March 15, 2020

3 Comments



Staying Home With Your Cats - Getting Creative With Cat Toys - The HEXBUG

If you find yourself spending more time at home your cats will quickly notice this change and they may start to demand more from you. After all, people are often a cat's favorite toy. 

A cat hides inside the Cat Ball® cat bed as he watches a human engaging in play

Retro watches the Cat Dancer toy from inside the Cat Ball®

My cats need attention at very predictable times and intervals and they will just not leave me alone until I address their needs. Frequently it's just that they are feeling more awake - they are energetic and need to play. If they were feral this would be the time that they were actively engaged in hunting, so what I can do now is to give them some exercise and play with them. 

We would like to offer you some new ideas about what you can do at home to entertain your cats and to help manage the potential for cabin fever. 

These are my general rules for playing with cats

  • Anything can be a toy
  • Kids toys are good toys
    • Kids are good at playing with cats
  • Things that make noise are good toys
  • Things that slide are good toys
  • Things that bounce or wiggle are good toys
  • Things that move are good cat toys, and if they can move unexpectedly, they're even better
  • Things that are satisfying to bite are good toys
  • Associate a distinctive sound with your cat's favorite toy
  • Incorporate your cat scratchers with play
  • Sometimes just sitting and watching is important

Anything Can Be A Cat Toy

cat sitting in a box because cats love boxesYou and your cat already know about this one

Yes, you and your cat already know that boxes are great cat toys. Instagram knows it too, just look at #fridaynightboxpawty to see how popular this activity is. Here are some suggestions to get the most out of your cardboard:

  • Add packaging paper or tissue paper
  • Add catnip and the paper
  • Add a HEXBUG Nano® (more on that later)
  • Add a HEXBUG under the paper
  • Get the cat in the box then activate your laser pointer
  • Add the Sheer Fun for Cats toy (more on that later) 
  • Add boxes to boxes
  • Put boxes under tables and furniture
  • Move boxes around

These ideas are simple but effective. Adding a layer of paper in the box changes the character of the box, which can renew a cat's interest. Hiding a toy such as the HEXBUG under the paper creates a prey/predator scenario that some cats love; the Sheer Fun For Cats toy creates a similar environment for prey/predator play. 

Why is moving the boxes around effective? Cats are keenly aware of their environments and making these changes might seem simple or even ridiculous to you, but cats are likely to explore these changes so they can fully understand their environment. 

Kids Toys are Cat Toys - the HEXBUG

Two of my favorite kids toys that can be good with cats (and dogs) are the robotic toys like the HEXBUG and the Sphero robot ball (I use the Sphero mini). I'll focus on the HEXBUG here. 

The HEXBUG nano robotic toy can be a good cat toy

The HEXBUG Nano® is a robotic toy and I've used the HEXBUG nano®, which is a bit larger than a toothbrush head. There is also a larger size made for toddlers, called the HEXBUG nano® junior. The tiny HEXBUG nano® can get lost easily so here are my suggestions for incorporating this neat toy into playtime with your cat (and your other cat, and the dog, and the kids)

Containing Your HEXBUG

These are some things I've used to keep a HEXBUG from getting lost. 

  • Boxes
  • Tracks
  • Tissue grass
  • Easter Eggs
  • Bathtubs
  • Laundry Baskets
  • Zipper bags

Obviously you can put a HEXBUG in a box or bathtub so I will explain the less obvious ideas. 

Mighty Hunter in the Grass

This game combines a HEXBUG with party supplies or party table decor to create a fun hunting game! In this photo you see how I hid a robotic toy (it's a cute pink thing that looks like a mouse) in a mat of green tissue grass.

A cat plays with a robotic toy hidden in a mat of fringed tissue grassRetro plays with a robotic toy hidden in the mat of tissue grass

This is a fun game to play! The little robot will buzz around in the tissue grass. The grass vibrates, the toy makes noise, and your cat's predatory instincts will be activated! Tissue grass, also called fringed tissue or fringed tissue mats, is a party decor supply. You can get it in a fun variety of colors, it isn't expensive, and it's easy to order. 

Pink fringed tissue grass mat, a party decor item

This pink fringed tissue grass was on the Walmart website

I've found this fringed tissue to be durable and cats seem to like it a lot, even if you aren't hiding vibrating robots in it. 

A cat chases a HEXBUG robot toy hidden in a fringed tissue grass matRetro chases a HEXBUG hidden in a fringed tissue grass mat

Bug in a Bag

The problems I immediately saw with the HEXBUG were: it escapes, it's hard for cats to bite, it needs a hard surface. I solved those problems by putting one in a heavy duty Ziplock® Space Bag® travel bag, one of those heavier plastic bags that you might use to compress your clothing when you're packing the suitcase. I found the heavier plastic to be more effective than other options and I did not fully seal the bag or make any effort to remove air. The HEXBUG moved well and I I saw that it would now work on a soft surface (like on top of the bed), the cat could bite the bag and move the bag around (and he liked that) and the toy didn't get lost. 

In this video you can see that I didn't really seal the bag at all and it's working great:

 Retro had a good time chasing his bug in a bag!

Add Track Toys

My cats have the Bergan Turbo Track cat toy and it's a great toy to use with robotic toys because the robots fit right into the channel.

Retro and Tink watch a HEXBUG vibrating in their Bergan Turbo Track cat toy

 

The Old 'Easter Egg' Trick

Ingredients: 

  • One HEXBUG
  • One plastic Easter egg
  • A cat

Directions:

Find your cat. Activate HEXBUG toy. Insert into plastic Easter egg. Give to the cat. Run. 

Put a HEXBUG robotic toy into a plastic Easter egg for a great cat toy

This game is loud and even louder if you put it on a table or hardwood floor. It will get your cat's attention!

Here is demonstration of the HEXBUG inside an Easter egg and...whoops!

 

 

Have you tried giving your kitty a little robotic toy yet? What happened? Did you try anything that I haven't? I'd love to hear any good idea that you had, or about any goofy things your cats did. 

Do you have a catnip-loving kitty?

Read about a good way to keep your catnip toys fresh (and smelling like delicious catnip) in this blog post. We also make cute catnip toys. 

 

 

 


Jennifer Boaro
Jennifer Boaro

Author



3 Comments

Lina
Lina

May 01, 2020

My cats love the hexbug, but I’m always worried about it getting lost. The plastic bag idea is genius! Something else that’s worked for us – I cut random holes in the top of a box and then put the hex bug (and other toys) in the box. The cats like to stick their paws through the holes to catch it. This works best with a shallow box so they can reach the bottom easily.

Nicole
Nicole

March 18, 2020

Amazing! I never thought about the “hunter in the grass.” I will start incorporating that today, the boys are so confused as to why I am home.

Lora Kelberg
Lora Kelberg

March 18, 2020

Thanks, I bought a few hexbugs a couple of years ago and never found a good way to have my cats play with them.One is in fact permanently lost.Now I have good suggestions for the ones we still have.

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