I Always Thought Cat Toys Clashed With Decor—Until I Found a $25 Robot on Amazon

updated Nov 19, 2020
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Finding aesthetically-pleasing pet furniture and toys is difficult, but doable. Maybe you’re like Kristen Bell and opt for baskets that serve double duty as pet beds, or you’ve invested in modern pet furniture that that doesn’t totally clash with your home decor. Making sure my cats love the toys and comforts I buy them is the most important factor when it comes to rating the success of my purchases, but I’d be lying if I said a toy’s form wasn’t important to me, too.

Earlier this year, my vet suggested I look into buying a laser pointer toy to help my older cat get enough exercise. (Laser pointers provide cats with both an opportunity for physical exercise and mental stimulation, the pros at Rau Animal Hospital in Glensdale, PA, noted; if your cat seems more interested in staring directly at the laser, you should remove it immediately.) That’s when I happened upon a $25 upright robot from Amazon, which looked like a distant cousin of Eve from Disney’s “Wall-E.”

When the toy arrived, I set it on the corner of a console, plugged it in to a wall socket, and haven’t touched it since. I don’t need to: My cats play with it every single day.

The toy is just under eight inches tall, and blends in pretty seamlessly with the rest of my bright, white apartment. While the cat ears verge just on the side of twee for me—I’m the kind of person who doesn’t want paws and “meow!”s all over my cat decor—they’re small enough to be mostly unobtrusive.

By far the best feature, however, is the automatic timer that controls the laser under two settings. (The toy also has a manual feature for more concerted playtime.) Every 75 minutes, the toy wakes up and traces its laser across the floor for 15 additional minutes. It’s just enough play time to keep my cats entertained without getting them overexcited, and if I want to reset the timer, I can with a press of a button.

That timer does use up quite a bit of battery, so if you’re looking to set your toy and forget it, it can help to clear a space near an outlet. (The toy plugs into a USB-enabled cord, so you can even plug it into your computer if you need to distract kitty during a work Zoom.) As for my cats, I assume their only frustration is that they can’t ever seem to fully catch the little red dot before it skitters away.