There are a lot of cats in our neighbourhood; a ridiculous sum, actually. Some it’s clear are outdoor cats who belong to individuals on our road, but most are street cats, strays/ferals who belong to no one in particular. Here in Cascais, Portugal, things seem to be a little different from the norm, however. I almost feel like the term for “street cat,” “gatos de rua,” feels more like it should mean “cats who belong to everyone on the street” rather than “cats who roam the streets and have no owners” – because pretty much every other home owner keeps a bowl of food and water out for these cats, even if they have no cats of their own.
I can’t even count the number of cats that have been on my property since moving here in September. 20, 25? Though some look similar so it may be closer to 40. And if I increase the premises to the number of cats I’ve seen on just my street alone, it’d probably hit 50-60 unique cats easily.
There are a crazy number of kitties here, and for a cat lover like me, that’s created quite a lot of happy moments. From watching cats doze off in the hot afternoon sun, to hearing the three almost identical looking sibling cats we like to call “the triplets” have a lighthearted chat between them, I can’t count the number of lovely memories I’ve already made here in the few short months we’ve been in Portugal.
Then there are the cats who quite literally stop by to play. Sure, at first we lured them over with a bite or two of kibble, but most stop by regularly or at least occasionally to chase around a de-leafed hedge branch that I trace around the floor in a figure eight.
I’ve been trying to think up a number of toys I could use for these outdoor cats who come over for the fun of it, but whatever I take out I want to fit one really important requirement – the toys have to be completely waterproof/weatherproof. Because honestly, I don’t want to be taking things out and bringing them back in. I’d love for the cats to be able to play with most of the toys on their own, and it’s not like I know for sure when rain is coming, so I don’t want to have to pull in toys lest they rust or decompose due to rainfall.
If you’re looking for totally waterproof, you’re likely only going to find luck (in the cat toy department at least) with toys made completely or primarily of plastic, so that was essentially the result. A lot of these make for really good indoor toys, too, so if you ever want to wash them down and bring them in, it’s super easy to do. They’d be great for catios as well as full on outdoor areas, and though many of the smaller ones can get lost, they’re not all that pricey, so I personally wouldn’t worry about them needing to be replaced if they happened to be kicked into strange places. I’d do a scan of the yard before mowing the lawn to make sure none of these toys went out too far if I had a lawn, but I’ve nothing of the sort to worry about with my paved back garden. There are some grates that will need to be covered with mesh before a lot of these littler toys go out, and I’ll definitely be sure to watch the cats play with them to make sure they aren’t being rough enough to break them, but there are lots of good options here, which I wasn’t really expecting.
Let me know if you’ve got any ideas for outdoor cat toys or have tried any out in the past that you did or didn’t like. If you have toys for outdoor cats out, do your cats play with them? How much use do they get? Do your outdoor cats have favourites? Please leave these thoughts in the comments below. Now let’s get into the cat toys perfect for leaving outside!
Toys for Outdoor Cats, Indoor Kitty Catios, & Street Kitties
This ridiculously popular ball track cat toy is made completely out of plastic, so won’t rust (as with metal), melt (as with paper), or decay (like with wood) if you leave it outside 24/7. It’s also ridiculously easy to clean if it gets muddy – I’d imagine hosing it down alone would do the trick. And since the balls are on a track and it’s an easy-to-spot toy because of it’s colour, no part of the cat toy could easily be missing or lost in your yard.
Due to all these factors, I personally think this would be the best outdoor cat toy around. Though there are a number of other really good options, none of them have quite so many benefits, especially since most can much more easily be lost.
Looking for another track toy because you love this idea, but would like a little more variety, or a couple different ones to be placed in different places in your yard? The FAT CAT Crazy Circle Interactive Cat Toy, looks like another excellent option to me, though it’s one-level rather than three, and looks like it’d skid a bit more than the Petstages Tower of Tracks toy.
These are undoubtedly Avery’s favourite toys. For a while, cat springs went off his radar, probably just because we were living in a small apartment with him, in a studio flat actually, and he didn’t feel he had enough space to chase after a bouncing spring without smashing into things.
Now that we’re back in a house, he’s gone back to playing with cat springs. Things are actually even better now that we have long hallways and plenty of room, because he’ll now go so far as to play with the springs 100% on his own. My absolute dream since Avery’s typically so hard to engage in play.
Cat love spring toys? Want to try a few more spring varieties that will work outside? These to me look plenty good for leaving outdoors:
- Ethical Pet HDP Spot Cat or Kitten Colorful Thin Springs
- Categories Catty Coil Spring Action Cat Toy
Yet another typically-used-indoor cat toy that would be ridiculously good outside, either in a catio, on a porch, or really anywhere so long as you’re okay dumping out any water it caught in the rain or snow. I have absolutely never been able to get Avery to bother with cat tunnels for more than a moment, but I know some cats love these things to bits, so it may be an idea to get a slew of them and pepper them around to keep kitties entertained outside.
Another collapsible cat tunnel that may do the trick: the CO-Z Collapsible Cat Tunnel Tube Kitty Tunnel.
