The Best Cat Toys, Litter Boxes, and Other Supplies for Your Furry Friend (2024)

The Best Cat Toys, Litter Boxes, and Other Supplies for Your Furry Friend (2024)

  11 Apr 2024   , , ,

Cats are beautiful, interesting, weird creatures. If you’re lucky enough to be loved by one, it’s your God-given responsibility to give them a comfortable and fun home. Cats require a specific environment to play, scratch, and relax. Based on years of testing with our pets, these are our favorite cat toys, litter boxes, and other feline supplies. Even if our cats rejected a particular product, we still examined overall construction, design, and value to determine whether it may be useful for other kitties. They can be finicky, so you may have to consider a few to find the right fit.

Check out our related guides like Our Favorite Fancy Cat Furniture. More of a dog person? We’ve got you covered! See our Best Accessories and Tech Essentials for Your Dog guide.

Updated April 2024: We’ve added new favorites, including the Eufy 360 Pet Camera, Tuft and Paw Porto carrier, K&H Portable Car Seat Kennel, plus health recommendations like Chewy’s free telehealth service and soft cone collars.

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Table of Contents

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Basic Cat Rules and Tips

Don’t listen to the cat haters: Cats do form a connection to their human owners. While they may be more low-maintenance than dogs, they require thoughtful care. Here are some basic dos and don’ts when owning a cat.

Do: Separate food and water. Use multiple litter boxes for multiple cats. Give them ways to hunt their food. Ensure they get exercise and playtime. Give them places to hide and feel safe. Regularly trim their nails. Give them love and affection!

Don’t: Declaw them. Leave them unattended around these toxic plants. Accidentally harm them with common essential oils like eucalyptus. Feed them a vegan diet, milk (yes, really), or these other toxic foods.

Best Litter Boxes

A litter box is essential. What kind you get depends on your cat—not every cat likes enclosed boxes, and others need high sides to shield your walls from urine (sometimes they aim high!). A good rule of thumb is having one box per cat, and one on each floor if you live in a multilevel home. You’ll find cheap, standard litter boxes anywhere you can buy pet goods, but we have a few recommendations we’ve tested.

Tuft and Paw’s products are modern and beautiful (and usually quite expensive). The Cove is simple but is elevated with detachable sides and a place to hold its scoop and small dustpan. If you forgo the sides, it costs $149. The newer Cubby ($69) is a simplified version for less than half the price. It doesn’t have the built-in holder for the scoop and duster but has the same elegant look.

Any medium-size plastic storage bins (without the lid) are cheap and work well for litter boxes. I typically get these from Target instead of the multi-packs on Amazon. If you get a tall one, consider cutting out an entryway and sanding it down so your kitty can easily get in and out—I use a rotary cutter and sandpaper sheets to do this.

More Litter Boxes We Like

  • The Smart Paws Extra Large Litter Box for $59 has been a great investment. It’s large but light, even with litter in it, and it dampens some of the sound from my cat who likes to scratch the sides all night.
  • Good Pet Stuff’s Hidden Litter Planter for $67 nicely blends into small spaces with a clever plant disguise. My only gripe is that it needs to be replaced more often than other boxes. It felt like it got grimy quickly, and no amount of washing could cut it. There’s a similarly designed planter from ExquisiCat we haven’t tried.
  • Can’t decide on a box? Kitty Poo Club for $16-$29 delivers disposable, recyclable boxes to your door every month, with or without litter. The cardboard has a thin plastic coating inside, so it shouldn’t leak, as long as you’re replacing it. Standard-size boxes are $16 without litter and go up to $29 with litter, depending on which type you want. XL boxes are $18 on their own and $60 with litter.

Automatic Litter Boxes

Robotic litter boxes are big and expensive, and experts warn that not cleaning out a box every day could mean missing potential signs of sickness. But we tried two that changed our minds. Both are still large and pricey, but they have connected apps to keep track of your cat’s bathroom habits. You’ll know if something is up, but you can still scoop less.

Whisker’s Litter-Robot 4 (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is sleek and futuristic-looking, with a bigger drum that will likely appeal to larger cats. The cleaning cycle is quick and nearly silent. It does a great job of concealing odors too—the smell is shocking when you open that waste drawer. Read our review for more about our experience using it.

