Q: What are the best toys for cats?

A: A better question might be: What aren't the best toys for cats?

Our felines are clever and creative when it comes to what they'll play with. Some items are tops on their list of faves, while toys that they love are best avoided. Here's what to consider.

Cats love anything that challenges their balance and mobility, stimulates their innate hunting prowess, or involves chasing and climbing, to name just a few of their favorite things. A fishing pole toy or large peacock feather is ideal for encouraging feline acrobats to spin and leap. Drag it along the floor for some hind-end wiggling and chase-and-pounce action — all part of the hunting process. This type of toy will keep kittens and even older cats entertained and intrigued. Just be sure you put it away when you're done so your cat doesn't swallow the string.

Other feline favorites include windup or electronic toys that move, toys filled with catnip and toys that squeak when pounced on. Some cats enjoy small balls or feathered objects connected to a stand by a spring that they can bat around.

Roll a small ball down the hall, and watch your cat take off after it at high speed. Rolling it on a hard surface such as a wood or tile floor is even better because it adds sound to the game. A ball inside a circular plastic track — some with multiple levels of tracks — develops good motor skills as kittens or cats reach inside to bat the ball around.

Choose toys made specifically for cats, because they're less likely to have small parts that can be bitten off and swallowed. Cats also like string, cord, yarn or thread, but you should avoid using those as toys because they can be fatal if swallowed.