FroliCat toys are made by Brilliant Pets, the people who make the Scoop Free cat litter box, so they know cats. I was sent their three offerings to review- the Dart free-standing laser toy; the Bolt hand-held or standing laser toy; and the Sway, a magnetically mounted cat toy. By the way, dogs may be interested in the RouseDog versions of the laser toys as well!
I enjoy cats and have a middle aged one who, technically, adopted us but that is a different story. He’s a very affectionate cat that prefers to be outside and I was hoping to find some things for him to do while indoors in the long Nebraska winter. I leapt at the chance to try some new toys out with him.
The Dart ($34.99 MSRP, 3-AA batteries) is a free-standing unit that rotates and shines a laser light. You can set the speeds and duration of the session, and the thing takes off! It moves back and forth, and to a lesser extent, up and down. It darts, it whirls, it vibrates rapidly, and it even freezes in place for a moment until the preset timer runs down.
In use, I found that the slow speed was still kind of quick, and the whole machine is rather loud and top-heavy. You can stand it up on a stool to get a bigger circle, but in my house, it was often hitting walls and furniture, and just completes the circle too fast- you’d have to hustle to keep up. The unit would also tend to wobble or move whenever the cat got too close. The noisiness is not a deal-breaker, but the whole unit seems to amplify the noises of the motor, gears, and plastic.
My middle-aged cat sometimes really got into trying to follow the light, but would often just sit and stare, seemingly befuddled by how it climbed walls so effortlessly. He rarely paid attention if I boosted the speeds.
I think the device could be improved by a little sound-deadening on the motor, but more by a sensor/timer that would sometimes turn it on when it sensed a cat-sized thing nearby. I think I would also add a weight to the bottom half.
I let my daughter try it with her cat, and her experiences are much the same as mine:
“The rotations of the toy and the mechanics of it make this a very noisy device. Even on the lowest speed it has, it still seems too fast for [my] cat to really enjoy it… It is a good idea and has all the settings to become a very good toy but unless it is more adaptable in its programming or timed better, I don’t think it is ideal for anything but kittens…
“It is a good toy if you are not going to be around or you need to keep the cat occupied for 20 or so minutes but it is not something that I could keep on when I was in the room.”
The Bolt ($19.95 MSRP, 4-AA batteries) is a hand-held unit that dances the laser along an adjustable mirror. The motor is quieter, and it does not use as large of a play zone as the Dart, which may be good or bad. The unit is comfortable to hold or sits nicely by itself. There is a 15 minute auto-shut off so you can set it down and leave it.
While the Dart is interactive in that the cat plays with it, the Bolt is even more interactive when you hold it and play with your cat! Of course, in that mode, a simple laser pointer would work also but the Bolt offers more play options.
My cat seemed to prefer the Bolt probably because I could control the speed and play area better in response to what he was doing. Again, I wish it could come on during the day when I was gone to help keep my cat entertained.
The Sway ($12.99 MSRP, no batteries) is something your cat can play with when you are not around. You simply use the strong magnets to attach the ‘cat toy on a string’ to a handy table or something and instantly you have a toy our cat can access anytime.
The toy part has it all- knit cover, a bell and even feathers! The magnet is housed in pair of hemispheres and is strong enough to work through about 3/4″ of material- understanding that the thickness and type of material has a major effect on the strength of the hold.
My cat has so far mostly ignored it, but a daughter’s cat likes it more. You have to be a bit careful; the weight of the cat playing with it can pull the magnets apart or make them slide across the table. It is also tricker than you might think to find a good surface to mount it to. Something thin but strong at a good height that does not have anything that can get scratched or damaged if the mount slides or moves when the cat plays with the toy.
My daughter adds “The bell and feather may be a little too low key to keep a cat’s attention for long but it is a good device that does not take up much space and is well made. It could also do with a bit more bounce. It swings well but it is long enough that it is kind of low to the ground so the cat can’t bounce it.”
One reviewer suggested hanging it in a box, but you don’t need a heavy magnet to do that. While the idea sounds great, I am less and less sold on the magnetic mount. I find myself thinking I would prefer a re-useable hook (like the Command series) and maybe a bit of Velcro to attach a toy under a table or chair that will come off painlessly if the cat puts too much weight on it.