The Casa Leo (formerly called Smarty Pear) was the first automatic litter box I tried and it convinced me they’re worth it. Leo’s Loo Too (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is a tad cheaper than the Litter-Robot and has the same powerful odor control. Both are loaded with safety features to stop cleaning cycles should a cat jump in, but this one is more sensitive if you have particularly curious cats. I love the pop of color, but the drum has a smaller opening that some cats may not like. As someone who dreams of owning a bar or coffee shop called Huxley’s House, I appreciate that it’s named after the owner’s late cat Leo.

Litter Box Accessories

Litter box placement is hard and most people don’t want to relinquish closet space or a bedroom to a litter box. I (Louryn) tested and love this litter box enclosure. It conceals my cat’s boxes from eyes and noses and it gives my kitties privacy. My cats took to it right away and seem to be as relieved as I am that we can’t see one another while they do their business. It looks like a small credenza or freestanding cupboard and the neutral colors work well in most rooms (you can also paint it). I don’t think you could guess it housed litter if you didn’t know. I sprinkle this deodorizer on the litter, but the enclosure does a good job of trapping odors on its own. This is my favorite piece of cat gear I’ve ever tested, and it’s often on sale.

Automatic litter boxes now give you health insights, but you don’t have to spend $700 to know exactly what’s happening when Fluffy visits the commode. Purina’s Petivity (8/10, WIRED Recommends) sits underneath a standard litter box and, once connected to the app, tells you which cat visited the box at what time, how much they weigh, and if they went number one or two. This has made my life much less stressful because now I know exactly how much my cat Huxley, who has lower urinary tract disease, is urinating. If something is off, I know immediately and can get him to the vet.

Litter Genies let you scoop the box every day without a trip to the garbage can. As with a Diaper Genie, you scoop clumps into the top compartment and open a hatch that drops it to a bottom compartment, where it holds in the odors for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to empty it, there’s a handy attachment that safely cuts the bag to tie it off and start a new one. You’ll have to commit to buying refills though. We tried the standard one but there are several size options, including a Plus, XL, and Easy Roll Genie, which says one refill pack can last six months and comes with perforated bags instead of the cutting mechanism. We’ll test that model soon.

More Litter Accessories We Like

  • Don’t forget a litter mat. Whether you use low-tracking litter, a box with steps, or even an enclosure, litter somehow gets everywhere. A litter mat will help keep it under control and you can buy these anywhere they sell litter boxes. Just vacuum regularly and shake it out every so often.
  • Cat not taking to their litter box? Sprinkle a little bit of this litter attractant after cleaning the box. It’ll help them do their business in the designated spot. It’s also helpful for after a move.

Food and Water Bowls

Most vets and cat experts tell you to use stainless steel or glass bowls for your pet’s food and water. Plastic can get dingy and dirty fast, and it holds onto bacteria, which can result in cat acne. If your cat likes the sets of bowls that sit in a stand together, great, but some like their water to be separate from their dry kibble.

It’s no secret that I (Medea) am obsessed with Owala. I drink from the brand’s FreeSip water bottle and my cats drink from this bowl, as do some WIRED dogs. It has a rubbery grip on the bottom to stop it from slipping around, and the coating has held up after many dishwasher runs. It also comes in 48 ounces. We like Yeti’s stainless steel pet bowl too but it costs more.

My (Louryn’s) neighborhood has an affectionate real-life squishmallow of an outdoor cat named Stokely. He’s the sweetest, biggest gravy boat imaginable, but it’s tough not to feel like an enabler when he comes around asking for dinner. A slow feeder has helped curb his habits—maybe not his appetite—but the mat slows him down. We tried a few lick mats from Catflower, and there are dozens of similar options with suction cups to keep them in place. Some reviews mention that particularly toothsome cats might chew on the mats to the point of degrading them. While I have not experienced this, it’s always smart to supervise your pet while they’re eating.

Elevated feeders are great for giving your cats a comfortable eating posture and can even help them to eat slower, hopefully stopping them from vomiting it right up on the carpet. These bowls have some height to them and come in various widths and sizes.

