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10 awesome toys to keep your pets busy inside this winter

11 months ago

Winter has come, and house pets that thrive in the outdoor environment are bored, morose, cranky, and tired of binge-watching Netflix. They need some action in this frigid climate. They need to feel a part of the kinetic forcefield of the Earth, or at least terrify a mouse. With one or all of these imaginative, arousing, thoroughly interesting play toys, your cat or dog will almost forget they’re indoors.

A cat toy gold mine | Youngever 24 Cat Toys Kitten Toys Assortment

For the discriminating but hopelessly indecisive cat, this mega-pack with 24 different cat toys will drive them absolutely batty with glee. It includes a collapsible tunnel, multiple crinkle balls, a teaser wand, a few stuffed and docile mice, spring-like devices, and something that looks like an underfed garter snake attached to a plastic baton. Any single one of these toys would make your cat happy for a week, but all of them in one box? They’ll need a straitjacket.

Will dig for food | PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Dog Feeding Mat

Dogs that are confined for the winter miss practicing their foraging skills in the wild. They pine for the summer days when they could paw in overgrown grass for some tasty (to them, anyway) morsel of food. The PAW5 feeding mat helps keep their razor-sharp instincts intact. Simply hide some dry vittles in this platform full of felt “weeds,” and watch your pooch paw madly for its supper in a deliberate, frightening fashion. Besides, the food’s probably way better than whatever they scrounge up in the jungle.

Stick with the classics | KONG Classic Dog Toy

Just like old-time movies, vintage wine, and boxed macaroni and cheese, you can’t go wrong with the classics. That’s what this KONG toy is: a red, rubber, three-section toy that turns a dog’s jaw into a weapons-grade chewing machine. It’s hollowed out so pet owners can stuff food inside, like kibbles or peanut butter. This method seriously ups the ante, driving your dog toward a single-minded obsession. It also comes in your choice of four rubber chewing “profiles”: “classic” firmness, softer “puppy” grade, “senior” level and something called “extreme” rubber which we’re guessing is good for coyotes.

Triple play | AUOON Cat Scratcher Toy

Three things drive the physical ambitions of house cats: scratch pads, little balls, and small furry objects. This deceptively simple construction brings all the elements of that trinity into the same device. It’s a circular plastic frame with an inside track built for the constant, maddening roll of an unattainable ball. It’s got a scratch pad mounted inside. Finally, it features a spring-like flagpole with a furry rodent replica on top, in case the cat wants to make things personal.

Undercover cat | SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Cat Toy

This contraption makes cats question the very nature of their existence. A flat, fabric disc conceals an electronic, wand-like mechanism with some kind of fur-like “creature” attached to the end. With just a push of a button the creature darts about under the mat. This effectively drives your cat insane, as it stalks, pounces, claws, and negotiates terms for the creature’s ultimate capture. As if this chase wasn’t enough, the SmartyKat toy also includes flashing electric lights just to add another layer of drama.

Squirrel! | Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Squeaky Puzzle Plush Dog Toy

Another thing indoor dogs can’t do in the frosty winter chill is torment squirrels. They can’t chase after those skittish little rodents with the beady eyes and the frankly ridiculous tails. This plush toy may not be the real thing, but it might be even better. It’s a toy tree trunk dotted with holes. And what creatures lurk within these trunks? No less than six, squeaky, far too self-satisfied plush squirrels. Your dog will spend hours trying to coax and cajole these little twerps out of their cowardly crawlspace. It’s the little things.

Cat vs. fish | Potaroma Electric Flopping Fish

This electronic toy is a faithful reproduction of a wriggling, panicked fish that has somehow wandered seriously off-course, out of the water and straight into your cat’s crosshairs. Whenever your cat touches the fish, it springs into a tragic death dance which your cat will find both pathetic and amusing. The cat will grab, claw, strike, and repeat this grim leisure for hours. The Potaroma Flopping Fish also contains a pouch for catnip, as if the cat needs more incentive.

Pick your prey | Vitscan Stuffless Dog Toys

The Vitscan line of contemporary dog toys has something for every canine on your gift list — whether they prefer to take out their aggressions on foxes, frogs, monkeys, tigers, or (of course) squirrels. All their plush toys are fashioned with four tug ropes where the animals would usually have limbs, so your dog can chew their heads off. Whatever animal type your dog prefers, it has crinkly paper inside for audible stimulation, as well as a squeaker in the head area for the animal to offer its disembodied protest.

Search and consume | Trixie Flip Bone Dog Game

This is described as a “board game” for dogs, but it’s actually another means for them to build logic and problem-solving skills. The owner places dry dog food underneath a couple of “sliders” and rubber “cones,” then introduces the device to the dog. At first, the dog is perplexed, but then senses the presence of food somewhere within the contraption. The dog forms an action plan and goes about trying to manipulate the sliders, remove the cones, and finally get the food, kind of how we did in college.

Three levels of fun | Petstages Cat Tracks Cat Toy

Not one, not two, but three separate tiers of ball-chasing excitement await your cat with the Petstages toy. There’s a ball on each of the concentric tracks on this toy. The second your cat gets one ball under control, there’s another one that breaks free. And another one after that. Naturally, your cat will use its reasoning and judgment to decide which one to pursue. Then they’ll try to rip it to shreds. Here’s to the feline spirit.

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