Animal shelter supervisors have to be careful when selecting interactive toys because they have to meet several strict criteria in order for them to be considered. I have listed the minimum criteria for what a good interactive toy should meet. Toys that do not meet the guidelines below must be disposable due to risk of contamination or risk of injury after a single use.
Must be easy to disinfect between cats
Has to be entertaining and easy to use
Should be long and reach far
Must be durable and hard to destroy
Is safe and cannot cause injuries
I do not want a cat to ingest a plastic eye from an interactive toy that is not made with safety in mind or for them to tear up a ten dollar toy in one minute. Most animal shelters do not have a budget to accommodate the swift destruction of toys that they purchase for their volunteers or staff to use for play sessions. There is a real need for high quality cat toys that provide a valuable playing experience.
The perfect toy has been found that fits all of the criteria mentioned and goes beyond what traditional cat toys are able to provide in terms of being interactive and durable. The perfect toy for the animal shelter setting is the Neko Flies Ultimate Cat Wand which is manufactured and sold by Nekochan Enterprises.
Nekochan enterprises is a company that specializes in crafting and selling high quality pet products. One of the main reasons for starting the company was to provide higher quality toys that were durable and could engage cats on a ongoing basis, by highlighting their natural hunting instincts in a safe indoor environment for play. The toy is also perfect for incorporating a more interactive bonding experience between the owner and cat.
I choose to review this product since I am a certified cat behavior consultant and have a shelter management certificate. I barely could get this toy pieced together before my cats were pouncing on the toy and chirping at me to give it to them. One of my cats even attempted to drag the entire package away from me. Finding a toy this attractive was fantastic news for me because providing play sessions is paramount for keeping cats happy and healthy. Scheduled play sessions can help curb obesity, provide physical plus mental exercise, and decrease stress for cats that housed in the shelter environment.
Shelter Cats Love It!
The string is adjustable to three different lengths which include 18 inches, 25 inches, and 32 inches long. This technology is called telescoping. This feature is incredibly useful in the shelter environment where there is an array of different personalities and age groups which may thrive better on different string lengths. Being able to alternate the distance between you and the cat is one great way to provide variety for the shelter cats. The biggest plus is that it will allow volunteers who are disabled and cannot move around much to play with the cats from a long distance away. The clip for switching the length of string is very durable and can hold up to nearly any amount of pressure.
The toy is very easy to disinfect since you can take off the attachment prior to thoroughly spraying down the rod with Trifectant or Accel. Toys like the Cat Charmer and the Cat Dancer are good cat toys but cannot be disinfected well enough to be feasible since spraying them down would ruin the toy. I have disinfected this toy about 50 times at the time of writing this post and can report that the graphite holds up very well to the routine disinfectants used by animal shelters. The attachments have held up to being washed in a washing machine then dried about 20 times now which is fantastic.
This toy has met my own safety requirements which are very strict. I will not use a cat toy for the shelter cats that does not pass my 3 point inspection. The eyes and other parts of the toy which can be dangerous if swallowed do not come off easily at all. Repetitive chewing and clawing has not damaged any component of the toy. The plastic eyes and legs are tied on so securely that there is almost no way for them to be separated which provides peace of mind for me. Glue used is minimal and non-toxic to any animal that could ingest it.
The Realistic Birbug
The Realistic Kattipede
I tested out the Neko Flies with my own cats and with the shelter cats who have had experience with a large variety of cats toys such as the Cat Charmer and the Cat Dancer. The Neko Flies were much more popular than all of the other toys that I have used in the past in terms of being interactive and engaging for a long duration of time. This toy is so successful because it mimics the design of critters that your cat would find in the wild. Below is some footage I shot of the toy being played with in the shelter environment.
The endless variation of movement, size, and attachments is what makes this toy the best for animal shelters to use. The price is going to be higher than your average cat toy but you should keep in mind that you will not have to buy and store 5 or more cat toys which would be harder to keep disinfected and maintained in the shelter environment. It would be much easier to store this one toy with 5 attachments in one location for volunteers or staff to use. You can purchase this toy by clicking here.
Zachariah Atteberry has over five years of shelter experience and has professional experience dealing with many areas of animal care such as behavior, medicine, and nutrition. He looks forward to sharing his expertise with you.