Other Elevated Bowls and Stands We Like

Water Fountains

Cats don’t feel the need to drink water the way humans do. So if they’re unhappy with their water situation, it could lead to dehydration and other serious issues like bladder stones and urethral blockages—some cats don’t like their water right next to their food, which is why it’s recommended to keep them separate. Male cats are especially prone to these issues. Feeding them wet food helps with their water intake, but we wanted a more enticing way for our cats to drink water. Some cats prefer drinking from fountains (or, as many cat owners have experienced, from the bathroom faucet). You’ll need to change the filter about every month, and in some cases, it will need to be near a wall outlet, but it’s worth it if your cat uses it.

We tried Catit’s plastic flower fountain and its stainless-steel-topped fountain. While stainless steel bowls are preferred, some cats may like the way the water flows out of the flower in streams. Just clean it regularly, and make sure to replace the filter when needed.

Uah’s fountain uses a rechargeable pump so you don’t need to plug it in while using it and the battery lasts at least three months before needing a charge in our testing. It’s all stainless so it’s easy to clean—you can put it in the dishwasher. It’s also nearly silent and if you turn on motion activation, it starts to run when a cat is near it and turns off when they walk away.

Catit’s Pixi series offers a smart fountain and feeder controlled via the Pixi app (available on iOS and Android). The fountain’s pump has a small LED that shines through the clear cat nose on the front, turning red when the water is low and blue if UV-C sterilization is on. It blinks blue when the filter needs to be changed, and the app will also alert you. For the feeder, you can use the app to either pour food remotely or on a daily schedule. You can also press the cat’s nose to pour or disable it if your pets figure it out. The app will tell you when the reservoir is ready for a refill. Plus, it includes a spot for backup batteries in case the power goes out while you’re away.

The Felaqua Connect (7/10, WIRED Recommends) isn’t a fountain, but it automatically dispenses water into the bowl as your cat drinks. It connects to an app and, using your cat’s microchip number, keeps track of when and how much each cat drinks. You need the Sure Petcare hub for the app connection, which is included for $199. If you don’t care for app connectivity, you can forgo it for $115 and only get an automatic dispenser, but at that price, you should go with a cheaper fountain.

Scratching Posts and Furniture

Cats need to scratch, and if you want to prevent them from ripping up furniture, you need to provide them with ample scratching posts. Declawing is not the answer—it’s like removing your fingers at the last knuckles—and can lead to problems.

Cats also like to jump and climb whatever they can, so a cat tree should help keep them occupied and off your mantle or breakable glassware. Cat trees are made from materials that can be scratched up, and some include separate scratching posts. If you aren’t worried about aesthetics, you’ll find plenty of good cat trees at pet stores, as well as places like Home Goods or the like.

PetFusion lounges are a long-lasting, but pricey favorite. They’re sturdy and look nice, and once the top has been thoroughly destroyed, you can turn it over for a brand-new surface.

Pet beds are often hit or miss with cats, but this cave has been a huge hit in my house. Even my 20-pounder, Donny, gets in here. There are a few designs to choose from and all are made from durable wool, which should keep them warm and cozy and last longer than faux fur.

Catit’s Vesper line has a nice modern feel that’s hard to find in moderately priced cat furniture. The Small Vesper Box doesn’t take up too much space, but it’s the perfect height to get my cats right at window level. They can nap in the covered bottom level, scratch and play on the second level, and sit on the soft fluffy pillow on top for bird watching. It was easy to put together, and the cloth pillows and pads are machine washable. The Vesper High Base is a taller option, great for multi-cat homes or for pets that don’t necessarily like to lounge together. The Vesper line includes many other sizes and colors.

When you live in a small apartment, everything you decorate with matters because it’s all on display—nothing gets hidden when you only have one to three rooms. Some of us want our cat’s furniture to match too. Mau’s Cat Tree is one of our favorites. If you can afford it, your cats will thank you.

These window seats are a great way for cats to bask in the sun and keep a watchful eye on the neighborhood while safely indoors. They’re easy to install too, with sticky strips that attach to your window sill that can hold up to 40 pounds. You can also nail the base into the window frame, and there are even heated seats for super-spoiled kitties. The covers are removable and can be machine-washed. You’ll need a window sill at least 2 inches deep to properly support it. If you don’t have that, see the product below.

I (Medea) was scared to try perches that attach with suction cups, out of fear they may suddenly fall, but after some searching, I found the Kitty Cot perches. They stick extremely well—Huxley’s 13-pound belly didn’t budge the thing. The seat is made of nylon that should outlast even the sharpest claws. The company used to have mats for the perches, but they’ve been unavailable for months, and your cat may prefer a blanket or bed that they already like anyway.

