Cheap Cat Crap of Which My Cats Never Tire

You know what I’m talking about. You buy the bestest, hottest new new thing and your cat LOVES it for about 37 minutes and then refuses to even look at or sniff it thereafter. Unless it’s to give it a sniff of disgust when you’re looking.


But once every year or two I run across something of which my cats never tire. Here are a few that are perennial favorites (click images to go to product pages for more info):

The Japanese Cat Bank.

Cheap enough that even though I was convinced the cats wouldn’t go for it, during an Ambien-induced late night shopping spree I decided to give it a try.

All of my cats are mesmerized by it, but only Reno (the demonic engineer) has figured out how to make it go. You press a button, and a paw comes out to pull the coin (or in his case, thin air) into the bank box. Peering in, you can see the rest of cat, which also meows when activated. Reno sits there and hits the button over and over and over, sometimes attacking the box to try and get the kitteh to come out and play. The other cats purrvide a captivaaudience. A year and a half later, Reno still plays with it daily.

Late at night, we can hear him out in the living room, hitting the button over and over, kitteh meowing. Very entertaining (and great viral video fodder) if you can get your cat to play the game. $12.99.

This Cat Scratcher


We have fancier, more stylish ones, but this is the scratcher all four cats use many many times each day. Tripper tends to sleep on it, as if it’s a base station he can power up from. Homer likes to jump atop the pole, balancing like a circus elephant, either playing with Tripper or using it as a launch pad to try to climb the column in the foyer we keep the scratcher next to. With Chewy packing paper draped atop it, it functions as a tent pole. It’s well built and has held up much better than many of the pricier scratchers we’ve got.

I shopped long and hard to find the purrfect pole scratcher when I observed that Homer preferred stretching out vertically to scratch. All of the cats can do a stretchy scratch on it, yet it’s not so tall that it’s in danger of being tippy. The base is wide; this scratcher does not tip. (A tippy scratcher can spook some cats from using it.)

Still doesn’t keep Homer from shredding the expensive Persian carpet, but one cannot have everything. $17.81

Around $40, various colors

The Under-the-Birdfeeder Portable Catio

This changed Homer and Reno’s life.

We’d had a problem with them breaking out of the house to go outside. They learned how to open the screen door at the slider. Every breakout required a frantic hunt for them, usually ending with Mr TF snaking along on his belly beneath the deck to grab them. Or hiding for a couple of hours in the neighbor’s back yard waiting for one of them to emerge from the undergrowth. And when I say “them,” I mean Reno.

Homer was trained on the harness (training took all of about 30 seconds; he was a natural) and we could take him on walks so he could sniff every blade of grass or flower and stalk lizards. Reno goes ballistic when he sees the halter; it was apparent after several attempts that we would never be successful even getting the harness on him, much less walking him in it.

We can’t afford building an elaborate catio at this time, so I tried this one out. It’s marketed as a dog kennel (as used at shows), but is a purrfect catio. It’s super-portable, and even comes with a carrying case. There are two zippered doors on the sides, and the top zips all the way around, so access is super easy. It easily fits a heated cat cup, two cat beds, a litter box, a water dish, a food dish and a treats dish.

It sits under the bird/squirrel feeder, so they have sunrise-to-sunset entertainment. It cleans easily, and is engineered like an origami crane, folding up to a small easy-to-carry package.

Reno and Homer spend most of their days inside it (boy, the rare rainy stay-inside days are tough). They get lots of stimulation, and it sates their need to be “outdoor cats.” And when they’re lucky, the skunk stops by so they can sniff her butt.

Starts at $12.91

Catit Design Senses Speed Circuit

We’ve had one for several years, and the boys still play with it daily. It’s kind of like having a train or slot-car set where you can add on to it with additional sections. Great toy to have around if you’re off at work during the day because it doesn’t require someone waving a wand or tossing toys to engage the cat. Prices start at just under $13 for a basic unit. Don’t try to save a buck going for the cheap-ass MIC knockoffs. The Catit models are well-engineered and well worth paying the slight premium.


ABO Gear Tunnel

I originally got this when I was training Tripper for an agility course, but it has been tops on the play list for every single cat since then. Unlike most cat tunnels, this one is tall enough for a cat to run through when playing THoE. After years of use and abuse, it’s still going strong. You can buy more than one to create a longer tunnel (although the original length is more than sufficient), and you can add a little enclosure at the end.

When not in use, we store it behind the couch, and the cats sneak in to nap in it.

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Category: Featured, Lifestyle

About the Author ()

Mousebreath Magazine is an award-winning online magazine that celebrates cats and the cat-centric lifestyle. Editor Karen Nichols is a popular conference speaker and writer, whose current project is The Cat Scout Handbook. She is also the denmaster at

Comments (2)

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  1. Brilliant I have the cat scratcher but thank you so much for letting me know about the other products. Always wanted a pop up kitty and the tunnels look great fun.x

    • Mousebreath says:

      The tunnel is the only cat tunnel I’ve found that is tall enough for the cats to fully stand up in and run thru. The mesh allows them to see each other when one is outside and one is inside the tunnel, or for us to tease them with wand toys. And it collapses completely for storage. I highly recommend it.


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