The 11 Best Cat Toys You Can Buy for Less than $5

Written by Joyce Nash
Published: December 2, 2023
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One of the best parts of having a pet cat is playing with them every day. Watching a cat zoom across furniture or tackle a stuffed mouse is highly entertaining, especially since cats spend so much of their time lounging and sleeping. However, maintaining a stock of fresh toys for your cat to play with — or ignore completely, given their finicky tastes — can be expensive. Keep reading to discover the 11 best cat toys you can buy for less than $5. Many of these low-cost cat toys can be made from common household items, making it easier for you to keep your cat active, entertained, and healthy.

11. Wand Toy

Orange cat playing

Wand toys encourage cats to run, pounce, and jump.

©Casey Elise Christopher/

Cats are hunters and have strong instincts to stalk and pounce. Wand toys allow cats to express their predatory inclinations while keeping your hands out of reach from their claws. This type of cat toy typically includes a wood or plastic rod with ribbons, feathers, or a string attached to a ball, cork, or other small item. 

Start by slowly dragging the feathers or ribbons along the ground to get your cat’s attention. You can also try poking the feathers out from underneath a piece of furniture or around a corner. As they start to chase and pounce on the wand toy, you can challenge your cat to jump by waving the toy in the air.

10. Ball of Paper

Adorable fluffy white ragdoll cat playing with paper balls on the floor in light room and looking at the camera with blue eyes. Lovely cute purebred feline pet outdoors with toys

A wadded up piece of paper can trigger your cat’s hunting instincts.

©Tatyana Vyc/

The next time you wad up a piece of paper, try tossing it to your cat before you throw it away. There’s a good chance your cat will start happily swatting at the ball, sending it across the floor so they can give chase. They may lose interest after a few minutes or hide the paper under a piece of furniture for a future date.

9. Stuffed Toys

cat playing with a toy

As carnivores, cats have four sharp canine teeth.

© Popova

If you want to give your cat something they can sink their teeth into, look for small stuffed toys at grocery stores or dollar stores. Small stuffed toys emulate the types of animals that cats like to hunt, like mice and birds. With stuffed toys, cats can bite and kick to their heart’s content. If you’re crafty, you can sew, knit, or crochet your own stuffed cat toys. However, be sure to replace or repair the toys once their stuffing starts to show.

8. Catnip Mouse

Bombay cat playing with toy

According to researchers, about 50% of cats don’t respond at all to catnip.

©Lux Blue/

Catnip is an herb that contains nepetalactone, which sends many cats into states of friskiness or relaxed euphoria. Toy mice with catnip stuffed inside are an inexpensive way to treat your cat while encouraging them to play. Only about half of cats respond to catnip, but if yours does, they’ll likely bite, chew, or swat at the stuffed mouse to release the catnip’s active ingredient.

7. Ball of Yarn

two Scottish gray cute little kitten crawls out of a gift box with a red and white ball of woolen threads on a white background. cats hiding in a box with copy space

Thrift stores often have craft sections with low-cost yarn.

©YanaVasileva/iStock via Getty Images

If you knit or crochet, you probably know how much cats love to play with yarn. Cats love to chase the balls as they roll on the floor, and their soft texture is perfect for cats to bite and dig their claws into. Keep an eye on any yarn your cat is playing with to make sure they aren’t trying to chew or eat the loose ends. For low-cost cat toy options, check out the craft section of your local thrift store for balls or skeins of yarn.

6. Jingly Balls

Cute crossbreed Persian cat playing with a ball. A mixed breed cat is a cross between cats of two different breeds or a purebred cat and a domestic cat.

Some cats love toys that make sound.


Some cats go wild for small plastic balls with bells inside. The jingle-jangle sound as they roll across the floor seems to inspire cats to swat them even harder. These low-cost toys can typically be found in grocery stores and dollar stores. Keep in mind that you may want to put these toys away in the evening so midnight playtime sounds don’t wake you up.

5. Stream a Video

Super cute cream tabby cat on tv

Try playing a nature documentary to give your cat some variety.


To mix up your cat’s entertainment, try finding a nature documentary online to stream. Some cats love watching TV or computer screens, especially when there are images of animals that cats naturally hunt, like birds and rabbits. Make sure your TV or laptop is secure in case your cat tries to swat at one of the animals!

4. Cardboard Box

Snowshoe cat playing inside a cardboard box

You can add a sprinkle of catnip to an empty box for a special treat.

©John Hanson Pye/

Cats are famous, or perhaps infamous, for their ability to enjoy an empty cardboard box. The next time you get a delivery, set the empty box down and see how long it takes your cat to hop inside. Once they’re in the box, you can use a wand toy to tease them from over the top edge. Alternately, add a bit of catnip or some of your cat’s favorite toys to the box to create a special play area for them.

3. Paper Bag

Cat in a paper bag

Try using a wand toy to play with your cat while they’re inside a paper bag.


Paper bags seem to hold a special allure for some cats. Not only do they offer a new place for cats to curl up, but they also create a crinkly sound that some cats enjoy. You can use a wand toy to play with your cat while they’re inside a paper bag, dragging the feathers around the edge for them to bite and swat at. Be sure to cut the bag’s handles to prevent your cat from getting tangled in them.

2. Toilet Paper Tube

British Blue cat playing with toilet paper

Try rolling an empty toilet paper tube across the floor for your cat.


While some cats will happily play with a full roll of toilet paper, turning the roll until it’s completely empty, it’s best to give them the empty cardboard tube. Some cats are happy with the plain tube, but you can add some variety by putting a small bell inside and then taping the ends shut. Alternatively, you can add ribbons or plastic drinking straws to the end to create a low-cost cat toy for your cat to chase and chew on.

1. Laser Pointer

cat laser pointer

A laser pointer is a great way to help your cat get more exercise.


If you want to send your cat running from room to room without much effort on your part, pick up a laser pointer from the grocery store. These low-cost cat toys create a red dot of light on whatever surface you point them at. Many cats can’t resist chasing the red dot across the floor and over pieces of furniture. This toy will encourage your cat to get plenty of exercise. Be sure to never point the laser into your cat’s face, and be mindful that you aren’t leading your cats into dangerous places as they chase the dot.

Summary of the Best Cat Toys Under $5

#1Laser Pointer
#2Toilet Paper Tube
#3Paper Bag
#4Cardboard Box
#5Stream a Video
#6Jingly Ball
#7Ball of Yarn
#8Catnip mouse
#9Stuffed toys
#10Ball of paper
#11Wand toy

The photo featured at the top of this post is © zossia/

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About the Author

Joyce Nash is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel and geography. She has almost a decade of writing experience. Her background ranges from journalism to farm animal rescues and spans the East Coast to the West. She is based in North Carolina, and in her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two cats.

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