More Furniture and Scratchers We Like

We have a full guide on the fanciest cat furniture we’ve tried, but be prepared to shell out some serious cash. These are two of our favorites:

Pet Cameras

The ability to sneak a peek at your cat when you’re out offers nervous pet owners (most of us) some peace of mind. Eufy’s camera is our favorite. It’s not cheap, but it pans around and allows you to toss treats while away. A huge plus is that you don’t need to subscribe monthly to get video history. Most other cameras require you to use an SD card if you don’t want to pay.

You don’t need a pet-specific camera unless you want specific features like treat tossing or meow alerts. A simple security camera works just as well and they’re usually cheaper. This one from Wyze rotates 360 degrees and has a privacy mode where the lens faces down when you don’t want it watching.

Cat Toys

If you have a cat, you’ll know they typically want whatever piece of trash they find rather than a nice toy you’ve spent good money on. That said, these Cat Amazing puzzle toys have been well received. They keep my kitties sharp by activating their hunting skills and making them use their brains. They still get lots of treats, but they have to work a little harder for them.

My cats also went nuts for this Ripple Rug. The bottom piece stays in place while the top can be configured into different shapes for playing (or hunting), and you can reshape it as often as you wish. The material feels like felt but is made from 24 post-consumer plastic bottles and can withstand sharp claws.

If you can’t figure out which kind of toy your cats will like, or you just want them to be refreshed every so often, Meowbox is a great subscription. You can choose to get deliveries every one or two months, and they include incredibly cute toys following an equally cute theme, and treats. Plus, for every box sold, the company gives food to a shelter. You can see exactly where on its website.

More Toys We Like

Cleaning Supplies

Cats puke and cough up hairballs, usually on whatever carpeted surface they can find. They’ll also occasionally get a little piece of poop stuck to their fluffy butt hair and drag it across the room in a desperate attempt to flee its grips (maybe that’s just my cat). A good carpet cleaner will be a lifesaver. We have a guide with several options, but I particularly like the Bissell Pet Stain Erase PowerBrush. It’s small and light but powerful, cleaning even day-old stains, and there are no long hoses or tiny little parts for debris to get stuck in—any part that’s going to get grimy from what you’re cleaning can be rinsed out easily. It’s portable too, so as long as it’s charged you can walk around cleaning every surface imaginable without being tethered to an outlet. I don’t audibly groan when I spot a pile of puke anymore, and that’s a big deal.

If you have a lot of carpets, you may want to get a large stand-up cleaner. Our favorite is the Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro. It’s a little bit harder to find now, but it’s still available directly from Bissell.

If your cats aren’t terrified of it, a robot vac might be a worthy investment. It will keep the hair and litter at bay with as minimal effort from you as possible. We have a list of favorites, and this X8 is our pick for pets because it utilizes twin turbines to suck up twice as much dirt in one pass. We didn’t love its maps feature, however. The X8 is pricey, so if you want something to just keep moving around the floor, get the iRobot Roomba 694. It’s often discounted to under $200.

I also recommend investing in an air purifier or two, especially if you’re allergic to the cats you love so much (guilty). We have a few favorite options across varying budgets, but this one is good for rooms up to 930 square feet.

More Cleaning Supplies We Like

  • Unless your pet is hairless, their fur is likely everywhere all the time. The silicone Fur Zapper for $13 is naturally sticky, so hair clings to it in the laundry. Throw these in the washer and dryer, then just rinse ’em off and use them again.
  • The Chom Chom Hair Remover for $28 makes it easy to de-fur the sofa, ottoman, shoes, and any other surface that gets covered in their hair. We use them every single day. It doesn’t fill up too quickly, and emptying it takes all of three seconds. It works efficiently and doesn’t take too many passes to de-fur an entire couch.
  • Sprinkle & Sweep Messy Pet Accident Cleanup Aid for $45 makes cleanups slightly less disgusting (as long as your cat is puking on hard surfaces). You need a bit more than the package suggests, but once the mess is covered, you can sweep it up. The fragrance can be a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t last, and it’s certainly better than the smell of throw-up.

