Interactive play with our cats is one of the best ways to ensure happy cats and a healthy human/cat bond. Our review today includes the Birbug, new from Nekochan, the makers of the famous Neko Flies. We discovered Neko Flies a few years ago and consider them my #1 or gold standard of cat wand toys. I’ve tried and tested tons of toys on dozens of cats and often create or modify toys to help deepen my understanding of what cats enjoy.
Recently, I spoke at length with Ellen, the owner/designer of Nekochan, the Vancouver based company about cat toys and was happy to find we’re on the same page. It’s refreshing to deal with a small business owner (and cat lover) committed to exceptional quality.
Playing provides cats the opportunity to satisfy their hunting instinct and natural exercise. Interactive play with a human adds the bonus of bonding and reducing stress for both. The easiest and most versatile cat toy for interactive play is a wand type or “fishing pole” toy consisting or a long wand, cord and a toy dangling off the cord. The toy could be a mouse, feathers or bits of material replicating a bug or other prey creature.
The market has exploded with wand types toys and copycat versions BUT not all cat toys are created equal. More than ever, I believe you get what you pay for. Cheap plastic toys are more likely to break, splinter or break apart the “prey” part which can injure a cat or become choking hazard.
I’m always dreaming of the perfect toy, and how toys can be improved. I really wanted an adjustable longer wand with a comfortable handle. My dream came true with the Birbug, the world’s first metal, telescoping wand with a cork handle and contains NO plastic. It’s the Rolls Royce of cat toys, beautifully designed and built to last. The wand of super strong graphite lengthens to a glorious 32 inches but shortens to fit in a carry on bag. The Birbug Telescoping Wand is sold separately or as a combo with the Neko Birbug Toy. All the Neko Flies attachments fit the telescoping wand purrfectly. And yes, new attachments are in the wind.
One of my biggest issues with wand toys is a lack of a proper handle. If you have larger hands, stiff or arthritic hands most wands are not comfortable. I placed a few of the most common wand toys for a side by side comparison. The cheap ones have no real handle. Some wands are longer than others but the longest wand and handle is the Birbug. The second longest and also telescoping (green handle) is from the Jackson Galaxy collection from Petmate. The thin metal tip quickly bent out of shape and the difficult to control metal wire (instead of cord) has sharp dangerous edges. I may replace the wire and jury-rig the cheaply made yarn toy with something else because I like the telescoping part and it has a handle.
The more comfortable the handle, the longer you’ll want to play with your cat and that means happier cats.
I love how light and comfortable the Birbug cork handle is. It’s ergodynamically designed and natural. A joy to hold after any thin plastic wand. Odin our #1 tester was sleeping in his heated Sleepypod but couldn’t resist batting the Birbug even after his outdoor adventure.
I wanted to see how the BirBug would glide outdoors (just before the snowstorm) with real air currents and Odin was very excited to see this exotic creature come alive! Our video ran into a glitch. I’ll post it later but here’s a taste.
The Birbug attachment is a mythical creature part bird, part bug with iridescent wings and way bigger than the Neko Flies. All the Nekochan wand attachments are interchangeable providing much needed variety for bored and curious cats. This is especially true now in winter when many cats go stir-crazy with cabin fever.
See the whole line of wands and “prey critters” at Nekochan
Our one-eyed foster gal Nu Nu was an instant Birbug fanatic and wanted to take her ‘kill’ into her lair, the cozy Neko Napper.
- Wand toys that have separate attachments cost more but make it easy to replace the missing or broken “prey” toy. When a cheap toy breaks, you have to replace the whole toy.
- The best feather type toys like Da Bird have larger feathers with interchangeable attachments. Avoid the cheap one with feathers that quickly snap off or become unglued.
- All wands are capable of breaking or bending so use common sense.
- Store all wands toys when not in use to avoid ingestion of feathers or other toy “prey”
- Did you know most cats are happiest with at least two play sessions a day?
- Ideally each session should be at least 10 minutes long but I like to let the cat take the lead. Some tire out after 5 minutes, others 35 minutes. You’ll know they’ve had enough when they stop playing, leaving the room or flopping over on their side.
FTC disclaimer: We receive sample products and a fee for this post sponsored by Nekochan but the opinions are 100 % our own. We only share reviews we feel are of value to our readers.