5 alternatives to catnip cat toys

Is your cat allergic to catnip? Don’t fret! There are plenty of other cat toys to choose from.

Catnip cat toys are a go-to for many cat parents – but they aren’t always the best option! Although uncommon, some cats are allergic to catnip. Other cats may react with undesirable behavior under the influence of catnip – aggressive or unruly. There’s also an advantage to alternating toys to keep things interesting for your feline friends.

Fortunately, catnip alternative toys are increasingly appearing on the shelves of pet stores for those who, for one reason or another, find it necessary to avoid the use of catnip for their cats. Such options include:

1. Cotton/organic cotton cat toys

Organic cotton toys are especially hypoallergenic, which makes them a good option for sensitive kitties. Cotton toys without the catnip are widely available on the current pet market.

2. Wool/felted

Lanolin oil, derived from wool, also attracts cats. Ask your distributor about responsible/ethical sourcing of wool.

3. Feathers

Carnivore cat hunters are hard-wired to pounce on anything resembling a feather. Ask your distributor about responsible/ethical sourcing of feathers.

4. Woven straw (preferably organic)

Many cats seem to enjoy the lightweight, brittle texture of straw. It’s crunchy to the touch, which makes it enticing and fun to bat at.

5. Sisal (preferably organic)

Sisal is often the material of choice for scratching posts, and it can also be used for toys – great for your kitty to dig her claws into!

6. Hemp cat toys

This eco-friendly, durable material is perfect for cats who are rough with their toys. It’ll last a long time, and it’s popping up in pet stores more and more frequently!

Cats prone to allergies could be affected by several of the materials above, so only introduce one new toy at a time and monitor for any reaction.

If your cat does not seem interested in toys without the catnip, look for wand (“fishing pole”) versions that you can dangle and twitch in the air for kitty to paw at.


Melanie Demmer writes about alternative health approaches for animals and humans, as well as sustainability and eco-comsumerism. She lives in New Mexico with her three cats.