.

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