Cat Health

I love Chewy for several reasons—what other company sends flowers if a pet passes away or randomly selects pets to have their portraits painted—but it notably offers a free telemedicine service (unless you live in Alaska, Hawaii, or Alabama). The licensed vets you talk to won’t be able to diagnose, but sometimes you just need a little peace of mind or have someone confirm that you should make a vet call. If you want to video chat instead, that will cost $20.

It’s helpful to have a thermometer on hand in case you suspect your pet may be running a fever. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could bring myself to use a rectal thermometer on my fur babies. Mella’s thermometer, on the other hand, goes under their arm … er, leg … and connects to an app if you want to track and share results. It’s a good step, but if there are other symptoms you may want to go to the vet anyway.

Louryn’s problem child, Luna, has skin issues and a tendency to over-groom. When a flare-up gets too bad, a soft Elizabethan-style collar can help give tender skin a chance to heal (or, in the case of Luna’s belly, a chance for the hair to grow back.) This adorable, strawberry-shaped collar stays put and is easy to clean. We also tried this bread-shaped collar, which has generally positive reviews, though Luna quickly figured out how to take it off. Your cat’s mileage may vary. Remember that you should always consult a vet if you notice any injuries or changes in your cat’s behavior.

Basepaws is thorough. After swabbing our cats’ cheeks and sending the samples back in the included envelope, we received PDFs of nearly 70 pages detailing their breed percentages, several pages about all the cat breeds, and how our babies stacked up against around 115 feline health markers. The test tells you if your cat is clear, a carrier, at risk, or at high risk of numerous metabolic, cardiovascular, eye, blood, endocrine, renal, autoimmune, skin, musculoskeletal, and connective tissue disorders, as well as blood type, transfusion risk, and other traits. Any cat can develop a sickness or dental problems, but having a baseline can alleviate anxieties and can empower you to work with your vet to make the best life choices for your cat.

Cat Carriers

We love Tuft and Paw’s upscale design, but usually it’s out of our price range. The Porto cat carrier (8/10, WIRED Recommends), on the other hand, is reasonably priced given the competition. It looks fantastic, and you can unzip it in a variety of ways. Lay it flat, open one end, or open the entire side. There are seat-belt straps and a luggage pass-through.

The Diggs Passenger Carrier elicits compliments every time we go to the vet. It’s durable and thoughtfully made, with safety features like seat belt clips and a buckle strap. There are also a million pockets, and the interior bed easily fits a pee pad over it if your pal is prone to accidents (one pad is included to try out). There’s just enough mesh to allow your cat to see outside but not be overwhelmed.

I (Medea) recently made a cross-country move for the second time with my cats. I wanted them to be more comfortable than last time, so I bought this car seat cat kennel. The medium size fits both Huxley and Eely-Rue, plus the Friendsheep cave mentioned above with room to spare. It didn’t budge in the car, thanks to a strap on the back for the seatbelt to pass through and a top strap that buckles around the headrest. It folds flat when you aren’t using it.

Roverlund’s carrier is the only one I’ve (Louryn) used that my cats will (sort of) tolerate. I feel better not cramming them against hard plastic or squinting through tiny holes to see them. They feel better with all-encompassing ventilation and a fully unzipping top instead of a claustrophobic cage opening. It’s a win-win situation that has drastically shortened the standoffs between me, my cats, and a looming vet appointment. (We also recommend this carrier in our dog gear buying guide; it’s a WIRED Gear team fave.)

Cat Accessories

Unfortunately, I (Louryn) can speak firsthand to the devastation that comes with a missing pet. There are a few things you can do to prevent it. Step one is to get your pets microchipped. Step two is to make sure they’re wearing a collar with identification. ID tags are widely available, but ideally, the one you buy will be reflective and legible. Whether to list your cat’s name is a personal choice, but the ID should include your phone number.

I ordered this collar for my cat after her brother went on an extended vacation without my permission. The clasp breaks away so the collar won’t cause injury if it gets snagged. It has held up well over time, and it doesn’t bother my easily ruffled fur baby. If it bothers yours, there are plenty of others, some of them high-tech (which I’ve yet to try). No matter which option you choose, make sure that it’s from a trusted brand. The collar should be durable, highly visible, and lightweight, with a breakaway clasp.

More Accessories We Like

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