If your cat likes balls, they are 100% the easiest way to get one heck of a lot of variety of cat toys outdoors without any risk of the toys getting damaged by the weather if left outside 24/7. There are soooo many toy ball varieties perfect for cats, but if you’re looking for ones that are ideal for outdoors, here’s my list of the ones I think would make the top shelf:
- Ethical Products SPOT Sponge Soccer Balls Cat Toy
- KEVENZ Ping Pong Balls Orange Table Tennis Balls
- Hartz Just For Cats Cat Toy
- SPOT Atomic Bouncing Ball Cat Toy
- Petmate Jackson Galaxy Cat Dice
- ThinkPet Rubber Flavored Hollow Bounce Rolling Ball Kicking Fetching Toy
- Petmate Jackson Galaxy Satellites Cat Toy
- Rhode Island Novelty Icy Ball Bouncy Balls 1 Dozen
Slow feeder bowls like this Cat Catch Interactive Bowl are an excellent option for combining snack or meal time with play, as well as slowing down cats who typically eat too quickly. There are plenty of other slow feed cat toys that would work just as well as this one outside, as the vast majority are made of plastic, and some are even ceramic. Some are also ideal for wet food if that’s what you’re feeding, so do check those out if you’re curious about options.
My favourite for Avery that would also work outside since it’s made of nothing but plastic? The Catit Design Senses Food Maze. In my mind, it would be a great alternative to this slow feeder, or even an excellent co-food toy to consistently leave out.
Definitely would put slow feeders in an ever-dry area in your garden – you don’t want left over grub to get swampy!
If you’ve got the kind of outdoor flooring, really a paved area with no holes of any sort in it, and want to give something to entertain your cat, encourage him or her to exercise, and do so in a way most cats cannot resist (with the bribe of food!), this PetSafe Slimcat would be perfect. I’d imagine it’d work out great for most catios, as they would guarantee the ball wouldn’t fall into the grass, thus making it much more difficult for a cat to eat up any kibble that’s fallen into hiding in the blades of green, but you know your yard, and likely know if one of these would work or not in your outdoor space.
The vast majority of the toys I picked out on this list are toys a cat can play with completely on his or her own. If you have outdoor cats, or are trying to keep the lives of the street, stray, or feral cats or kittens who swing by your garden interesting, I think these types of toys are the best to have around for them, as you never know when they’ll get the urge to play outside.
However, if you ever actively want to engage a cat every so often, or have a catio for your indoor cats and want some toys you can actively use to play with them, while also being able to leave those inside the catio, teaser wands that are made completely of plastic and mylar are perfect for this kind of thing.
While your cat may get most of his or her swats out happily onto cat springs and toy balls, if you’re looking for more whack-a-toy type playthings for you to leave outside for cats, these Cat Crazies, as well these made completely of plastic, are ideal for that type of thing:
- Doskocil AFC PETMATE 26333 Looney Loops Cat Toy
- SPOT Cat or Kitten Colorful Fun Tubes
- OurPets Catnip Infused Flippers Cat Toy
Be careful with wine corks, by the way. I once tried testing those out with an outdoor cat, and he bit and was unable to release the cork from his teeth. If he’d jumped away before I got a chance to take it out of his mouth for him, it would’ve been a huge issue – especially if he’d been a stray or feral cat without owners who would’ve noticed and helped take the cork away.
Chew toys make amazing additions for cats who like to chomp and gnaw. There aren’t all that many that would hold up outside, but these chew-able sticks, as well as the Petstages Cat Toy Orca Wiggle Worm would qualify.
A Few Other Things to Enhance Cat Life Outdoors
Not quite toys, but here are a few other things you can use to enhance life for cats who spend time outdoors. Let me know if you can think up any more in the comments.
My outdoor floor mat has been scratched to pieces and its not even a jute/sisal rug at all. I’m sure if it was, it would hold up better, and the kitties would appreciate scratching on it a whole lot more. Love the idea of having a few of these for kitties to scratch up (instead of the trees, which to my luck hasn’t happened in my garden yet), near the entrances and maybe even some other spaces.
I’m sure you probably thought of putting cat grass in your garden, and if so, here’s a little reminder you wanted to try to do so. I really want to try this out myself, I’m sure the visiting cats would love it.
Cat tents and cat canopies not only act as a nice dry place to hang out during a drizzle or a rainfall, they’re also fun for cats to nap and hang out in. Then there’s the other purrfect spot for cats to nap and hang out in that I’ve actually grabbed for my own garden…
Cat houses! There are so many ones that are great for using outdoors. There are multi-cat options, insulated ones, even electronically heated cat houses you can place outdoors if you live in the kind of region that gets pretty harsh winters and want to keep kitties as warm as possible. I’m guessing if you grab one, no matter how cheap and basic, you’ll be impressed by how much use cats give to these. Cat houses in general are pretty swell for keeping cats happy.
Your Thoughts on Outdoor Cat Toys?
Have you ever bought or DIY-ed toys for outdoor cats? What did you end up trying? Did the cat(s) like the toys you made/bought?
Are there any toys you know of that would be perfect for leaving outside for cats? Any (like wine corks!) that should definitely not be let outdoors because they could be dangerous?
Really looking forward to hearing what you think in the comments down below!